Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 3/28/97

Saturday, March 22, 1997

Sunday, March 23, 1997

Monday, March 24, 1997

9 am. Third Session with Jerico Freeman. Jerry seemed stressed and tired during this session. He said that he was thinking of calling off our session and calling in sick, even though he doesn't believe that he is suffering from any physical ailment. He just admits to being tired with an aching back. But after a bit of evasion, he told me what is really bothering him--he's having difficulty maintaining an erection during intercourse. Apparently, his mind and attention is wandering. Jerry described having a very active sex life with Diane--an ex-prostitute that Jerry has taken in and is trying to keep from turning tricks. But now he's concerned that inadequate sexual performance will cause her to leave him. I told Jerry that this type of problem is virtually always treatable, unlike an inability to achieve an erection at all, which sometimes has an underlying physical component which can be difficult to treat. Jerry's sexual problem sounds more the result of stress and exhaustion than anything else. I do want Jerry to get to an internist though. Doug Halsey was good, but I have to make sure that he is on Jerry's health plan. Jerry did tell me that he was ordered to seek psychiatric help by his supervisor. Jerry can't say the word "supervisor" without inserting the word "prick" into the same sentence. Jerry isn't one for a submissive attitude towards those with authority.

10:15 am. Telephone Call from Serena LNU and Peter Hossfeld. I got a weird call today. A woman was on the phone and my immediate impression was one of those imperious alien ambassadors from Star Trek. She had this high, sing song voice that didn't really sound human. Or at least she did in the beginning of our conversation. As it continued, she let it drop somewhat, until I could detect a faint New York accent--Brooklyn would be my guess. She was Serena, Peter's psychic, and she has been successful in sinking her tentacles deep into every cranny of his life. Apparently, my interference could no longer be tolerated, and I was told that my services were no longer required. Naturally, I wanted Peter's verification that this was indeed his wish. But she had anticipated that. A cowed Peter got onto the line and said that he really didn't want to continue our therapy sessions. Peter said that he couldn't be pulled in different directions right now because a concentrated focus on the work that he's doing with Serena is necessary if he is to escape the burdens of his past lives. It's unfortunate, because as Peter said in our last session, I was his earth anchor. Without something to keep him afloat, I'm afraid he'll be swallowed whole into a mire of new age mysticism that will lead him deeper and deeper into his epileptic seizures and further away from proper medical treatment for his condition. And beyond his medical condition, he was clearly crying out for help during our last session. I'm sure he would have felt great relief if he had returned home to find that Serena had left for good. But that's not to be. Serena has tightened her grip. I'm powerless, really, to help Peter. I can't force him to stay in therapy and he did seem to be acting under his own volition without duress during our telephone call. I hope that Peter will be able to sneak away and contact me when Serena is not within earshot.

12:10 pm. I received an e-mail from the Anonymous Faxer. He gives a very lucid account of the emotional sterility of being strong for the women in his household after his father died. He was called upon to perform the worldly tasks, while his mother, her two sisters, and his two sisters used each other for their emotional support. The Anonymous Faxer started to feel like a cipher in his own house: his mother was weak but hollow. He said that there were times in his childhood where he wanted to shake his mother and scream at her that he was real and her son--not the husband that she wanted him to be. The Anonymous Faxer said that things would have been easier if he had been a girl.

2 pm. Seventh Session with George Landau. I hadn't realized until this session the extent of George's phobia--a full fledged phobia of technology, particularly machines or devices which utilize electricity. He has no idea how to use a computer and, more than that, he is terrified of the box itself. His fear is not merely that he will reveal himself as technological illiterate, although he recognizes that to be true as well, but rather that the computer itself is somehow evil and sentient. I haven't noticed any particular ritualistic patterns, so I don't think that we're looking at obsessive compulsive disorder. I've had some success using flooding techniques in the past. George will initially hate me, of course, but I think that repeated exposure to the hated stimulus in a controlled setting might lessen the anxiety associated with the computer in his office and for his training program. Or we might try the guided visualization techniques of systematic desensitization. I must remember to ask George about the actual feelings that he experiences when he is in contact with a trigger. Does he have full-blown panic symptoms, or is it just a sense of unease and an inability to concentrate?

Tuesday, March 25, 1997

Wednesday, March 26, 1997

4 pm. Thirty-Third Session with Sylvia Bows. At Sylvia's request, I cancelled yesterday's session and we met today at the hospital. Sylvia and Tom are spending most of their time at the hospital, living in the waiting room near Labor and Delivery with Roald. It's insane--the hospital released her and Roald on Friday, but Grant is still in the ICU. So what is Sylvia to do? She has to be near Grant, if only to feed him on schedule. And, of course, she has to care for Roald. If it weren't for Sylvia's exhaustion, it would be almost comical. But the nurses seem to be understanding, even if the hospital administration is not. Sylvia thinks that she is something of a celebrity and that the nurses are getting entertainment at her expense. Apparently, Richard showed up at the ICU, announced that he was the father, and demanded to see Grant. Richard and Tom almost came to blows and were both escorted out by Security. Another time Hal showed up and said that he was the father. So Sylvia, the lady with twins of different ages, has a kid with three men claiming to be the father. I have to admit that a story like that would have made the rounds back at Columbia. Sylvia has been trying to get Tom to talk about the issues facing their relationship, but has noticed that she can't even get Tom to look her in the eyes. Tom seems to be avoiding any painful issues by detaching himself from any personal emotional content that doesn't involve the twins. Richard is continuing his legal custody fight and has filed papers seeking visitation rights so that he can form a lasting bond with the boys while his petition is before the courts. I was looking for signs of postpartum depression, but for all her tiredness, I think Sylvia has escaped that. Perhaps she is just too busy. But there is an edginess to her that wasn't there before and that I can't ascribe all to sleep deprivation. Near the end of our session, she almost seemed to be expressing jealousy of Grant for garnering so much of Tom's attention. Or perhaps she is worried that Tom has a preference for Grant over Roald. Either way, it seemed strange and even Sylvia seemed to be uncomfortable with having those feelings. I should be watchful to see if those emotions crop up again.

Thursday, March 27, 1997

12 pm. Third Session with Christina Herald. Christina apologized profusely for missing her last session. She told a tale of woe that involved her ex-boyfriend Kevin using guilt to convince her to lend him her car. He used the car to go on a drinking spree which ended with the car being totaled and his being arrested for driving while intoxicated. She spent the next morning at the police station instead of on my couch. I told her that I had spoken with Doug Halsey and that she is in good health. Christina even indicated that she was cutting down on her caffeine intake. I asked Christina to take a California Personality Inventory exam. Christina brought her cat Lancelot into the session, hiding it under a coat in a little animal carrier. I didn't even know it was there until it started making these horrible strange animal cries, completely uncatlike but very angry. When I first heard it, I thought of something being strangled. It's a cute thing though; a gray kitten about 2 months old. During the rest of the session, it wandered around my office, sniffing at things and actually very well behaved and completely harmless. In any case, Christina still keeps a record of her panic attacks, although she didn't show it to me today. But she told me of an incident which has added to her stress levels. Her younger brother Jonny, who looks up to Christina as an understanding and doting big sister, came over to dinner and then announced that he was a homosexual. Christina didn't have a particular problem with that, and they spent an hour talking about the "juicy bits" of male celebrities. The stress came when Jonny pleaded with Christina that she be the one to tell her father that he is gay after he has left for college in Minnesota. Christina tried to beg off, but she herself sees the logic in Jonny's choice of a messenger. Christina, though, feels herself buried under the bulk of other people's problems. She sees herself as a person who copes--who deals with problems instead of just whining about them. But that approach isn't without its drawbacks for her--witness the panic attacks. Not unlike her father, actually, Christina is obsessed with success and control. She told a story about publicly vilifying a professor who had just given her an A minus on a paper. Minus! How dare he gave her a minus! She surprised me at the end of the session by saying something nice about Kevin, whom I thought she was thoroughly disgusted with even prior to his totaling her car. She said that she left him because, although he was pretty good as a romantic partner, he didn't match her fantasy ideal, and she doesn't want to be bound to someone else when that perfect mate arrives in her life.

4 pm. Thirty-Fifth Session with Anna Green. Anna describes herself as running an S&M radio play complete with sound effects all over the telephone for Martin's benefit. She seems to be proud of her abilities in this area. But I'm afraid that the reality is going to be far different from her telephone fantasies. Even Anna has found that just imagining the reality of a fantasy can be unpleasant. Martin described a fantasy where he ejaculated into one of her shoes at a restaurant. He wanted Anna to put her foot in it and walk home. Anna neatly summed it up: "Yeech!" But on the phone, to not destroy Martin's masturbatory experience, she pretends to be excited by the fantasy. Martin is not going to have a good sense of where Anna's passions really lie. Couples in this stage of sexual intimacy usually are attempting to find out what turns each other on. Well, Anna knows about Martin, but Martin doesn't have a clue about Anna. This is bound to lead to difficulties later on. Martin told Anna about what happened at the S&M club after she ran out that night. Apparently, Martin reassured the other club members that he would take care of Anna. So they were surprised when the police burst in on them. Martin is persona non gratis at the S&M club in Michigan and Anna believes that Martin has been ostracized from the S&M community nationwide, although I told her that it wasn't one organization with tight control over its affiliates. However, Anna is secretly pleased that Martin might have difficulty spending time at S&M clubs. While pretending that she doesn't want to change his sexual preferences, she doesn't think that they are good for him. At the end of the session, she showed me another drawing that Martin sent to her. This one also depicts a headless woman, now topless with spiked heels, needle-like fingernails, and a nipple clamp, high stepping with impossibly long legs in some flowing black garb. I'll say this for Martin--he is willing to put his sexual preferences right out there.

Friday, March 28, 1997

I'm terribly ill with the flu. I've cancelled my appointments for today and hope that I'll be able to see patients on Monday.

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