Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 11/29/96

Saturday, November 23, 1996

Sunday, November 24, 1996

Monday, November 25, 1996

10 am. Fourteenth Session with Joseph Mazurka. Joseph made a surprise appearance at his "usual" time. He has apparently really gotten himself in deep with a gang of terrorists and he doesn't see any way out, even if he was so inclined. He is having severe money problems--the IRS has garnished his wages and he apparently borrowed money from loan sharks--and he sees the terrorist group as his only escape. The terrorists promised that they would try to find Carol and the kids. Apparently they have sophisticated computer skills allowing them access to a group of secure databases, although I sense Mazurka could be easily fooled with some fancy graphics and a few phony records. He thinks if he can just talk to Carol face to face, he can intimidate her into coming back. It isn't as if he particularly cares about Carol or the kids. Rather, it's as if they left on their terms and somehow he lost face or got cheated. Actually, the terrorists sound like they are planning a purely criminal endeavor--for money rather than principles or idealism. With the garnishment of Joseph's wages, Joseph doesn't sound very interested in continuing to go to work at SII. So Joseph has lost his wife and kids, his house, probably his job. He is in trouble with the IRS and with loan sharks and has no money. And he is hooked up with some terrorist outfit who'll probably end up taking his life. Still, Joseph doesn't see that he has any internally created problems. Everything is someone else's fault. He is totally unwilling to try to cause any changes in his life, or even to take any of the medication which I've prescribed. Given that he is determined to go straight to Hell, I told Joseph that there wasn't much to talk about--other than what was the quickest path. I told Joseph that if he was determined to destroy himself, that he could leave me out of it. Joseph interpreted this as my throwing him out of our sessions. I left the door open if he ever thought that he might be interested in making some changes and I asked him why he was coming to the sessions in the first place. He said that if he just disappeared, he'd like someone to know what had happened to him. At the end of the session, he leaned over to me and said, "Watch out for the Irishman; he's a killer." I hope I don't read about Joseph in the newspaper or hear about his body washed up somewhere. I have no idea what I'd do or who I'd contact with what information I've got.

2 pm. Eighth Session with Sarah Wright. Robby moved in with Sarah and Jeff this weekend. Apparently there has been a shift in the balance of power in the Wright household and Sarah now believes that she holds all the cards. In the past, Jeff was quite tightfisted with money, apparently. Besides for certain bills, most of the household extras came out of the money that Sarah earned. Now Sarah has demanded that Jeff deposit $300 a week into her private bank account to compensate her for ministering to Robby. Jeff laughed in her face and Sarah apparently hit him in response. But my guess is that Jeff will bow to her demand. Sarah has made it clear that she is only staying with Jeff for the children's sake, although I suspect she is also staying with him because he will make it easier for Robby. Everything revolves around Robby in the Wright household, for both Sarah and for Jeff. Robby apparently sold his dental practice, although the way that Sarah talked about it, she apparently doesn't know that it was an economic transaction between Robby and the referred dentist. When Robby gave Sarah a chance to talk privately with him about all the issues that are swirling around her, she froze and was overwhelmed--finally leaving without saying anything at all. These issues are certainly going to come to the fore over the next few months. Sarah made a set of rules for Jeff and delighted in the arbitrary nature of some of them. She's enjoying flexing her muscles--quite literally. I told her that physical abuse was not appropriate given that she didn't fear that Jeff would harm her, but she equates her actions with Jeff's psychological abuse in lying to her over the years. Sarah has split her current situation into two--one is that the man she's married to is in love with another man and the second is that the man she loves is dying of AIDS. With respect to the former, she is just considering herself not married to Jeff anymore, even though they have the current arrangement for the sake of the children.

Received a newspaper article, presumably from Helen Gregory. Slipped under my door when I came in this morning was a newspaper article dated November 25, 1929. Dated exactly 67 years ago to the day, the article was from a newspaper in Manchester, England about a young boy who was being questioned in connection with a fatal rail bridge collapse. The accompanying illustration shows a railroad bridge which looks very much like the bridge in Helen Gregory's doodle that Ruby gave to me on September 12th. Of course, the most important thing that I note is that Helen is still alive somewhere. This is the first I've heard from her since the postcard she sent me of the bridge in France. I still don't know whether she slipped this under my door in person or whether she had Ruby do it. But I was very happy to know that Helen is still in a position to think of me, although perhaps in a rather cryptic fashion. What does this article mean? What is the significance of the date? November 25, 1929 was a Monday as is today. The story describes a young boy who was probably autistic given the description of him as a mute with head ticks. The treatment of the mentally disabled in 1929 was obviously not of the highest order, and the thought of this boy undergoing a police interrogation after a serious incident like the train collapse fills me with a sense of horror. So now there are two bridges that are quite similar to the one that Helen described as involving Matthew, one in England and another in France. And what relation does the autistic boy have to Matthew's troubles? I feel sure there is one, but I can't fathom how an incident that happened 67 years ago could have much bearing on Helen's current obsession. The boy, if he was still alive, would be 79 years old now.

Received another letter from George Eisenstadt of CalaCare HMO. Here it comes. They are putting the squeeze on me. While acknowledging they are contractually bound to pay my fee, wouldn't I voluntarily agree to a lower fee so that we can all advance the goal of lower health care costs together? Right! Apparently I was correct and they are sending patients to another psychology group instead of directing them to me. I couldn't understand why I hadn't received any new patients from SII in the longest time. Now I know. They are actively directing patients away from my care. I'm certain that my stand on the confidentiality of patient records hasn't helped my cause much. When my contract expires, I don't think it is likely to be renewed. I'm not sure what to do. If I lower my rates, how do I pay the medical school loans and still have enough to pay rent? This solo practice puts me completely at the mercy of the HMO, and I initially turned to the HMO contract to gain security in this new venture. Perhaps the answer is to more actively recruit patients who are not controlled by the HMO's whims.

Tuesday, November 26, 1996

4 pm. Twentieth Session with Sylvia Bows. Sylvia is planning on attending the Thanksgiving Dinner of the Damned. Tom has decided to host a big family gathering with both his relatives and Sylvia's in attendance at their house. He has invited Sylvia to attend and she plans on accepting. It sounds horrendous, filled with agonizing silences and vicious confrontations--all the best elements of family gatherings everywhere. Sylvia's mother is apparently worse--she has given up the restaurant at least temporarily. And Rene and Jorge are not capable of hosting a Thanksgiving Dinner. Sylvia and Tom used to host the dinners over the last few years, so now Tom has picked up the slack. With Tom, I always assume there is a calculated benefit that he perceives gaining through this action. Sylvia believes that if she attends, she will be able to use it to her advantage in court, although I don't see how. In other court action, Richard apparently phoned Tom and had a heated verbal exchange. Apparently Tom was able to use that as a pretext to get a restraining order issued against Richard, keeping him away from the house during Sylvia's confinement. And Sylvia saw Hal at the office today. Far from being ready to bend to his advances, Sylvia described his touching her hand at one point as creepy and making her shudder. I hope that Hal doesn't do something precipitous with his wife over the hope that Sylvia will come around. He doesn't have a prayer with her.

Wednesday, November 27, 1996

Another fax arrived this morning. This one shows a typical nuclear family group--father, mother, son, daughter--reading a newspaper together. Except that the heads have been replaced by turkeys. All except for the son, whose head has been replaced by something that looks like it is exploding. A happy little familial sentiment just in time for Thanksgiving. I think that the faxer is the lad with the exploding head. He obviously feels somewhat alienated from his family, and I assume that he has some family function this holiday season about which this fax comments. Apparently he is going to pretend to be a happy member of the family while something is really terribly wrong inside his head. And the family is reading the newspaper. Perhaps the faxer means to imply that their attention is focused on external news while ignoring the personal issues of the family members.

9:30 am. Telephone Conversation with Hal Mainor. Hal called today. Apparently he saw Sylvia go into my building and assumed that she was coming here to see me. Of course she was, but I pointed out to Hal that she could have been coming to any one of a number of offices. I felt bad prevaricating to Hal, but I couldn't let him know whether Sylvia was a patient or not, and I told him so straight out. Hal has decided that he is going to wait until after the holidays to run off with Sylvia (or declare his intentions) out of consideration for his kids. Of course, Sylvia thinks Hal is creepy and I'm afraid that Hal is going to do something precipitous before discovering how Sylvia actually feels about him. I asked Hal to come in for a session to talk about these decisions and he agreed, but refused to make a definite appointment--his wife still doesn't know about these sessions.

10 am. Tenth Session with Phylis Birch. Phylis, who has just been a no-show for the past two scheduled sessions, just showed up wanting me to have a session with her and her husband Jack. My flight was leaving at noon, so I had barely the time, but I agreed to talk with them. Jack immediately blurted out that he blamed Phylis for Mazurka's physical assault. Phylis was taken aback and said that Jack had never blamed her in their private conversations--she referred to her surprise at having Jack say something embarrassing in front of "company." In any case, the dialogue that resulted between Phylis and Jack was clearly beneficial--obviously these issues had been brewing for some time and were just seeking a catalyst to bring them forth. Jack believed that Phylis had been having an affair with Joseph Mazurka and Phylis swore that she was not. When Jack cornered Phylis on what she was doing at the sleazy bar, Phylis tried to avoid answering the question. I strenuously encouraged her to tell Jack then and there and finally she complied. She told Jack that this gave her an outlet from the sheltered life that she normally leads, in addition to some other ideas about the dives that we've talked about in earlier sessions. I thought Jack took it quite well. He seemed to understand immediately what Phylis meant by dives and, although he didn't quite understand the fascination they held for her, he did not seem appalled. Actually, he seemed a little relieved that she had some reason other than having an affair. Like I suspected long ago, if she talked to him about these issues--really talked--I think that he would understand. I believe that she has underestimated his ability to really know her. Although Jack was a bit brusque, I liked him. He seemed caring but direct. I had the sense that even if she had an affair, he would be the type who would try to understand why she did, rather than just blowing up completely. The dialogue between the two of them was flowing freely, but I really had to catch my noon plane--so I cut it off quickly but encouraged them to continue at home. I hated to stop when they were doing so well, but the plane wasn't going to wait. In retrospect, Phylis might have brought Jack by more to show me how Jack dominates her in social interactions rather than for Jack's benefit. Although actually, I have the feeling that Phylis was giving lip service to Jack about wanting to include him in the sessions and was hoping to find me unavailable.

Thursday, November 28, 1996--Thanksgiving

Friday, November 29, 1996--Holiday

9 am. Telephone Conversation with Anna Green. Anna called me at my parent's house here in New York. It was 6 in the morning her time. Apparently she is suffering some separation anxiety due to my leaving town this weekend. She said that she wouldn't have felt so bad had she believed that I was in town, but since she knew that I was across the country she experienced severe anxiety. She said that she knew it was irrational and had tried to stop herself from calling, but she finally had to call. I told her to stay busy with her parents--she is staying with them over the long weekend--and that I'd be back soon. We're not scheduled to see each other until Thursday, but I suspect that she might want to come in earlier to convince herself that I'm really back. I didn't realize quite how dependent Anna is on me. I also believed that her romantic feelings for me had greatly subsided lately and that she was managing a successful transference back onto outside boyfriends. But apparently I was wrong. She has just been suppressing the expression of those feelings during our sessions because she is afraid that I will drop her as a patient, as I once "threatened" to do. Perhaps it isn't fair to force her to stop expressing how she feels, even if it does have to do with her sexual desire towards me. I mostly wanted her to stop because of how I felt. I could feel myself weakening in my resolve against becoming romantically involved with my patients. And I also was trying to push away the quite positive sensations which her obvious sexual interest was eliciting in me. It isn't seemly for me to be enjoying our sessions so much. But these sessions should be about how Anna feels and not about how I feel. Perhaps I am being selfish. Perhaps I should encourage Anna a bit more and allow her to be honest about her feelings towards me. I may be able to appropriately redirect those feelings towards others after they have been properly brought forth and explored. I should be willing to do this, even if I do find it somewhat pleasurable.

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.