Transcript of 15th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Anna Green, Thursday, October 10th, 1996 at 4 pm.

Ms. Green: Hello Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Hello Anna. You're not looking well. Are you all right?
Ms. Green: I guess so.
Dr. Balis: Sounds like there is something wrong.
Ms. Green: I've just been feeling really tired. I feel like my body is moving through water but on some giant planet with super gravity. Every movement requires so much effort.
Dr. Balis: Do you think you have a cold or flu or something?
Ms. Green: No I don't have a fever or any other symptoms other than this enormous inertia. I have to will myself to do things like get up from a chair to go to the bathroom. I might have to go pee, but it feels like it would take so much effort that I wait until I can't hold it in anymore.
Dr. Balis: Why do you think you feel this way?
Ms. Green: When I left your office last Thursday life just seemed's like what's the point? It's clear that I cannot even maintain a relationship with a psychiatrist. I just felt so drained. Emotionally exhausted.
Dr. Balis: I didn't realize that you left so dispirited. I thought we agreed to continue our sessions and that...
Ms. Green: You just felt sorry for me because I started to cry. I know you would have been happier transferring me to someone else's care. Don't lie to me Doctor.
Dr. Balis: I never lie to you, Anna. I would honestly hate to lose you as a patient. I just felt that I wasn't able to help you anymore.
Ms. Green: That's what I mean--when your own therapist gives up on you who else is left? No wonder all my relationships with men turn out the way they do. I'm hopeless.
Dr. Balis: You were the one to leave David. You had the power in that relationship. So things are changing. You are beginning to take control.
Ms. Green: If I hadn't dumped David, he would have tossed me out in no time. I knew that, so I decided to do it first. That's not taking control. That's just seeing the reality of the situation.
Dr. Balis: But that's a start too. To be able to judge a relationship as unworkable for you is an important step in learning to develop positive relationships.
Ms. Green: Nobody wants me anyway. You don't.
Dr. Balis: But I'm your therapist. I have no right to want you.
Ms. Green: You mean if you weren't my therapist you would consider going out with me?
Dr. Balis: I'm your therapist. I will always have been your therapist long after the date when you decide to discontinue our sessions. Once I've been someone's therapist, if only for an hour, I'm not permitted to enter into a physical relationship with that person.
Ms. Green: You see, you were getting to know me more intimately than any other man on Earth ever could. Or a woman for that matter. And yet you could never be close to me. And while you might have ethical reasons that prevent you from thinking about me, I have nothing. I just have my heart. And I think of you. And I want you. And I'm not sure I want to stop. Even if you can never feel the same about me.
Dr. Balis: We're not talking about how I feel. We're talking about the ethical limits which have been placed on me by my profession. A patient opens themselves up to their therapist in a way that makes it inappropriate for the psychiatrist to become physically involved with their patient. And this is why I thought it might be better for you to seek another therapist. I didn't want you to be having unrealistic expectations about our relationship. I'm your therapist. Since you've identified relationships as your problem, it's my job to help you understand yourself better and form attachments with others that are healthy and productive. Wishing for a relationship with me is not a very healthy choice. It's what we call transference. Mature real love can only grow and blossom when it is reciprocated. What you feel is not love. It's just transference.
Ms. Green: How do you know Doctor? Maybe it is real love. Neither medicine nor any other science has ever claimed to know or understand what love is. So how can you know what I feel for you?
Dr. Balis: You're right. I cannot claim to know what love is or how it works. But I can reason from my past experience and education and from my insight into your psyche gained through our sessions together. It is a very natural reaction for a patient to develop strong feelings for the person who is giving them care and understanding--their Doctor. I'm sure you have heard of the stories of people with injuries or illnesses that took a long time to recover because they fell into what they thought was love with their nurses or doctors. But eventually these people get better and return to their real lives. The feeling of gratitude for their care givers remained but that feeling of love that they felt at the time of their illness--the time when they were so emotionally and physically vulnerable--went away.
Ms. Green: Are you saying that I will find someone else and will leave you?
Dr. Balis: You will. You'll turn what you feel towards me towards someone else. You'll tell me about a wonderful person that you've met and how happy you are. You'll see. I'll be left behind.
Ms. Green: You are almost making me feel sorry for you, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Like any doctor, my main job is to make sure that my patients get well enough never to have to see me.
Ms. Green: So that's why you never form any attachments?
Dr. Balis: No. I care deeply for my patients and form very close attachments to them. You and I are going to be very close friends, Anna. I just have to have a certain reserve. I always have to make sure that I'm behaving within professional guidelines.
Ms. Green: I guess people who see therapists are very vulnerable and they would be easy to take advantage off.
Dr. Balis: That's right. And that's why there are strict rules on therapist and what constitutes appropriate behavior towards a patient.
Ms. Green: But how do you feel about me? I mean, assume for a moment that I wasn't your patient. Would I have a shot?
Dr. Balis: Anna, I know I shouldn't answer that. And I never want to talk about this again, okay? But I can see that it's important to you and I'll be honest with you. Let me just say that you'd have a lot better than a shot.
Ms. Green: Oh Doctor. So you're basically saying that you do like me with all my bizarre problems and shortcomings but you can't act on your feelings in any capacity other then that of a therapist.
Dr. Balis: That's basically correct.
Ms. Green: You've made me feel a bit better, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: I'm glad. How was the rest of your week?
Ms. Green: I had an unpleasant situation at work last Friday.
Dr. Balis: Do you want to talk about it?
Ms. Green: Well as I said, I left your office very depressed last week. So when I heard that my department was going to do one of those evening dinner and movie parties, I decided to stay and try to have fun.
Dr. Balis: Was it a horror night or a porno night?
Ms. Green: It was a porno night, although I didn't end up staying for the movie. I sort of felt like I was ridiculed out of their little party.
Dr. Balis: What do you mean?
Ms. Green: We had pizza as usual but afterwards, instead of getting to the movie right away, David pulled out a joint and don't really disapprove of this sort of thing, do you Doctor?
Dr. Balis: Getting stoned in general or getting stoned in the office?
Ms. Green: I guess getting stoned in the office sounds bad. Okay, getting stoned outside the office?
Dr. Balis: I don't believe taking illegal drugs is good idea.
Ms. Green: Have you ever done it?
Dr. Balis: That's not relevant, I still don't think it's a good idea.
Ms. Green: You have, haven't you Doctor?
Dr. Balis: So you got high with your boss in one of the SII's conference rooms, I presume?
Ms. Green: Good change of subject. And to answer you, yes. Yes I did. We all did, including Julian. And then we started to talk about sex. Mostly people were talking about what they really would like from their dates and stuff like that.
Dr. Balis: Did you feel comfortable discussing these topics with David in the room?
Ms. Green: We sort of have a truce and frankly I don't care what he thinks about me. If he's wistfully reminiscing about our last close encounter, it would only make me feel good. I don't mind if he wants me. As long as he doesn't bother me about it, let him pant over me.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Green: Well at some point in the evening, it became my turn to share, so to speak. So I told everybody about a fantasy that I had a few night before. I mean, it wasn't a big deal. It wasn't very explicit although it was clearly sexual. I was really getting into the story, when I noticed that everyone was looking funny at me. It made me really uncomfortable and I stopped. And as soon as I stopped everyone just started to tell me that I was really weird and strange and...I just got so embarrassed that I just wanted to disappear. They were all so cruel. I told them something really personal and they acted like a bunch of stupid little boys. So I just got up and left. It made me feel like I could never find anyone to share my soul with if all men were like that. And I thought of you and I got even more depressed. Then I just basically ended up the whole weekend in bed watching bad movies on TV. I didn't even have the energy to go and rent a decent movie down the street. And then it was just horrible facing everybody on Monday morning.
Dr. Balis: Why do you think they reacted the way they did?
Ms. Green: Either they're a bunch of jerks or I'm just too fucked up to be among humans.
Dr. Balis: Would you like to tell me the fantasy you were trying to share with them?
Ms. Green: I already got one bad reaction.
Dr. Balis: If you would rather not...
Ms. Green: No, no. I'll tell you if you wish. But you can't jump down my throat for trying to seduce you again. Okay?
Dr. Balis: That's not what happened last time, Anna.
Ms. Green: Whatever. Basically I had this very erotic dream. I mean it was erotic to me. I was very turned on by it and was disappointed to wake up.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Green: I was watching this cartoon. It was about a really goofy dog but it wasn't Goofy. It wasn't Disney at all; it was some other studio. In any case, this dog was tall and a little clumsy and very compassionate. Lovable really.
Dr. Balis: Your erotic dream was about a cartoon dog?
Ms. Green: You see! You're just like them.
Dr. Balis: No, no, I'm just trying to follow your dream. Please go on Anna.
Ms. Green: Okay. So I'm watching this cartoon and enjoying it and then somehow I meet the animator--the person who created this dog character. And he is just like him--sort of tall but a little hunched over, very shy, has these very long arms with gigantic hands. His hair is dark and curly, just like this dog. And he has a look on his face that is really hard to describe. It's like a combination of compassion and understanding and intelligence. And his eyes are big and dark and they were looking at me with such a feeling was just making me feel good all over. And I was so happy to meet him. I told him that I loved his work and his characters. And he seemed so genuinely pleased by that. He showed me his office and then showed me the models of this dog that he was sewing out of fake fur material. They were very charming and lovable just like the cartoon versions. I was so very impressed by his work. But then he told me that he needed to go and perform. He put on this dog outfit and just became this dog character that I liked so much.
Dr. Balis: So the dream was actually about this animator?
Ms. Green: Yes and no. They seemed to be the same entity almost. It's hard to explain. Somehow we both ended up in group therapy. We were sitting in a circle with a couple of other people. Bill was there too and we were still going out for some reason. I was sitting next to the dog.
Dr. Balis: So the animator was still in costume?
Ms. Green: Sort of. He was the therapist and was leading the discussion. We were sitting around a round table. Someone was talking, describing some sort of problem they were experiencing. I put my hand on the dog's thigh. I felt a thrill going through my entire body. And I knew that he felt it too. I couldn't hear what people were saying anymore. I was also afraid that Bill would notice something. The dog also had to lead the discussion but I felt that he couldn't keep his attention on what was going on either. We found an excuse to break up the meeting for awhile and the dog and I ended up on a flight of stairs alone. He was towering over me and bending down to get really close to my face. And then we kissed. It was so passionate and so innocent. It was as if he loved me forever--even before we ever met. I was feeling guilty and confused. But mostly it was this feeling of happiness to be with him. I woke up desperately wanting to make love to him.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Green: It's okay. Now you can tell me how screwed up I am.
Dr. Balis: I don't think you're screwed up.
Ms. Green: I just dream about making love to animated dogs.
Dr. Balis: Sounds like it was more a dream about meeting someone with characteristics that you find appealing.
Ms. Green: Like the dog being a therapist, for example?
Dr. Balis: That's not what I meant.
Ms. Green: In any case, the dream was not well-received by the friends in my department.
Dr. Balis: You told them the whole thing?
Ms. Green: Yes. I was telling them about my fantasy the way they were telling me about theirs. It was my turn.
Dr. Balis: Were the fantasies they were telling as metaphorical as yours?
Ms. Green: They were a lot more graphic.
Dr. Balis: I thought so. I think they were just not expecting anything so personal. Maybe they got embarrassed and just made fun of you to cover up their own discomfort.
Ms. Green: Or maybe they just behaved like assholes.
Dr. Balis: That too. I don't think there is anything wrong with your dream, Anna.
Ms. Green: Thank you Doctor.
Dr. Balis: You know our time is up?
Ms. Green: Yeah.
Dr. Balis: Next time if you feel this bad after leaving our sessions or for any other reason, please call me. I'm here to help really.
Ms. Green: Okay.
Dr. Balis: Okay. I'll see you next Thursday at 4 pm. That's October 17th.
Ms. Green: Thank you Doctor. Goodbye.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye Anna. Try to feel better.
Ms. Green: I'll try.
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