Transcript of 2nd Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Phylis Birch, Monday, September 9, 1996 at 12:00 noon.

Dr. Balis: Hello Phylis.
Ms. Birch: Doctor. It's good to see you.
Dr. Balis: Please sit down. How have you been?
Ms. Birch: I've been under a bit of stress. You see, I had another close call with Jack. He was being a real sweetheart and dropped by my work at around six, the time I normally go home, to pick me up for a surprise date. Just the two of us. He made reservations at one of our favorite spots. He even brought a flower, a single iris with baby's breath. That was the first thing that I ever gave him. He must be the only man on earth with a memory for such things. Imagine his surprise when I wasn't there. They told him that I had left over an hour ago, about the time that I had left him a voice mail saying that I was looking forward to coming home at the usual hour. He gave my flower to the secretary and left. By the time I got home, he was sitting in front of the T.V. eating a pizza.
Dr. Balis: I take it that he told you of his plans.
Ms. Birch: Yes. And of his disappointment too.
Dr. Balis: What did you tell him?
Ms. Birch: Well, I was lucky. On my way home, on an impulse, I stopped by a confection-makers to buy Jack's favorite dark chocolate champagne truffles. It would've been totally out of the way had I been coming from work, but since I was at one of my dives, it was en route. I told him that I left early especially to get them for him.
Dr. Balis: That was lucky.
Ms. Birch: Yeah. Jack felt guilty for doubting me. I felt even more guilty for causing him to experience undeserved guilt. The next day I got a snide comment from the secretary who refused to give me back my flower.
Dr. Balis: Phylis, you are obviously aware of fact that you stand to lose much more than a flower unless you clear this up with Jack. Both of your impulses to treat each other to something special indicate that you both feel the need to pay particular attention to your marriage that you sense is in trouble. Would you agree with that?
Ms. Birch: Of course I do, Doctor. That's why I'm here.
Dr. Balis: Then I would urge you to tell Jack the truth.
Ms. Birch: But I can't! Weren't you listening last time when I told you about Jack's response to my activities?
Dr. Balis: Yes, Phylis, I was. However, it is still my position that dealing with that issue is better than losing a husband that you clearly seem to love, and who, from what little you have told me, seems to love you.
Ms. Birch: I won't give up my excursions.
Dr. Balis: Nobody is saying that you have to, just yet. But, perhaps there's a way of pursuing your hobby in a manner that is less destructive to your marriage.
Ms. Birch: Do you really think that's possible?
Dr. Balis: It's entirely in your hands. You must express to Jack just how important these excursions are to you.
Ms. Birch: Alternatively, I was rather hoping that you would help me to devise a system for keeping information straight in my head. A trick or a technique that I could utilize.
Dr. Balis: Do you think that it would be possible or even desirable to continue with your deception for a prolonged period of time?
Ms. Birch: I'm not sure, but I don't think that I'm ready to have this conversation with Jack just yet. I would like to be able to present a reasonable argument as to why I'm doing this. It would also be nice to be able to tell Jack that I need X amount of time after which I would be done. But I'm not willing to set such limits. What if I'm never satiated?
Dr. Balis: Do you think that it's necessary to rationalize your desires to Jack?
Ms. Birch: This has become more than a simple desire. It's now a necessity. But to answer your question, I prefer to have a sound, logical basis for my actions. That's way I want to justify my actions to myself as well as to others.
Dr. Balis: Perhaps we can try to get at some of the reasons why this hobby has become so important to you during our therapy sessions. Have you begun that journal that we discussed last time?
Ms. Birch: No, I just haven't had the time. But I've thought about it. Would it be useful for you to see some of the places that I've been spending time in?
Dr. Balis: Do you mean go there?
Ms. Birch: Oh no. I wouldn't want to bring you along. I'm talking about photographs. I could start a roll of film and take some pictures of these places. It would only be outdoors, of course. I don't want to upset anyone there. But at least it would be something.
Dr. Balis: That could be interesting. Would you write down comments next to the photos describing your thoughts as you are about to enter or as you are leaving?
Ms. Birch: You don't give up easily, do you Doctor?
Dr. Balis: Would you like me to give up?
Ms. Birch: No, I guess not.
Dr. Balis: Okay. Could you talk a little about your attraction to dives?
Ms. Birch: I'm not sure what to say.
Dr. Balis: Just tell me the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the last place that you went.
Ms. Birch: That would be my work.
Dr. Balis: But we are not here to discuss your work or are we?
Ms. Birch: No, I'm sorry. My defense shields fly up just thinking about talking to someone about this.
Dr. Balis: Why do you think that is?
Ms. Birch: I guess it's because this is so personal. I've even thought that the reason why I'm not able to explain it to myself is that I don't want to face or acknowledge it.
Dr. Balis: We can go slow and take it one step at a time. What's the most common thing that you feel as you think about going out to a dive?
Ms. Birch: Excitement. If it's a place that I've gone to before, I often can't wait to get there. I know what to expect at least to some degree. There are specific people that I've befriended and want to see again. I start to know something about each one and their stories continue to unfold to me. Sometimes I'll buy them a drink. But not too often or they won't relate to me as one of their own. I'll appear too rich or something.
Dr. Balis: Do you tend to go to familiar places?
Ms. Birch: Generally, yes. That is until I get that explorer feeling.
Dr. Balis: Explorer feeling?
Ms. Birch: Yes. It's a desire to discover a new hideaway, as if the ones that I've been frequenting have become too familiar. You know, if people get too used to you, they stop talking to you. At least they don't tell you quite so much anymore. When you're new, they try talking you up to out do each other's stories. That's when it's the most interesting.
Dr. Balis: Do you just listen? Or do you tell stories too?
Ms. Birch: Good question. I didn't expect you to ask that.
Dr. Balis: Does that mean that you do?
Ms. Birch: Yes. I have developed something of a persona over time. Her name is Martha and she has a definite personal history. It's mostly made up, but I try to stick with one story so as not to forget what I had said.
Dr. Balis: Have you always approached it this way?
Ms. Birch: No. In fact, there are some places that I don't go back to anymore because I don't remember the stories that I told there. I wouldn't want people to think that I was lying. I doubt if anyone remembers and I could always say that I was drunk and thus taking liberties, but why get into such a mess?
Dr. Balis: I would like to hear more about Martha, but I'm afraid we are running short on time. In the meantime...
Ms. Birch: I know, try to write something in my journal or at least get one.
Dr. Balis: Well, that would be nice. However, what I was going to say is that you should think about approaching this subject with Jack. Just imagine how the conversation would go and see what you would say.
Ms. Birch: I've tried that. That conversation inevitably ends in a scandal with me storming out of the house.
Dr. Balis: Perhaps you could try to imagine that you don't storm out of the house. That instead, you stayed and continued to talk about it. I would like to hear what you imagine happens next.
Ms. Birch: Okay, but I have to tell you, I don't think that I could master the patience to stay.
Dr. Balis: Shall we make an appointment for the same time next week?
Ms. Birch: Next Monday at noon? Let me check my schedule.
Dr. Balis: Yes, if that works for you. Monday, the 16th of September, at 12:00 noon.
Ms. Birch: I can make that.
Dr. Balis: Great. Then I shall see you next Monday.
Ms. Birch: Monday it is. Have a nice week, Dr. Balis.
Dr. Balis: And you, Phylis. Goodbye.
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Button to Dr. Balis' Notes Doctor Balis' Notes on this Session

Button to Phylis Birch's Transcripts Transcripts of Phylis Birch's Therapy Sessions
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