Charles Balis' Journal for the Week ending 12/20/96

Saturday, December 14, 1996

Sunday, December 15, 1996

Monday, December 16, 1996

2 pm. Eleventh Session with Sarah Wright. Although Christmas is her favorite time of year, Sarah said that she is having trouble getting into the spirit this year. Sarah started reminiscing about Christmas. As a young girl, she would spend Christmas with her grandparents in a beautifully decorated house. She still remembers the tree and the presents and how it felt to be safe and loved. Both grandparents died when she was seventeen. But Sarah and her mother believe that Melissa is her grandmother reincarnated. Sarah's reincarnation beliefs are apparently shared and fostered by her mother and the rest of her family. Sarah wanted to switch the subject because she said there was no way that I was going to understand, which is probably true. While previously she was unsure about the decision to leave work, as her last day approaches, she is feeling better about the decision. It's only a couple of weeks away and they haven't hired someone else for the job, so she has a limited amount of time to train a replacement. As a financial matter, Sarah is now more comfortable. Jeff has acceded to her demands and now transfers a sum of money each month to her private account to compensate her for giving up her job to care for his lover. Sarah is talking about using the money to travel with her mother. Sarah did get a call from Glen, her best friend's husband. She has decided to meet him clandestinely in the week after Christmas and refused to discuss this decision with me further. Sarah wants to skip her next session so we scheduled for December 30th.

Tuesday, December 17, 1996

4 pm. Twenty-third session with Sylvia Bows. I went to Sylvia's house for this session. Tom wasn't there and Sylvia had herself installed into bed rest central--with the exception of a bathroom, all her wants can be satisfied within reach. Apparently SII has set her up with a networked computer and telephone to keep her involved with the company while on bed rest. Tom completely surprised Sylvia by taking her off by limo on an unexpected shopping trip for baby equipment. While Sylvia sat in a rocking chair, Tom arranged for a parade of equipment to be paraded past her for her inspection. Apparently they bought a lot. Afterwards, Tom took Sylvia to lunch. When they got back home, Sylvia found a new four wheel drive family vehicle in the garage with a giant ribbon around it and the license plate "TWINS". Sylvia was astonished at Tom's consideration and, more than that, she felt that he helped give the twins a certain reality as human beings in her mind. Sylvia felt that previously she had a selfish attitude towards the twins--worrying just about the pregnancy and how she was affected. After imagining how it would feel to bathe the babies in the little tubs that she just bought, Sylvia now feels that, mentally, she has made the twins solidify into individuals. What I found particularly interesting was Sylvia's unconscious use of the pronoun "we" when referring to the shopping trip. She sounded more like she was talking about her expectant husband than a hated litigant. I'd say Sylvia is softening somewhat in her position against Tom.

Wednesday, December 18, 1996

A new fax arrived this morning. Compared to the previous images, this one is positively a vision of sanity and brims with happiness. The image is composed of a businessman walking briskly away from an airplane with a suitcase in his right hand. The man is wearing a well-tailored light business suit and he's sporting a gigantic white ping-pong ball head with eyes and mouth. He looks a little like the Jack in the Box advertising mascot character. This is the ultimate in putting on a happy face. So what brought this change over my anonymous patient? Is it the holiday spirit? Is he trying to tell me that he is taking a trip? Is he flying somewhere for the holidays? If so, why is he wearing a suit instead of a Hawaiian shirt or some other vacation clothes? I would guess this is a business trip and he is forcing himself to pretend that he is something he is not for the benefit of his business associates. Or perhaps this is the trip leading to the big change--is he using the holidays as an opportunity to begin the process of a sex change operation? Is there a whole new identity in that suitcase? Too many questions and too few answers. I wonder how much longer this will remain a mystery. I also wonder if he will send me a fax next week. That would be Christmas day, and I assume that SII would be deserted. There probably will be a check in with security that day. If he sends me a fax, I could check with the security office and find a list of who had access to the building during the day. If my supposition that he is an employee of SII is correct, I might then be able to put a real face on the anonymous faxer.

Joseph Mazurka is dead. Completely by accident, I was going through the paper and there, on an inside page, was a small article about a San Francisco man who was shot to death and found in a dumpster. It was Joseph. Such a dismal end, to be unceremoniously dumped in the trash and then to evoke only a slight mention in the press. Inconsequential I know, but that's what I thought about first. The reality though is that I totally failed Joseph. He came to me for help and, although he was a difficult patient to be sure, I ended up unable to give it to him. Under my care, he became dependent on illegal drugs, lost his family and his home, went into debt, became paranoid and finally turned to crime. Quite a track record. I always knew that I might lose a patient someday. I expected it to be a suicide, I guess. But here is the reality. Joseph is dead and no matter what I do now I can't change that. Was it the Irishman that he warned me about? The FBI agent was right. Joseph was the link between the gang and the FBI. If the FBI had captured Joseph, and they were sure to eventually, Joseph would have rolled over on the group. They knew it, but I don't think Joseph ever did figure out how much more valuable he was to them dead. I think I even told him that was a possibility, but my words meant nothing to Joseph then. Do I have to worry too? Is there a possibility that I'm in danger because of a fear of what Joseph might have told me? Is this unfounded paranoia? I guess I hope that my next patient isn't an Irishman with a penchant for firearms. Gallows humor. Joseph was a son-of-a-bitch, that's for sure. I'm not going to try to ennoble him because he was murdered. He was a very scary guy and seemed actually capable of causing some very real harm to a lot of people. I can't forget that. I was half expecting Joseph to be the crazed gunman in some horrible repeat of the 101 California shootings. I think Joseph saw himself like that too sometimes. But I think some part of Joseph wanted to avoid that fate. I adopted a fairly harsh tone with Joseph, especially towards some of the later sessions. I really believed that it was the best way to get through to him--he never seemed offended and actually seemed to respect me more when I wouldn't put up with his shit. But perhaps I was wrong. Maybe I should have been more nurturing. Who am I kidding? Nurturing? I should have had him committed. While he was abusing amphetamines and was going through his psychotic episodes, he was clearly committable. If I'm honest with myself, I know that I would have committed him, but I was scared of what he would do when he got out. That was it. I was scared for my personal safety. And now he is dead. It's true that he's not dead directly because of his mental aberrations--he did knowingly decide to join a criminal endeavor with a group of people whom he knew were killers--but I might have been able to save him if I had had more personal courage. The fact that he kept coming to me was a clue that he knew that he needed the help, however much he protested to the contrary. And the truth is that I just didn't or couldn't help him. Maybe another psychiatrist could have. Maybe I do have to accept some sort of ultimate blame for the path that Joseph took. I failed him because I had given up trying to save him. It's late and I'm exhausted. Joseph's been murdered. That has to become part of my new reality somehow.

Thursday, December 19, 1996

4 pm. Twenty-fourth session with Anna Green. I was very strict with Anna and tried to persuade her how outrageous her conduct was during our last session and to prevail upon her not to try such a stunt again. I think she understood, but she waxed poetic about how much she enjoyed standing naked in front of me and how important it was to her as a sexual thrill. I pointed out to her that what she was really describing was a thrill properly ascribed to latent exhibitionist tendencies--the thrill of possible discovery. She was appalled at the notion that the sexual sensation she experienced might not be as a result of her true love for me. I left her to think about that over the holidays. I also brought up the incident about her alleged skinny dipping in the lake at night. After my conversation with Caren, it was apparent that the incident never happened, but I used it as an example of her exhibitionism in any case. I was interested in how Anna would react--whether she would now disavow the incident. But instead she seemingly has incorporated it--she doesn't know what I know as a falsehood and what I don't know. She became slightly guarded and refused to meaningfully compare that incident to the one in my office, only saying that they were different. I have to say that I'm worried about the turn our sessions have taken over the last couple of weeks--first Anna revealed an almost pathological dependency on me--freaking out when I left San Francisco over Thanksgiving weekend. And then the stripping incident. How effective am I actually being with Anna. Having lost Joseph Mazurka, I'm especially concerned about my competence, I guess. I need to enable Anna to turn her attentions away from me and towards a more appropriate external relationship. So far, Anna's relationships are not the mature, stable, and emotionally healthy ones that I would wish for her.

Friday, December 20, 1996

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