Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 3/21/97

Saturday, March 15, 1997

Sunday, March 16, 1997

Monday, March 17, 1997

9:25 am. Telephone Call from Melissa Landau re: George Landau. Melissa called in to cancel George's session for today. She sounded very pleasant with a melodious voice. She said that George has a fever and is in bed, and told me that George wanted me to know that he was "just plain sick this time." Since it's not the first Monday of the month, perhaps he really is sick. Melissa said that she was surprised George hadn't been difficult during our sessions, describing him with affection as a "stubborn old horse."

11 am. Seventh Session with Peter Hossfeld. Peter came in a hunted man. He is afraid to even think improper thoughts for fear Serena is going to divine them. And it is improper for Peter to ruminate on his unhappiness in his relationship with Serena. She has totally taken over his world outside his job. His social life has disappeared--his friends no longer come over. Peter is accountable for every conversation, every action, every thought. He even said that he is going to have to come up with a simulated therapy session which sanitizes our real discussion about his unhappiness in the relationship. Peter feels like he is losing himself to Serena. Even as Peter feels trapped by her, he finds her services so indispensable that he cannot bring himself to free himself from her. By going through past life regression with Serena, which sounded a lot like hypnosis, Peter now believes that he was a Nazi interrogator for the Gestapo in a past life. Peter described his now vivid memory of participating in a brutal interrogation as the torturer. Now, Peter believes that he must overcome the bad karma which springs from his past lives. And Peter seems to believe that Serena is the only person who can help him do that. Peter described me as his "Earth Anchor" which I felt was quite flattering, actually. Peter said that when he gets too far out there, he asks himself what Dr. Balis would say, and it helps him ground himself in reality. But the solution to Peter's problem with Serena might require quite a different tack on my part. I feel more strongly than ever that Serena is both emotionally abusive and has abused the trust which Peter has placed in her to try to gain herself a boyfriend. Serena cannot be simultaneously both a girlfriend and a counselor, even a psychic one. The two never work well together. But even if I am able to convince Peter to leave Serena, then everything unpleasant or difficult in Peter's future will be attributed to the malevolent exercise of her powers. Perhaps Peter must find another whom he invests with even more power than he does Serena, but who will act more in Peter's best interest. Perhaps I can encourage Peter to find another person who can both act as a spiritual guide for Peter's quest and who Peter believes has the power to protect him from Serena's power. Peter mentioned at one point that he desired extra powers for himself that would make him strong enough to hold her off. Perhaps we should investigate what Peter's belief system will allow Peter to believe about attaining psychic power. It would be ideal if Peter thought himself powerful enough to meet whatever threat that being honest with Serena poses.

Tuesday, March 18, 1997

12 pm. Fifth Session with Eliza Raven. Eliza looked a lot better this session, not nearly as drained, at least before it began. Luke begged his way to a forgiveness. Eliza also told me that she occasionally uses her lunch hour to take journeys on the astral plane. She sometimes writes down her experiences and she read me one which seemed important to her--about being a Raven (as in bird) and gently taunting a lone traveler in the form of a beautiful man. Although she didn't describe anything overtly sexual, Eliza clearly had a sexual interest in the male dream figure, even saying at one point that she didn't want Luke to catch her in the mini-affair she had on the astral plane. Eliza was annoyed with me when I suggested that she might have been dreaming rather than traveling in a spiritual world. She insisting that she knows the difference--this wasn't nighttime so she wasn't sleeping. This happened on her lunch hour while she was mediating, so it couldn't be a dream. I wasn't about to argue with her on this point. Eliza also reported that her crying spells are diminishing somewhat. She reports about a 50% reduction to once every other day or so. When I suggested that we try Zoloft, she told me that she is taking birth control pills and wanted me to check to make sure there was no drug interaction. She's taking Triphasil 28 and I don't see any relevant drug interaction. But Eliza smokes and my PDR warns that smoking while taking Triphasil 28 can increase the risk of serious cardiovascular side effects. It says that women who use oral contraceptives in general should be strongly advised not to smoke. I'm not sure that she will welcome this news from her psychiatrist, but I should point it out to her during our next session. We started to talk about the anger that Eliza feels towards her mother. The anger was so strong that Eliza said it's only recently that she can be in the same room with her mother without fantasizing about murdering her. Apparently, her father and brother never had that kind of anger towards Eliza's mother after her departure. Eliza describes their reaction as denial followed by mourning as if her mother was dead. Eliza believes that she has taken on her father's and brother's anger for them, relieving them of the burden of feeling it. And, in fact, Eliza feels a lot of anger towards her father and her brother too. I decided to explore that anger in a little more detail and became fairly aggressive in my questioning. I demanded that she try to justify the anger towards her brother and father. Of course, I'm not very interested in logical justifications for such things, but I felt that it would be an effective avenue to explore these feelings. And indeed it was. Eliza admitted that she idolized her mother prior to her leaving. She envied her the position she had at the center of the family, on a pedestal. When her mother left, Eliza took over that position. But she was too young and the burden was too much for a scared little girl, as she put it. She reacted to the loneliness and to the responsibilities of her position by repressing a lot of anger and resentment. When the image of her mother was unable to absorb any more of her anger, she directed it against her father and her brother. Without communicating with them and while actively hiding her feelings, she resented that her father and brother didn't divine her needs. And she was angry with them for putting her into the position that she had really wanted to be in originally. Eliza wept twice during the session, the second time accompanied by a nosebleed. And although she was angry with me for making her cry, she admitted that the session had been valuable.

4 pm. Conversation with Sylvia Bows and Tom Bows at the California Pacific Medical Center. Sylvia delivered her twins on Monday, St. Patrick's Day. When I arrived at Sylvia's room, she was alone and in good spirits. We even exchanged a few jokes. Roald, named after her grandfather, was born vaginally and is well enough to go home with Sylvia at the end of the week. Grant, the smaller of the two, began to suffer distress in utero and was delivered via c-section. He was just over 1.4 kilos at birth. He is now in the neonatal intensive care unit. Tom came by the room and, together, we walked over to visit Grant. Tom told me that, for now, Sylvia is going to come back home with him after they are released from the hospital. But the depth of his feeling that Sylvia is somehow unclean after having intercourse with a number of men is undiminished. He was clearly exhausted and opened up a lot more than I would have expected. He talked about having seen another father around the hospital worrying about an infant at the ICU, and then having seen him destroyed when he found out that his child had died. Tom identified with that father and, I think, realized how lucky he really is. At the ICU, Grant was completely enclosed in life support and isolation equipment. Tom could stick his finger in through a gloved port on the side of the incubator and Grant could grab a hold of it. Grant's strong infant grasping reflex has reassured Tom that he is a tough little boy. Tom almost gave me a complement, telling me that he was pleased I would be continuing the sessions with Sylvia. Then he said he felt that way because Sylvia obviously needed more therapy. I really hope that I can help them patch up their differences. After I left Tom, I wandered a bit around the neonatal intensive care unit. Tom was right, they are filled to capacity. I talked with a nurse and she said that there are still more infants that need treatment, but they are shipping them by ambulance up to UCSF's facility. The staff tried hard to make the place look like a nursery setting. A large mural right at the entrance had fairy tale pictures of little bunnies and flowers. But it didn't eliminate the feeling that this was a place full of painful struggle sometimes ending in death for tiny infants. I can't imagine how hard it would be to work there. I was impressed by their dedication. I saw one young doctor walk out of the ICU. He was momentarily embarrassed that I was there to catch him wiping a tear from his eye. He shouldn't have been.

Wednesday, March 19, 1997

8:50 am. Another fax arrived from the Anonymous Faxer. After two weeks of nothing, Hal has sent another image. This one depicts an open locket with a woman (Mother?) on the left and a man (Self Portrait?) on the right. The man is reaching out of his frame to grab the mother on the cheek. While her expression is a smirk, it isn't clear whether the hand is caressing her check, pinching it affectionately, or clawing at it. The man's expression has a sexual intensity to it, as if he is grabbing the face of a lover. While the woman remains flat in her frame, the man clearly is a three dimensional being, able to reach out of his frame, perhaps even break reality. The woman is dressed in an old fashioned, almost victorian style, while he appears to be naked. The man appears to be in his mid 20s. If this is a self portrait, it is the most flattering depiction yet of the Anonymous Faxer in a male form. The man shown is well-muscled and handsome--quite a difference from the mangled men which usually populate the Anonymous Faxer's images. And the images are inside a locket. Lockets are used to keep the images of people who are precious to the wearer. In my last e-mail, I asked about the Faxer's sense of being "Man of the House." Did he take over as a surrogate husband for his mother? Was there sexual tension surrounding their new relationship? That's my sense of what this image shows. It is a man who is both son and lover to the woman, clawing violently at her cheek with a gesture which she mistakes for a caress.

Thursday, March 20, 1997

4 pm. Thirty-Fourth Session with Anna Green. I really hate Martin, that submissive son of a bitch. He's going to hurt Anna, I can just feel it. He sent her a drawing which is undeniably brilliant, but completely twisted. Anna is depicted as a whip-wielding, leather-clad, bare-breasted woman without a head, and with nails hammered into her leg. He said it had something to do with a dream. Anna liked the image. She is malleable and she is trying to fashion herself into a dominatrix just to please Martin. But it doesn't resonate with her, so it is going to end badly for all concerned. And it's really not my personal feelings for Anna getting in the way of my therapeutic judgment. Well, not entirely. This Martin character is just all wrong for her. Anna said that she can intellectualize about her relationship with Martin now; the passion has cooled to the point where she could walk away if she wanted to. But I think that Anna is fooling herself. Her pattern is to idealize a partner, create fantasy expectations and then, when the relationship doesn't work out, to excoriate herself for imagined personal lapses or faults. In any case, Anna is now researching S&M by hanging out in dirty bookstores, striking up a friendship with a woman, Kathy, who works there and enlisting her assistance as a guide to the mysteries of S&M phone sex, and then practicing that phone sex with Martin. Apparently, Martin and Anna spent every night last week in torrid conversation, with Anna dominating Martin long distance. When I asked her whether she was prepared to act out in reality what she had been describing over the phone, Anna hesitated. She realizes that describing the infliction of punishment is much different from actually inflicting pain on someone, but I think Anna is steeling herself to really play the master in reality. Anna senses my hostility towards Martin. I really must not let her know how I feel about him. I'm afraid my instincts in this matter might not be strictly professional.

Friday, March 21, 1997

4 pm. Third Session with Thomas Darden. Tom began the session very agitated and flustered--a "pissy mood" as he put it. His hands were never still, violently punctuating his sentences, and as he sat in the chair, I got a sense of a coiled spring, ready to be released at any second. Tom's feelings are quite close to the surface. With gallows humor, Tom said that he was agitated because of the recent news of the shooting at the fast food restaurant. Tom was disturbed because the news reports all focused on how the neighbors thought the gunmen was a quiet sort--he kept to himself, he was a good neighbor, clean yard, etc. It's true that the media often portrays a picture of the quiet loner as a potential vicious psychopath. And that's what Tom reacted to. He feels that he is treated differently because of his shyness and social phobia--that there is a stigma in this society if one is not caught up in a social whirl. But Tom's agitation on this point was seemingly disproportionate. Sometimes I think he's joking and sometimes it seems that he is really serious. Tom told me a bit about his childhood after his father's death. He became withdrawn in school, his grades dropped, and he started to suffer nocturnal hallucinations of his father returning as a frightening, grinning figure. He was taken to a child psychiatrist who sounds dreadful. Tom was caught up in the early 80s great rush to prescribe Ritalin. It is illustrative that a shy, quiet, withdrawn kid, perhaps remarkable for using his hands in explosive exposition, would be prescribed such a drug. Ritalin is arguably appropriate only for those kids for whom hyperactivity has reached the level of a learning disorder. The Ritalin eliminated the nocturnal hallucinations but they also destroyed Tom's appetite and imagination. At around that time, his mother married his hated stepfather John, and the family moved to Scranton, Pennsylvania. Tom describes everything as tasting like ash. He dropped a lot of weight and was afraid of crowds of unknown kids. He was especially terrified of the lunch hour. Often, he would skip lunch by hiding in the bathroom. When a group of other kids prevailed upon him to sit with them, he would be unable to get up for food or to interact with others until the end of the hour, when he could dissolve into the crowd of kids leaving the cafeteria. For a kid with a developing avoidant personality disorder, the combination of a father's death, Ritalin, the requirement of learning to live with a new family structure and surrogate father, and a move to a new and unfamiliar environment solidified Tom's problems. Tom took Ritalin on and off for two years, until he chose to stop by himself. Tom described an atypical episode at school where he sought revenge on a bully who had singled Tom out for his special attention. Tom used super glue to good effect, causing the bully's pants to rip at the end of a class. Although the bully suspected and accused Tom of being the perpetrator, the teacher refused to credit such an act to shy, quiet, withdrawn Tom. Interestingly, Tom believes that he may have sought his revenge in part as a reaction to the stereotype which exempted him from his teacher's suspicion. That stereotype is precisely the opposite from the quiet loner as psychopath stereotype that Tom railed against in the beginning of the session. In our next session, we are to discuss Tom's stepfather John.

Arrow, Straight, Left, Earlier Arrow, Straight, Right, Later
Button to Charles Balis' Diary & Log Charles Balis' Personal Diary & Log

TCT Bottom Bar Links to Top of Page Pipsqueak Productions © 1996. All Rights Reserved.