Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 1/31/97

Saturday, January 25, 1997

Sunday, January 26, 1997

Monday, January 27, 1997

10 am. Third Session with Peter Hossfeld. In some ways, this was a very illuminating session with Peter. In other ways, I feel that he is extremely difficult to reach. The layers of mystical thinking shroud his own emotions so that everything has to percolate through this morass before being expressed. Does his expressions of rapture over the "heaven" he has experienced during his episodes and his desire to return to that place mask an underlying deep dissatisfaction with his own life? And how do I gauge that dissatisfaction when he wraps everything in a generalized dissatisfaction with western culture and society. He is concerned about the depth of the soul--an "old soul" who has been through many previous incarnations is how he puts it--and scoffs at the superficialities of life, and yet the filter of his own genuine personal truths and life experience has been clogged by a glutinous melange of new age philosophies. I was actually surprised that Peter had the tests performed that I ordered during our last session. I figured that he would laugh them off as belonging to an ossified western medical way of thinking. His blood work came back normal. He underwent a 16 lead EEG while awake and unsedated. No nasopharyngeal leads were used. Under photic driving with a strobe light, some spike patterns in the temporal lobe and diffuse slowing were observed, although not enough to identify a deep seizure focus. I am anxious to see the results of the MRI but I am now leaning to a tentative diagnosis of adult-onset temporal lobe epilepsy. Peter told me about his family. His parents were separated when he was the only child and was quite young--(How young?) His father disappeared with little or no contact with Peter subsequent to the separation. He lived with his mother alone until he was a teenager and his mother remarried. His relationship with his step-father was strained mostly because of Peter's resentment at his mother's remarriage. She went on to have two more girls and a boy with whom Peter seems not terribly close. Peter never really felt a part of his mother's new family. Now Peter has weekly telephone contact with his mother, but little other real contact. Peter has friends, but they sound mostly like work or school related social friends. He went to University of California at Berkeley so still sees some of his old classmates. He is also having sexual relations with several women, but he doesn't consider them to be "girlfriend" relationships. Rather, he sees his relationship with these women as that of friends who service each other's physical needs. Marriage doesn't seem particularly relevant to him, especially because he is almost expecting to be dead within a year. He calmly told me that that was the gist of a prediction of a psychic that he sought counseling from, and he didn't even sound particularly upset by the psychic's prognosis. I tried to reassure him, but with a brain tumor still not ruled out, I thought it unadvisable to scrape this calm veneer of ease towards his potential early mortality.

4 pm. Second Session with George Landau. Although George continues to fight me, I felt that we made a little headway during this session. His resentment of Simon Taylor is strong, but not irrational. For example, while he passionately criticized Mr. Taylor's implementation of a rigid form system for procurements within the company, he was not over broad in his condemnation--he was willing to admit that it had certain advantages even while he called the dehumanization that it represents "the disease of our time." George was considerably less agitated this session from the last. He also was wearing a brace on his right wrist. He wears the brace periodically for a repetitive strain injury which causes him frequent, although intermittent, discomfort. When I tried to talk about his injury, George became suspicious of my motives, fearing that I was "grasping at straws" to come up with something that was wrong with him. I think he was concerned that I was going to ascribe a psychological origin to his injury. George saw my Powerbook Computer and became quite upset with the idea that notes about him were contained inside. I explained about the password protection and that it wasn't networked together, and then he surprised me by questioning me closely about the power cord. He seemed to indicate that someone might be able to get in through that cord. Either he is remarkably unsophisticated about such matters given that he works at a high tech company, or he knows something that I've never even guessed at. It's too paranoid, isn't it? The power grid is a network of sorts and the electrical impulses that make up the contents of computer memory could cause some form of voltage oscillations or variations which might be read through that network. It sounds impossible, but it's an intriguing possibility. Unfortunately, the truth is that none of my notes on George have been insightful enough yet to warrant such snooping. I hope that I can pierce his very proper facade to get to some of the issues that are really bothering him.

Tuesday, January 28, 1997

4 pm. Twenty-Seventh Session with Sylvia Bows. Sylvia is at 28 weeks gestation with the older of the twins, 25 weeks with the younger. She is looking very pregnant. If I didn't know that she was pregnant with twins, I would say that she was in her last weeks of a 40 week gestation pregnancy. She says that the twins are extremely active--she describes them as squirming visibly sometimes, although I didn't see any movement during this session. She has a strange device next to her bedside--something that looks like an old Mac Classic computer with a telephone stuck into it. Apparently, she straps bands connected to the computer around her waist and the computer records her contractions and then transmits the information to a monitoring service via modem. A nurse on the other side of the phone can then interpret the contraction information and inform her doctor to allow him to adjust the dosage of the tocolytics appropriately. I was quite impressed. The device seems to allow a patient like Sylvia to spend time at home as opposed to being confined in a hospital connected to standard contraction and fetal heartbeat monitoring equipment. In fact, Sylvia bemoaned that she will not be able to go on her outings anymore. She'll miss them even though they are only to the hospital. Sylvia described how she has lost interest in the outside world--to the point of not reading the newspaper anymore. She says that her world has shrunk to the size of her uterus and she is aware of just how incongruous that is with her former personality. Sylvia said that she saw Hal in the hospital waiting room yesterday. He waited until Tom went to the bathroom and then came, knelt down in front of her, and placed his hands on her belly. Sylvia was appalled. Tom came back in and Hal did a little backtracking, although he told Tom that he and Sylvia were "very close." Sylvia said that she wanted to kick him and described his behavior as reminiscent of a weasel. She really is developing a sharp distaste for Hal. When I asked if Tom was suspicious of Hal, Sylvia said that she thinks that Tom believes that she had one lover and that was Richard. But Sylvia and Tom have clearly not discussed this at any length. Sylvia said that she hasn't been getting any e-mail from Hal or Richard for that matter, which makes me a bit suspicious of Tom. He might be keeping Sylvia isolated. I can imagine he could justify it by saying that he is trying to reduce Sylvia's stress, but I also imagine that it plays well into his agenda. When Sylvia said that she should try to contact Richard, I discouraged her and suggested that she wait until after the babies were born. Sylvia seems to be in the dark about her situation at work--she thinks that Lloyd has been doing his best to relieve the pressure of work for her benefit, although from what Hal told me, he might have more sinister motivations.

Wednesday, January 29, 1997

The Anonymous Faxer sent a new fax this morning. This one is actually quite a simple image. A hand sticks straight out of some water, clutching a giant @ symbol. The hand's owner is clearly drowning, perhaps going down now for the last time. The only lifeline is the @ symbol, which must refer to e-mail. The question is whether this is a general statement of the Anonymous Faxer's reliance on the Internet for his social interactions or whether it is an attempt to try to get me to communicate more verbally with the faxer. He's given me an idea, though. My fax machine broadcasts back a line of text to a machine sending incoming faxes. Right now, it is programmed to say Dr. Charles Balis. I don't really get faxes from anyone else. I'll reprogram it to say please. Perhaps e-mail will allow the Faxer the anonymity he requires. And at least e-mail would allow a two way channel for communications.

Thursday, January 30, 1997

4 pm. Twenty-Ninth Session with Anna Green. Anna came in after being sick all last week. She said that she missed a full week of work and was finally treated with antibiotics. Even now, she said she still felt a bit weak. Mostly Anna and I spoke about Martin's impending visit. He is arriving tomorrow night to spend the weekend with her. She is still hurt that he spurned her direct sexual advances during his last visit, but he called frequently while she was sick and she was clearly touched by his concern. She said that he sent her a get well present of high heeled shoes with an extreme five inch heel. Anna thought they were funny and impractical, but I bet that Martin demands that she model them during their weekend. It seems obvious that Martin has a strong foot fetish. Anna said that she sensed something weird in their telephone conversations--when she was annoyed at him, he seemed to really become interested in their conversation, asking lots of questions to further draw her out. Anna is afraid that he might have a medical problem like AIDS or impotence which he is afraid to confide in her because they have only known each other a short time. I really don't think that's it, but this weekend will probably end the speculation. Although intending to be supportive, she intends to confront him about it in a very direct way.

Friday, January 31, 1997

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