Transcript of 3rd Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Sylvia Bows, Tuesday, July 23, 1996 at 4 pm.

Ms. Bows: Hello, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Hello, Sylvia. Please sit down. So do you want to talk about this weekend?
Ms. Bows: Wow. Right to business. Well, I would like to give you this first. This is my family tree. When Rene and I spent the night together, we talked about our past and about our families and our futures. While we talked, we made collages out of the old magazines the hotel had around. They are supposed to represent portraits of Rene and me, my brother, my mother and father, and Rene's father--my uncle. We took some artistic license in coming up with these images. I think there's some emotion in there too. Yesterday, I took them to work and scanned them in to produce a short computer version. I brought you a disk. I thought you might want to take a look at it.
Dr. Balis: I would, indeed.
Ms. Bows: There is also some text with each image. Most of it I wrote. But some sections have been heavily influenced by Rene. I think it is obvious where her contributions are.
Dr. Balis: I'll take a look at it tonight. Unless you would like me to take a look right now?
Ms. Bows: No, tonight is just fine and I think that now we have some important things to discuss. I know that you're worried about the effect that Zoloft has had on me.
Dr. Balis: Well, Zoloft can have some behavioral side effects. I have some concern that recent changes in your behavior could be caused by the drugs rather than by events in your life.
Ms. Bows: I have to say that after seeing Rene and her reaction to me, I have some concerns, too. Well, not concerns exactly, but I guess I really am a little different.
Dr. Balis: Oh? How did Rene react?
Ms. Bows: Well, Rene was surprised that I was bold. She thought I was bolder. Not just my actions but even my mannerisms. She didn't think it was a bad thing. Actually, she said it was kind of refreshing after so many years of what she called "corporate contamination." But she did think it was different.
Dr. Balis: When you're talking about actions, do you mean your affair with Richard?
Ms. Bows: Please understand, I don't regret anything I have done so far. In fact I think I needed some sort of catalyst to get my true self out in the open again. If Zoloft has been that catalyst, then all the better. You have to understand, Doctor, that living with Tom all these years has greatly altered my behavior and even personality. I used to be more daring in the past. I took more chances. I felt stronger about things. I marched for causes I believed in and wrote passionate articles which I hoped would change the world. I even got arrested once in a march and spent time in jail. I might have been over the top sometimes, but I always gave all of my intellect and passion to the causes I fought for.
Dr. Balis: You said there was a change?
Ms. Bows: Yes. Because of Tom's urgings, I made career moves that, while intellectually challenging, were more and more devoid of emotion and social content. When I was a technology reporter, I wasn't a techno-geek like so many of my colleagues. I could report on advances in medicine along with a new Nintendo model, so there was a sense that it was still partly for the public good, somehow. I just wasn't part of the "gee whiz" school of technology reporting. But then I got this job offer that Tom insisted I take...the pay raise was huge...and I moved into the private sector. But it's hard for me to get very passionate about a circuit board. Personally I don't get too teary-eyed about advances in computer gaming technologies.
Dr. Balis: So you're saying that by moving away from journalism and the political causes of your youth, you felt a lack of public service?
Ms. Bows: I guess what I'm saying is that these sessions have made me realize that there is something that I was missing in my life. I don't know if it is public service, because I think that my decision to have children is also a consequence of feeling this emotional void. Really, I think it is trying to have a purpose in life, sort of a reason for existing. My purpose for doing things has changed. Perhaps my behavior last week was a bit too much of a change all at once. But I think I can handle it now.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Bows: By the way, I felt bad about that nipple thing last week. It was very naughty of me. I guess that I was just trying to shock you a little. I promise to behave better in your company. I really like you, Doctor, and I'm surprised just how important it is to me that you have a good opinion of me.
Dr. Balis: I think very highly of you, too. And it's natural that in the course of these intimate conversations that you are concerned about how you come across. Because in therapy you are opening up who you are in a very fundamental way to another person. That can be really frightening, in addition to very rewarding. And when you have shared yourself at that level, it's important not to feel rejected. So believe me when I say that you are really a very sensitive, intelligent, and warm person for whom I have the greatest measure of regard.
Ms. Bows: Wow. Thank you very much, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Now, bringing out your emotions and getting in touch with your feelings is important. But I'm still not convinced about your ability to handle the medication. I'd be very unhappy if the drugs were responsible for changes in your behavior that you later regret when the drug has worn off.
Ms. Bows: I really think that the drug's major effect has been to make it possible for me to get some perspective and be able to see my life sort of from the outside. I don't want to give that up now. I don't think it is an aphrodisiac or something.
Dr. Balis: Look, if it's important to you, I am willing to give it another week or so, but please let me know of all the changes in your behavior and feelings. I want you to be able to enjoy your emotions and feel in control of your life without long term dependence on any medication. You have a very strong character and a lot of will power. I believe that, through our sessions, you'll be able to achieve the same perspective as you can with Zoloft.
Ms. Bows: Thank you, Doctor. I'll be good.
Dr. Balis: I'll let that pass. Now, I gather Rene has been a great influence in your life. Would you like to talk about your relationship with her?
Ms. Bows: You're right, Doctor. Rene has been a strong force in my life. Her mother died in a terrible car accident when Rene was only five. Uncle Phillip, her father, took her death very hard. I think he might have blamed himself for what happened. He owns a vineyard in the South of France. During one of the local wine festivals, he got a really bad flu. So Aunt Angelina took his place in representing their winery during a wine tasting at the festival. It has always struck me how little things can lead to catastrophic consequences. When she was ready to come home, her car wouldn't start. It was something that Phillip had dealt with before by taking the car a couple of times to a mechanic in town and getting it fixed, but they never really quite got it. Anyway, the car wouldn't start so someone at the festival offered to give her a ride home. He turned out to be drunk and lost control of the car. Ironically, the driver was basically fine, but Aunt Angelina broke her neck. I was only two, but it was really hard on all of us. After that, Rene used to live with us in Paris during the school year and, in the Summers, Rene and I would go and live with Uncle Phillip at the vineyard.
Dr. Balis: You mentioned you had a brother.
Ms. Bows: My brother wasn't born yet. Jeorge is five years younger than me.
Dr. Balis: So Rene and you were close since early childhood?
Ms. Bows: Rene three years older than I am. In the beginning, I thought of her as a grown woman. When she first came to live with us, I was only about two. I have vague memories of when Aunt Angelina died. I remember my Papa crying and my Mother's face. Aunt Angelina's funeral was in April. At that time of year, there are no leaves on any of the vines and they just look like a bunch of scary sticks. I remember being scared of the vines. They were black, gnarled, and disfigured. I also have a memory of Rene tickling me on my feet, unmercifully. I guess it was that first summer she spent with us.
Dr. Balis: How old were you when you spent your first summer with your Uncle?
Ms. Bows: It was the next summer. I was almost four by then.
Dr. Balis: You were very young to be without your mother for the whole summer.
Ms. Bows: It was okay. Rene took good care of me. She sort of adopted me and even told me that she was my "summer mother."
Dr. Balis: So Rene was very protective of you.
Ms. Bows: Very! Still is.
Dr. Balis: Tell me about your relationship later on as you got older.
Ms. Bows: After a while we became best friends. We were inseparable. Although she never let me forget that she was older than me. By three whole years.
Dr. Balis: How did this difference in ages express itself?
Ms. Bows: I think Rene thought that it was her job to experience things first. She would decide whether something was a good or bad thing and, if she approved, she would share her knowledge with me and introduce me to whatever the new experience was. There were quite a variety of new experiences which she approved of.
Dr. Balis: For example?
Ms. Bows: Oh, Rene taught me how to smoke. And how to hide the fact from my parents. Rene had sex first and thought it was her job to properly prepare me for the experience. Rene even arranged my first time.
Dr. Balis: Did Rene's leadership bother you?
Ms. Bows: Sometimes. Once, when I was in the fifth grade, I told Rene that a boy in my class touched my breasts. She thought that it was too early for me to engage in this kind of activity. She went to my school and punched this poor boy out in front of everyone. I felt very humiliated. I didn't talk to her for a whole day.
Dr. Balis: It sounds like Rene still behaved like your mother-protector.
Ms. Bows: Yes, I guess that's true. But she also did a lot of things that a mother wouldn't do.
Dr. Balis: Like teaching you how to smoke?
Ms. Bows: And how to kiss. And how to get high. I guess she was sort of a cross between a mother and an older sister.
Dr. Balis: How old were you when you first tried illegal substances?
Ms. Bows: Fourteen. I remember that it was quite an adventure. Rene was visiting us in San Francisco. She was approached by this older guy who was selling some marijuana. She called me at home and told me she was going with this guy to his boat, where he apparently kept his stash. She called me to let me know just in case this guy killed her. She thought that he might try to dispose of her body in the river, weighted down with stones. I told her that she was insane to go with him if she felt this way. Rene laughed and said that she was exaggerating. But she did manage to mention that he was thin and blond in his thirties, that he limped, and that he had a boat named Elizabeth. I think she was really scared, but she was going to do it anyway. I was supposed to cover for her, but Rene was gone the whole night and only came back at about four the next morning. By that time, I was ready to tell everything to my parents and call the police. The next evening, I smoked my first joint.
Dr. Balis: And?
Ms. Bows: Actually, nothing happened. I was expecting to really get stoned. Hallucinate and everything. But I didn't feel anything at all. It was quite a disappointment. Rene said that it was just because it was the first time, and I guess she was right because it definitely worked later on.
Dr. Balis: Sylvia, our time is up.
Ms. Bows: That's fine, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: I'd like to schedule another appointment in a week. How is this same time and day next week?
Ms. Bows: It's okay for me.
Dr. Balis: All right, 4 pm on Tuesday, July 30th. And Sylvia, I want you to seriously examine your changes in behavior and at our next session we will decide on your medication. Okay?
Ms. Bows: Yes, Doctor. I'll do my homework.
Dr. Balis: I'll take a look at your computerized family tree tonight. Goodbye, Sylvia. I know I always say it, but please feel free to give me a call for any reason.
Ms. Bows: Yes, Doctor. Thank you. Goodbye.
Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later

Button to Sylvia Bows' Family Collage Project Sylvia Bows' Family Collage Project
Button to Dr. Balis' Notes Doctor Balis' Notes on this Session

Button to Sylvia Bows' Transcripts Transcripts of Sylvia Bows' Therapy Sessions
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