Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 2/28/97

Saturday, February 22, 1997

7:32 pm. Telephone Call with Anna Green. My service told me that Anna called and sounded hysterical so I called her back in Michigan. She was in the restroom of a restaurant which she had "escaped" to. Apparently Martin, the idiot, took her completely unprepared to an S&M club. Anna watched in horror in some basement dungeon as a girl was stripped naked and beaten with bamboo canes. She didn't take it well. Anna assumed that the girl was some sacrifice and that she was in the midst of some demonic cult. She started screaming and then fled from the place, found a telephone, called the police and then called me. I told her that I believed that the girl was acting on her own free will, but Anna believes that she was hypnotized or something. Actually, she thinks Martin was also hypnotized as well. I didn't realize that my time with Anna on the phone was limited, but suddenly she hung up when the police arrived at the restaurant. I tried calling back, but I just got some patron that told me that she had just walked out the front door with the police. It sounds like Anna got a glimpse of a world that she never knew existed.

Sunday, February 23, 1997

Monday, February 24, 1997

9 am. Telephone Conversation with Martin Fleck respecting Anna Green. Martin Fleck gave me a call at exactly 9 am this morning. Martin is very sorry about taking Anna unprepared to the S&M club--he realizes it didn't go as well as he was hoping. I tried to make it clear how stupid it was, but I felt like I was beating him when he was already down. He'd already figured out that it wasn't a good move. I'm not sure if he came to that realization when she ran from the room screaming or if it was when the police arrived or maybe it was when she didn't show up back at his place later on...what an ass! Well, he begged me to try to make it right with Anna. He thinks he may be in love with her and doesn't want to blow it over a misunderstanding. I told Martin that I was planning on having a long talk with Anna about S&M and its practitioners and that I would try to undo some of the damage he'd done. Groveling, he expressed his gratitude. He told me that Anna is missing. Obviously she didn't want to have anything more to do with him that weekend, so I wasn't very concerned. But I called her work and her home today and I haven't been able to locate her. I'm sure she's okay, but it worries me that I can't find her.

2 pm. Fifth Session with George Landau. George was subdued during this session. He was wearing his wrist brace and seemed clearly tired, almost haggard. Naturally enough, our conversation turned to his difficulties sleeping. He reports that he is having a series of nightmares which, in turn, cause night anxiety. I asked him to describe one, and he told of a nightmare about powerlessness and about primal fears of the anticipation of imminent pain and death. It was a horrible nightmare about being locked in a room and hearing someone in the next room being hideously tortured, knowing that next it would be your turn. The torturer in George's dream is an "it," not human but otherwise unknown. George is able to wake himself when the "it" arrives in his room, but apparently not before. George might be a good candidate for some lucid dreaming therapy--we'll have to consider that in future sessions. And while hypnosis might be beneficial, I have a sense that George would never permit himself to lose control to that degree. George is all about control--his greatest fears seem to revolve around losing it. George also has a unique concept of evil as a palpable entity--a smothering black force which seems to lurk in particular objects. He describes his mounting terror over the evil emanating from an overhead projector during a presentation at SII. George believes that if one does not see the evil force than one is probably not in danger. George realizes that his notion of evil is not the social norm and was embarrassed to have revealed so much to me. He insisted on changing the subject. Apparently George is actually having some perceptual delusions--he thinks that he sees evil as a physical phenomenon. This makes his treatment a greater imperative than I believed before. But George rejects somatic treatments, disdaining the idea of any drug therapies. I think that also stems from his desire not to lose control. Since lucid dreaming is all about gaining control, perhaps this would be an acceptable way for George to be able to face his terrors.

Tuesday, February 25, 1997

12 pm. Third Session with Eliza Raven. Luke joined Eliza during the first half of this session, against her will as it turned out. Luke is a presentable young man who is highly emotional and quite self righteous. He came across as somewhat of a bully--he thinks nothing of emotionally browbeating Eliza to get what he wants. She says that he only is verbally abusive, and then only when he is angry. But he is highly excitable and I imagine he is angry quite a bit. Eliza became increasingly hysterical during Luke's tirade, ending in uncontrollable crying and a substantial nosebleed. We probably stopped for a full 10 minutes during the session to allow her to regain control of herself. But Eliza didn't roll over for Luke during the session. Although I suspect that she is generally submissive to his wants, she was quite forthright in requesting that he leave and forcefully resisted his request to give up her preference in religious faith to his. Eliza is a devotee of Wicca, a religion which she describes as a descendant from ancient pagan religions which worship nature. Luke says that her religious practices are freaking out his mother, with whom they both live. I assume that both he and his mother are Catholic. At the end of the session, Eliza said that she had to go home to patch things up with Luke. It is her role to be the peacemaker, even though, from my vantage point, it would be more appropriate for Luke to apologize to Eliza. During the next session, I should explore the possibility of somatic treatments for Eliza. Perhaps a tranquilizer would be most appropriate, although I'm not convinced that she isn't suffering from depression.

Wednesday, February 26, 1997

9 am. I received an image from the Anonymous Faxer. This one is in direct response to the e-mail that I sent on February 21. There I asked about his family and siblings. Now I have his response. The image is rich with symbolism. A little boy on a tricycle has toppled a man, presumably his father, from the pedestal labeled "Man of the House." The father has shattered on the ground. In the background are four women: I'm guessing a mother and three daughters. The mother is sitting with one of the daughters, who looks like she is trying to be as much like her mother as possible. The other younger daughters are engaged with each other, the middle girl holding up the baby girl doll-fashion out of her antique baby carriage. The Faxer is obviously the boy on the tricycle. I get the sense that it's the women of the house who have placed him on the pedestal, taking his father's place in their esteem. He is on a tricycle and only on one wheel at that, so his position on the pedestal is a bit unbalanced. But the women are absorbed primarily with each other, leaving him in a privileged but solitary position. The father is clearly out of the picture--either physically removed or emotionally wasted--pictured as broken on the floor. The dress of the women is from the Victorian era--in fact the mother is sitting before a spinning wheel. The father is clearly in dress from the 1940s. Is the Faxer trying to suggest a conventional morality or a strict background? In many ways, the picture reveals more of the Anonymous Faxer's childhood than a therapy session would. And I would guess that the process of creating these images is not merely clarifying but perhaps cathartic.

4 pm. Thirty-First Session with Sylvia Bows. At 30 and 32 weeks gestational age, the twins are doing fine. Sylvia went to a prenatal check-up yesterday and there was Hal, lurking around the hospital. Hal pretended that he didn't see Sylvia so Sylvia pretended she didn't see him. But when she left, Hal tailed her car across town to her house. Apparently Hal wanted to find out where she lived. So today, Hal comes back with a big ladder strapped to the roof of his car. He puts it up against the side of Sylvia's house and, balancing a boom box and a basket of flowers, tries to play a balcony scene with Sylvia. Sylvia called for Tom, who was home, and Tom's entrance completely flustered Hal, who tried to rapidly descend the ladder. But he lost his grip and fell to the bushes below. Sylvia was laughing until she discovered that Hal had really injured himself. So, much against Hal's will, Tom took Hal to the emergency room where is he is now. I ended the session early with Sylvia because I wanted to go see Hal while he was still at the hospital.

5:15 pm. Conversation with Hal Mainor and Tom Bows. I managed to catch Hal still in the emergency room. His leg was in a cast and his face had been bandaged. Judging from the dressing, he suffered a fairly serious laceration just above his left eye. He looked completely dejected and the presence of Tom and myself just seemed to make things worse. He obviously felt like he had made a complete ass out of himself and, to be frank, I did nothing to disabuse him of that notion. He wanted us all to leave him alone in the worst way, but I felt strongly that Hal needed to put this incident into an appropriate context against his life with his wife and children. Hal realizes that he has some serious explaining to do to his wife as to how he came by his injuries and, presumably, as to why he didn't call her when he was at the hospital. Somehow, I don't think he'll tell the truth. I once heard about a guy who had a major scar on his forehead that he had always maintained he got playing football. The truth was actually that he had injured himself on the rim of a toilet bowl while he was throwing up from too much alcohol. Hal is going to find his own football story. I think Hal has awakened from his Sylvia dream, however. He was very upset that she was up in her window laughing at his calamity. He saw himself as a dashing romantic figure and was mortified to find himself seen as a slapstick comedian.

Thursday, February 27, 1997

8:48 am. Anna cancelled her session today. She said that she doesn't want to face what happened in Michigan yet. She wants time to become "grounded in reality" again--spending time in commonplace activities with her parents. She's trying to use comfortable, familiar surroundings to help her repress her strong feelings generated by the S&M club. I urged her to come in and talk--sometimes when a person is in crisis, the session is all the more revealing--but she was firm in her resolve. She even admitted that she was hoping that she could talk to the answering service so that she wouldn't have to counter my arguments. When she said that, I knew that it would be pointless to continue so we rescheduled the appointment for next week.

12 pm. First Session with Christina Herald. Christina arrived a bit late for our session but in high spirits, as though this was some great new adventure that she was embarking on. She is a young woman, almost 23, small and lively, with shoulder length brown hair and large hazel eyes. Her face is round and dimples when she smiles which is often. Her eyes are expressive, and her face is extremely animated, showing her quickly changing emotions clearly. Her face could almost be called cherubic if it weren't for the glint of wicked intelligence in her gaze, and the slightly cynical tilt to her smile. There are shadowed circles under her eyes, indicating a serious lack of sleep which was her initial complaint when she phoned for the appointment. She was dressed casually, in a long broomstick pleated skirt and a t-shirt, with Birkenstock sandals on her feet and carrying a backpack. As a graduate student in education at the University of California at Berkeley, I guess you could call her outfit Berkeley Basic. Her hair is tied back in a ponytail. She speaks rapidly, almost with a hint of challenge underneath her words as though she's ready to defend her point of view at any moment. She was thoughtful and serious when she discussed her panic attacks, almost self-recriminating. Christina seemed very curious about me and my office. I saw her carefully survey all of the items in the office. Evidently she satisfied herself eventually because she became quite focused towards the end of our session together. Christina describes herself as both assertive and bossy. She worries that she will alienate people because of her directness, to the point of interrupting herself to ask whether an innocuous remark hers has somehow offended. But Christina was quite willing to jump to the heart of her complaints with little prompting. Christina has been suffering what she describes as panic attacks since she was 15. Apparently aggregated by being away from home and by caffeine, she nevertheless suffers them when her life is otherwise seemingly well ordered. The panic attacks are sometimes accompanied by claustrophobia but not always. They do, however, always involve a cardiac component. She suffers heart palpitations, pounding heart, and accelerated heart rate. She also describes nausea or a smothering sensation, and a feeling of dizziness. Although sometimes linked to this disorder, Christina reports no symptoms suggesting agoraphobia. Although Christina reports that her panic attacks last for hours, I suspect that they follow a standard pattern--a sudden onset of the attack which peaks within minutes and persists for a duration of between five and thirty minutes. Her report of continuing symptoms probably represents either a recurrence of panic or mild symptoms which that continue after the attack. Christina believes that her condition may be hereditary as she shares them with her female relatives. I note that there are some twin studies which suggest that she might be right. Apparently there was approximately higher concordance rate for anxiety disorder among monozygotic twins than dizygotic twins--45% compared to about 15%. I will confirm my observations during our next session, but then I will want to send Christina to a good internist to rule out possible physical disorders which could mimic panic disorder--hyperthyroidism or supraventricular tachycardia come to mind. I should also explore Christina's willingness to explore somatic options: I've had very good results with serotonin reuptake inhibitors. At a minimum, Christina's caffeine intake should be lowered--the anxiogenic effects often exacerbate the disorder. And I bet that Christina is drinking espressos at Caffe Roma or buying her coffee at Peets--which would have a much higher caffeine level than the 50-150 mg. commonly quoted as in a cup of coffee. I gave Christina some standard Relaxation Training exercises, mostly for her insomnia. Christina's previous experience with a psychologist counselor was somewhat unsatisfactory and she did not continue beyond one session. I'm hopeful that she will return next week as she promised because I think I can really give her some relief.

Friday, February 28, 1997

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