Transcript of 5th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. George Landau, Monday, February 24, 1997 at 2:00 pm.

Dr. Balis: Hello George.
Mr. Landau: Hello Doctor. I'm sorry about what I said last week before I left. I didn't mean it. I was just tired.
Dr. Balis: No offense taken.
Mr. Landau: Good.
Dr. Balis: You still look pretty tired today.
Mr. Landau: I haven't been sleeping well.
Dr. Balis: Has anything in particular been troubling you?
Mr. Landau: Sometimes the world seems a frightening place, Doctor. You read in the newspaper about killers and disasters and intelligent diseases. If my mind's active at night, it can conjure up all kinds of fears.
Dr. Balis: Do you have nightmares?
Mr. Landau: Oh yes. Sometimes several in a night.
Dr. Balis: Can you describe one?
Mr. Landau: I'm locked in a cold gray room with no windows and no furniture. There's a man being tortured next door. I can hear his shrieks through the wall. I don't know what's being done to him, but it goes on and on. Every time I think it's stopped it starts again and his screams are a little more high-pitched. For some reason, I know what is happening. Whatever is torturing him waits until it has pushed him as hard as it can in one area, then it finds a new part of his body to attack. His teeth, his knees, his ears...I can't see what's going on but I have a picture of knives, drills, electric prods. The worst thing is that I'm next. Whatever's doing it is working its way along the rooms and, once it's finished with my neighbor, it will come to me. And eventually it does stop. And then I hear heavy movements in the corridor and the sound of my door being unlocked. I always wake myself up at that point.
Dr. Balis: You're able to choose to wake up?
Mr. Landau: Yes. I've been able to do that since I was a boy. When I have a really bad nightmare and something horrible is about to happen, I suddenly understand that I'm dreaming and I wake myself up.
Dr. Balis: Have you ever tried persisting with the dream?
Mr. Landau: I've thought about that. But I never realize I'm dreaming until I'm terrified, and then I want out so desperately that I leap at the chance.
Dr. Balis: You said that you know what's happening in the next room. I noticed you said "it" and not "he" or "she". Do you have any idea about what it is that's doing the torturing?
Mr. Landau: It's not human. But I'm afraid to look at it directly, to see what it is.
Dr. Balis: What do you think might happen if you did?
Mr. Landau: I don't know. It might consume me. I might never wake up.
Dr. Balis: How often does this nightmare recur?
Mr. Landau: Not all that often. But I have different nightmares with the same elements.
Dr. Balis: If your nightmares prevent you from having a restful night, I could prescribe something to help you sleep.
Mr. Landau: No thank you.
Dr. Balis: Very well, let's turn to something else. Perhaps we could go back to our very first session. Just as you were leaving, you asked me whether I believed in evil. Do you remember?
Mr. Landau: Of course I remember.
Dr. Balis: I was wondering why you asked me that question.
Mr. Landau: I wanted to know whether you had an open mind.
Dr. Balis: And what did you decide?
Mr. Landau: That you believed in a basically rational world but you were willing to consider other possibilities.
Dr. Balis: I asked you the same question but you didn't answer at the time.
Mr. Landau: Yes, I believe in evil.
Dr. Balis: How would you define it?
Mr. Landau: A black smothering force which is all around us.
Dr. Balis: Can you see it?
Mr. Landau: Sometimes.
Dr. Balis: Can you give me an example?
Mr. Landau: I was at a seminar on our financial strategy. The room was dark. The face of the man giving the talk was lit from beneath by the overhead projector. Light escaped from slits in the metal body. I looked at the projector's black shape with the light inside and I was overwhelmed with a feeling of malevolence lurking inside it. The presenter carried on, he didn't notice anything. The back of my shirt was soaked with cold sweat.
Dr. Balis: What happened when he finished?
Mr. Landau: He turned the projector off and raised the lights. It felt safer with the room bright and the projector light off, but still not completely safe. I could feel that it was still there; it was just sleeping.
Dr. Balis: You defined evil earlier as a black smothering force, but you seem very clear that it was contained in the light of the projector.
Mr. Landau: Not contained exactly. And it wasn't the light itself. That was just...its emanations. I didn't see any definite form to the evil. Excuse me, what have I been saying?
Dr. Balis: We have been talking about evil and how you see it.
Mr. Landau: Have I been talking nonsense?
Dr. Balis: On the contrary, what you've told me is very valuable.
Mr. Landau: I don't know. I feel uneasy about this. Can we talk about something else?
Dr. Balis: Okay. You said before that you saw formal procedures and rules as the disease of our time, devaluing contact between people.
Mr. Landau: That wasn't exactly what I said. I meant the attitude that promotes them.
Dr. Balis: The attitude that these rules are more important than getting the job done?
Mr. Landau: Yes.
Dr. Balis: Before today, I wondered if you regarded that attitude as evil.
Mr. Landau: No. It's just misguided. Perhaps it's a symptom of evil.
Dr. Balis: Would you say that I come into contact with evil on a regular basis?
Mr. Landau: Yes.
Dr. Balis: In what form?
Mr. Landau: I don't think I want to talk about this any more.
Dr. Balis: I really would like to know.
Mr. Landau: If you can't see it then it probably can't harm you.
Dr. Balis: Why do you say that?
Mr. Landau: Please Doctor. Let's talk about something else.
Dr. Balis: Alright. I'm sorry if I'm pushing you too hard.
Mr. Landau: You're only trying to help.
Dr. Balis: I'm glad you feel that way.
Mr. Landau: There are people who make their emotions very public, Doctor. I think some of them do it for show. I'm not like that. I'm a very private person. Sitting here, talking to you about myself, it makes me feel very uncomfortable.
Dr. Balis: Many patients find that, especially in the beginning. I appreciate that you keep coming back here to a situation which you find difficult.
Mr. Landau: I think you are good at your job, Doctor. I imagined you as a much more fearsome character. I was quite worked up before our first session.
Dr. Balis: I remember.
Mr. Landau: I didn't know what you were going to do. Doctors and doctors' offices are frightening places. But all we do is sit and talk. It feels old-fashioned.
Dr. Balis: Now that I don't have my computer around?
Mr. Landau: You don't need one. You would be just as good with paper files. Maybe one day your computer will break and you will lose all your careful notes.
Dr. Balis: I do make backups.
Mr. Landau: Looks like our time is up.
Dr. Balis: Yes it is. Before you go, did I let you know you can call me at any time? You have the number.
Mr. Landau: That's good of you Doctor. I don't think it's likely but I will keep it in mind.
Dr. Balis: As you wish. I'll see you next Monday at the same time?
Mr. Landau: Yes Doctor. Have a good week.
Dr. Balis: You too George.
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