Tuesday, December 9, 1997
Letter from Eric Stillwell respecting Olivia Stillwell. I received a rather cold, prefunctory letter from Mr. Eric Stillwell asking that I take on his daughter as a patient. He is the president of a company that bears his name.

Monday, December 15, 1997
4 pm. Initial Session with Olivia Stillwell. Last week, I got a cold, rather perfunctory letter from a Mr. Eric Stillwell asking that I take on his daughter as a patient. He is the president of a company that bears his name. Today, I met his daughter, Olivia. She's about twenty-five, short, and energetic. She laughed and joked a lot, even though she was telling me about how she was being stalked by a man with whom she had some kind of relationship, although perhaps not a romantic one. She was clearly nervous during the session. I told her that she had to take active steps to end the unwelcome attentions of this man, but she seemed resistant to the idea, even asking me if a restraining order would look bad on this guy's record. This first session dealt mostly with her quasi-legal problems, so I didn't get much of a chance to gain an impression of her. She did say that she is having difficulty sleeping, so I recommended that she try melatonin. I was loath to give her a prescription medication during our first session. I have a sense that it might be difficult to penetrate beneath Olivia's nervous pleasantries. It seems like a toughened mask that she's developed over a lifetime of being "Daddy's Girl," as she put it.

Friday, December 26, 1997
3 pm. I received a fax from Mr. Eric Stillwell respecting Olivia Stillwell. He says that he's pleased with her progress after one session and he undertakes to pay for her future sessions, "Expense is no object." But in the letter he belittles her interest in therapy--"if it makes her feel better to talk to someone and feel important"--and he goes to some length to try to assure me or himself that he has been a good parent. The subtext was a lot more interesting than the surface content.

Monday, January 5, 1998
4 pm. Second Session with Olivia Stillwell. Olivia looked like she'd gotten some rest and she confirmed that the Melatonin was working for her. She also said that she has been dreaming more although she can't remember their content. When I asked about the restraining order, Olivia explained to me that her stalker is someone she met on the Internet. He gleaned certain personal information from her during their chat sessions together and has been calling her at work and threatening to arrive in person. As she talked about him, she started shaking and crying. She did a little research of her own and discovered that he is a professor at the University of Denmark--as he represented himself to be. I don't believe that I was expressing any form of disbelief or treating the matter lightly, but Olivia took offense at something I did and began to storm out of my office. She told me that she wanted to be taken seriously and not be trivialized. I urged her to calm down and to talk this out, but although she calmed somewhat and apologized for yelling at me, she asked to leave early to clear her head. She wouldn't meet my eye and was so anxious to get out of there that she was unfazed by the fact that I'm going on a vacation. I wonder if I've lost her as a patient.

Monday, January 26, 1998
4 pm. Third Session with Olivia Stillwell. Olivia took a new job at SII, partly to escape the pressure of being under her father's thumb. We spent most of the session talking about her relationship with her adoptive father, Eric. Olivia explained that he adopted her after her mother died out of a feeling of guilt. He had been asked to look after Melissa, Olivia's mother, when she was just 15. She was raped by an intruder, and although Eric tried to fight him off, he was knocked unconscious and rendered ineffectual. Melissa, completely traumatized by what had happened to her, died in childbirth and Melissa's grief-stricken family wanted nothing to do with the infant Olivia. Eric adopted the baby and moved to California and got involved with computers. Olivia tells this story without emotion--totally dispassionately. Perhaps it's an evil thought, but I can't help but wonder if Eric really doesn't have a genetic relationship with Olivia. But regardless, now Olivia feels smothered by the overly protective nature of her father's attentions. She finds it difficult to say no to him, so we talked about saying "maybe." Olivia's Internet stalker Jonas has apparently been arrested for hacking, so he is apparently not a problem any longer. Olivia is very excited about the new job that she's taken at SII. She's doing package design--something called "Marketing Imagery." She was quite methodical about her transition from her father's company to SII. She even found me by discovering that I was part of SII's health plan. That's why she chose to use my services. She wrote out procedure documents for everything she does so that a new person can get up to speed quickly. And she saved her vacation time so that she could be absent during her two week notice period. I found the methodical nature of her plans extremely revealing. Her relationship with her father is now strained, but she is conscious of it and is trying to put things right there. She doesn't evince any particular desire to eliminate his involvement in her life--just in diminishing his ability to influence her decisions.

Monday, February 2, 1998
4 pm. Fourth Session with Olivia Stillwell. Olivia was ebullient about her new job--she apologized for twirling into my office and told me that she was "giddy about life." She launched right into the sexually-oriented gossip around SII, most of it seemingly revolving around my patients, although Olivia didn't know that. We spoke about Olivia's current relationship with her father, which she admitted was strained. Although her father is not speaking to her and avoiding her calls, Olivia believes that he is too concerned about being the perfect father for him to give her the silent treatment for long. Olivia found a picture of herself at the age of about five or six taken at some sort of dinosaur-themed attraction. She was very surprised that she didn't remember ever going to the park. I told her that memories are often suppressed but that they return at the oddest times. We spoke a bit about using a journal, and Olivia was afraid that she would feel guilty for not making entries in it. I assured her that there was no pressure but that I thought it would be helpful.

Monday, February 9, 1998
4 pm. Fifth Session with Olivia Stillwell. Olivia was suddenly assaulted and beaten by two assailants who attacked her and her friend Stephanie as they left a bar. Olivia suffered a facial laceration together with a number of contusions on one eye, a cheekbone and her nose. She was wearing a neck brace, and I detected a slight but not obvious limp when she came into the office. Her strained neck seemed to be giving her the most difficulty and she said she was in pain and needed painkillers during the session. Stephanie was hurt more; she suffered a broken rib and lost two front teeth. Apparently, both the police and her boss at work mistakenly thought that Olivia and Stephanie were engaged in a homosexual relationship and that the attack was some kind of hate crime directed randomly against gays. The perpetrators were not apprehended. I wonder if the attack has anything to do with Olivia's Internet stalker. Olivia exhibited a fairly blasé attitude about the incident, but I could sense that she was trying to mask a deeply felt sense of physical insecurity, exacerbated by her recent push for freedom from her smothering father.

Tuesday, February 17, 1998
4 pm. Sixth Session with Olivia Stillwell. The police apprehended Olivia's attackers and asked her to go down and identify them from a line-up. Stephanie and she both independently identified their attackers, but then discovered that they were the sons of diplomats and were protected from criminal prosecution under a claim of diplomatic immunity! Olivia is angry to the point of violence, and although I see her anger as quite justifiable under the circumstances, I thought it was important that we try to get it under her control. I told her that she isn't powerless--even if she can't get her assailants through the police, she can still protest to the State Department and try to get them expelled from the country. I also urged her to take the matter up with the University where these individuals are going to school. I think it's important for Olivia to take some proactive steps in her own defense, so that she doesn't feel like a helpless victim. I find it odd that both attackers would be protected under a claim of diplomatic immunity. Do diplomat's kids get together at the University to go and commit violent, senseless crimes? I wonder if somehow they were able to fake the claim of immunity--I would certainly like it if at least one of them were subject to prosecution. Perhaps her assailants will be able to avoid punishment for what they've done, but it's important that Olivia move past this and that this one incident doesn't paralyze her. I also urged her to talk with others about her feelings relating to the incident. Talking about it will help neutralize the psychological damage that she's suffered. Olivia also briefly met Katherine Lippard in a work context and thought that she was an "ultra bitch" in her work persona, although she said that she could sense that there was a spark of someone human underneath the cold, hard, executive woman exterior. But she made a strong impression on Olivia.

Monday, February 23, 1998
4 pm. Seventh Session with Olivia Stillwell. Olivia is living in fear that her attackers will somehow discover who she is and retaliate against her. As I suggested, she told her father what happened, and she describes him almost having an apoplectic fit. He immediately got on the phone with his attorney and is pursuing an all out attack on the two brothers who assaulted Stephanie and his daughter. He is considering a civil suit, he is protesting to the State Department, and he is calling the papers--specifically, the Washington Post. Olivia wanted some action against these two and her father is providing it, although now Olivia isn't happy. I believe she's primarily distressed because the action is coming from her father, undercutting her feeling of independence. At one point in the session, Olivia threw an empty Kleenex box across the room; she was instantly remorseful. Olivia says that she is stressed, uptight, upset, scared, and angry. I tried to calm her fears. Although vicious, the attack was essentially a random one.

Monday, March 2, 1998
4 pm. Eighth Session with Olivia Stillwell. This was a session in which Olivia flat out refused to discuss the issues that were important to her. Instead, we talked about gossip at work--including a reference to Katherine Lippard and Alex--jokes, her new puppy, and stories about people she'd heard about. She seemed quite edgy to me, and she told me that she's not sleeping well, perhaps 3 to 4 hours per night. She said that the melatonin isn't working for her. She adopted a Rottweiler puppy and hopes that it will provide protection for her when it grows up. Now, she jokes that she can throw her puppy at an intruder.

Monday, March 16, 1998
4 pm. Ninth Session with Olivia Stillwell. The effects on Olivia's psyche of the violent physical assault outside the bar seem to be diminishing with time. She put it rather well--that each time she describes the attack, she omits details. Now she's got a matter-of-fact version where she got mugged outside a bar and the attackers are going to escape prosecution--no elaboration at all. Although I might worry about a persistent reluctance to relate the details, it seems rather that Olivia doesn't feel like she needs to tell the story anymore. I told Olivia that I thought she was letting go of her anger. We also talked about her fear. While she's not as paranoid as she was immediately following the attack, she described a rather daunting list of security measures that she's adopted to help assure her safety. Although each of the precautions by themselves seem reasonable, obviously you can allow security concerns to rule your life. But for now, they seem to be a response rationally related to a horrific stimulus. Olivia has gotten a puppy--she showed me pictures--and, although she got this animal because she wanted protection, she instead feels protective towards it. The way she was gushing about Sherman the puppy, I wouldn't be surprised if she threw herself on an attacker to protect her dog. But obviously I think it's a positive if she refocuses her attention on others as opposed to directing her concern inward. Additionally, the dog will force her to go outside and won't allow her to barricade herself within her apartment all the time. I've seen a lot of patients exhibit the beginning symptoms of agoraphobia after becoming victims of a violent assault. At the end of the session, Olivia told me about her intention to talk directly to Katherine Lippard about her relationship with Alex. Olivia said that, while she didn't believe the rumors were true, she thought Katherine should know about them. But as she told me of her intent to talk to Katherine, it seemed as if her resolve dissipated. And I can't exactly see how Olivia is going to go to Katherine and tell her, "I didn't believe it myself, of course, but do you know everyone at work thinks you're a child molester?"

Monday, March 30, 1998
4 pm. Tenth Session with Olivia Stillwell. In the context of talking about a date during a junket in Lake Tahoe, Olivia told me that she really hadn't formed any romantic attachments at all in her lifetime. I'm not certain how literally she meant to be taken, but to have Olivia tell it, she just hasn't met the right guy. Her father is pressuring her to pursue legal action against the people who assaulted her, but Olivia wants the entire episode to be buried. She's more than a bit peeved at her father for continuing in his efforts to get legal recourse against the two attackers. Olivia told me that she has been asked by Stephanie to accompany her to North Carolina this month. Perhaps I had been thinking about the initial relationship between Kathy and Anna--I asked Olivia if Stephanie might be interested in having a romantic relationship with her. Olivia just blew up! It was a reaction that seemed quite disproportionate to my question, although I can imagine that my question might have been unexpected. Olivia took my question to mean that I believed that she was a lesbian in her sexual orientation. She was very upset. She then asked me if I was gay. As with all personal questions, I tried to avoid answering, but she took my evasions to be an affirmative response. She clearly has a problem with homosexuality, so when she asked me directly for the third time, I decided to tell her straight out that I wasn't gay. I got the distinct impression that she didn't believe me. At the end of the session, I suggested that we explore some of her family history and I asked her to write down some of her earliest memories, if she could.

Monday, April 6, 1998
4 pm. Eleventh Session with Olivia Stillwell. Olivia apparently has a secret admirer at work. She received a set of cryptic notes which utilized some form of musical code which Olivia was able to decipher. We spent most of the session running through the methadology Olivia used to crack the code, and it seemed that she was probably right, although I must say that I am not particularly literate in musical notation. But Olivia was so proud of herself for breaking the code, and so intrigued by the romantic danger of having a rendezvous with someone whose identity she doesn't know in advance, that she's going. She is having Caren and Greg back her up at a different table, which sounds like a good idea to me. At the beginning of the session, Olivia gave me some early memories which she had been able to recall and write down. I didn't have a chance to review them during the session, but she told me that she worked hard to come up with these memories and that, although the faces are familiar to her, she can't remember who they are. After Olivia left, I reviewed the written list of memories which she had left for me. A lot of the notes are about feeling self conscious and awkward and as if she doesn't belong. She described common childhood fears of wanting to be accepted by her peers. She talked about early sexual experiences which seemed a bit more precocious than the norm--a neighbor boy of about five apparently tried to achieve penetration before they were discovered by his mother. But the sexual exploration was always in the context of a game and doesn't sound particularly traumatic--she remembers the incident because of getting caught rather than the boy's activity. She remembered a car accident when she was very young. Her memory is that she was the only one who wasn't hurt. She got hit in the eye with a bat, and although it hurt, she thought it was cool to have a black eye. This is also clearly about being accepted by her peers.

Monday, April 13, 1998
4 pm. Twelfth Session with Olivia Stillwell. Olivia was accompanied today to her session by her father, who waited out in the outer office while we conducted our session. He wants her to give a statement to his lawyers regarding her attack and, sensing her reluctance, is giving her little ability to escape. She feels that she's put the attack behind her and wants to forget the incident. Somehow, Olivia discovered that her father had hired a private investigator to do a background check on Stephanie Martin. The investigation revealed that Stephanie is, in fact, homosexual. Olivia went over to Stephanie's and she confirmed the content of the investigator's report, although Olivia didn't tell Stephanie that she had been an investigative target. Olivia only had the second page of the report which leads me to believe that she wasn't intended to read it. Olivia told me that her father said that he had ordered it to avoid any surprises in court, if his efforts to prosecute those responsible gets that far. That sounds like an excuse cooked up after the fact. I suspect, instead, that the report was ordered as part of a pattern of investigation on Olivia and her associates. Perhaps her father has regularly resorted to private investigators to keep him in close contact with the activities of his daughter. If that's true, it is an outrageous breach of the privacy owed to an adult daughter by a parent. And the overprotectiveness and insecurity pointed to by such behavior could help explain Olivia's other surprising revelation this session: Olivia is still a virgin at 26. She cried as she told me, so she's clearly not proud of the fact. I gave her a pep talk to the effect that she should be proud that she hasn't lowered her standards just to have sex, but the truth is that I'm somewhat concerned. Olivia doesn't seem to have any great moral compunctions against premarital sex which are holding her back. Olivia might not be able to form intimate attachments to other males in the face of her father's unwillingness to let her go. The secret admirer, who titillated Olivia with the notes we discussed during the last session, failed to materalize. She still doesn't know who sent the cryptic notes. Be mindful that Olivia's 26th birthday will occur on April 20th, the day of her next session.

Monday, April 27, 1998
4 pm. Thirteenth Session with Olivia Stillwell. Olivia had an important conversation with her father. She seemed able to express to him her unhappiness at his overbearing nature, and he seemed to understand. First, she convinced him that she was unwilling to pursue a civil action against the men who attacked her. Later, using some histrionics, she was finally able to explain to him what she calls her "Trophy Complex." The Trophy Complex, which she eloquently described during the session, is the burden of being a perfect daughter. Olivia got a page from Jordan, the romantic prospect that she met in Lake Tahoe, and she ran out of the session early.

Monday, May 4, 1998
4 pm. Fourteenth Session with Olivia Stillwell. Olivia came in almost bubbling with euphoric happiness. She's relieved because the the child that Steffy's dog attacked was not seriously hurt and the parents have decided not to seek damages, even though the dog might have to be euthanized. She found her secret admirer--it's Brad, the cross dresser in her group. He was the one who sent her the cryptic musical messages. I'm not certain that he's interested in pursuing a romantic attachment to Olivia or not, but I decided not to push the point. And she's happy that her father has officially dropped the civil action he was pursuing against her attackers. She asked him why and he told her that he couldn't seek vengeance for himself after he saw how it was tearing her apart. Her father also met a woman named Kelly whom he seems to be serious about. Olivia feels that's good news as well. Olivia believes that she has addressed the original issues which brought her into therapy, and she'd like to begin wrapping it up. I suggested that we make her sessions once every other week and that she put together a list of areas that we might work on so that we have both an agenda and some goals for the rest of our sessions together.

Monday, May 18, 1998
4 pm. Fifteenth Session with Olivia Stillwell. Olivia began the session by talking about a vacation she's planning imminently to Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area. Then we started to talk about Olivia's list of issues that she'd like to address in therapy. First on her list was her perception that people don't seem to take her seriously--"people" mostly meaning her father. Olivia sees herself as a bubbly person, but thinks that others may view her as a "ditz." I told her that working at SII, away from the company her father owns, seems to have improved her sense of self-assurance, and she agreed. Disregarding Olivia's agenda for a moment, we began to speak about Olivia's family. Olivia immediately clammed up. She's definitely ill at ease talking about her feelings respecting her mother's death--she tries to deny that it has any emotional relevance to her present. I pressed a bit, but let up when she promised that she'd think about it before the next session if I changed the subject now. The next item on Olivia's agenda was her concern about not being involved in a romantic relationship. She framed it as concern that her standards are too high. She said that she was concerned that she was going to be an old maid. When she made a reference to masturbation, she was extremely embarrassed and I changed the subject. Previously, Olivia had told me that none of the men she had dated made her feel particularly amorous. She still agrees, although Jordan clearly has kindled some of those feelings. She thinks of relationships as investments that can go sour, and expressed hesitation about getting involved unless she knows they're a sure thing. I urged her to think of relationships as a learning experience--even from those that fail, you learn something that will assist in the next relationship. At the end of the session, Olivia spoke with envy about an executive at SII who just dates--I believe she was referring to Katherine Lippard. Olivia agreed to continue therapy on an alternate week schedule.

Tuesday, June 16, 1998
5 pm. Sixteenth Session with Olivia Stillwell. Olivia made contact with her grandparents during her trip to Washington, D.C. While she said that it wasn't an instant family reunion, something obviously clicked between them. Olivia surprised me near the end of the session by saying that she's decided to move to Washington, D.C. and start over again--on her own this time and far from her father's influence. She doesn't think it's a permanent move, but she has no immediate plans to return. I told her that I'd be happy to recommend some good therapists in the D.C. area, and she thanked me for the work we've done together. It's always a little painful to lose a patient suddenly. All of the unresolved issues will just have to remain unresolved, at least during my tenure. But I hope that the time we've spent together will enable Olivia to be a little better equipped to live independently. I wish her only the best.

Tuesday, July 21, 1998
9 am. I received an E-mail from Olivia Stillwell. It sounds like she's doing quite well adjusting to her new life in Virginia. She is having relationship problems with her grandparents, but she ascribes it to the newness of their interaction: while the family bonds might help, they haven't truly been her grandparents until now. I noticed that Olivia is trying to keep a lifestyle which gives her the most freedom and flexibility. It's as if she's afraid of putting down any roots. However, she did say that she's entered into a relationship with a man named Mike. That's a big step for Olivia.


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