Transcript of 1st Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Hal Mainor, Monday, July 15, 1996 at 10 am.

Dr. Balis: Welcome, please come in and take a seat.
Mr. Mainor: Hi. I'm Hal Mainor.
Dr. Balis: I'm Dr. Balis. Please sit down.
Mr. Mainor: Do you want me to lie down on the couch or something?
Dr. Balis: Do you want to lie down on the couch?
Mr. Mainor: I've never done this before. I guess I don't know what to expect.
Dr. Balis: Well, some patients are more comfortable lying down on the couch. Some like to sit in a chair. It's really up to you, where you'd feel the most comfortable.
Mr. Mainor: Well, let me just sit here then.
Dr. Balis: Fine. How would you like to begin?
Mr. Mainor: I thought you'd do that.
Dr. Balis: I can if you like.
Mr. Mainor: Well, what do you have in mind?
Dr. Balis: Why don't we start with the reason that you've come to see me.
Mr. Mainor: I've been having problems concentrating. I just find myself thinking about all sorts of other things than what I'm supposed to be working on.
Dr. Balis: What kind of things?
Mr. Mainor: Actually, could I ask you some questions, first?
Dr. Balis: Sure, what would you like to know?
Mr. Mainor: Does what I say here get back to my boss at Silicon Impressions? Do you work for me or for the company?
Dr. Balis: I work for you. Have you ever heard of doctor/patient privilege?
Mr. Mainor: Yeah, I've heard of it.
Dr. Balis: Well, it means that I can't divulge any of what I learn here to someone else. Let me get real extreme, okay? Let's say that you tell me you murdered someone. Just as an example. I couldn't even tell the police. Do you understand? I certainly can't tell your boss about what we talk about in here. This office is sacred. What happens here is just between the two of us.
Mr. Mainor: Okay. I guess that's okay.
Dr. Balis: Silicon Impressions uses me because I'm part of the HMO that's on SII's medical plan. That's it. Not because I work for the company. Do you understand?
Mr. Mainor: Yeah, I got it.
Dr. Balis: Is there anything else?
Mr. Mainor: Yeah, well, I hope you won't be offended, but you're kind of young for this aren't you?
Dr. Balis: I'm 32 years old.
Mr. Mainor: I'm 36. So you're younger than me.
Dr. Balis: Is that a problem?
Mr. Mainor: Well, I don't want to offend you, Doc. But I'm not looking for some pills here. I figure I need to talk to someone with some life experience. Maybe someone who knows what its like to bust their hump and go home to a wife who doesn't give a shit, you know?
Dr. Balis: Mr. Mainor. I can assure you that I'm a fully trained psychiatrist, perfectly able to give you the benefit of a life riddled with life experience. But my job is to help you figure out things for yourself, rather than trying to supply the answers. Psychiatry is a journey, Mr. Mainor. Neither of us know the answers at the start. At the end of the journey, hopefully we'll both be wiser.
Mr. Mainor: I didn't mean to give offense, Doc.
Dr. Balis: No certainly not. Why don't you tell me about your wife?
Mr. Mainor: Oh, Jesus. Well, let's start there. Margaret is her name. We've been married since just after I graduated high school. That was 1979, 1980. Margaret's about 2 years older than me, but I got out the same year she did on a GED. Shit, I didn't care about a high school degree. Life was simple for me, you know? I was going to be a writer. We loved each other and were broke as hell. Salad days, don't they call it? Margaret was like a different girl back then. I wrote adventure stuff and westerns. She loved them. She was going to be a lawyer, was going to San Francisco State, taking classes and babysitting at night to earn some cash. I think it was the babysitting stuff that started it, but maybe every woman gets her hormones triggered. Margaret loved those kids, they were about 2 when she started. And she decided that she just had to have some, you know? Well, I didn't want to--we didn't have any money and I didn't want to have to try to get a real job, you know?
Dr. Balis: Please go on.
Mr. Mainor: Yeah, well. A real job. I was just getting published a little--wasn't making any money really, maybe a couple of thousand a year. But I was getting published. A short story or two, and I was working up to maybe a paperback. But this baby thing just derailed me. She got pregnant of course and I guess I had to grow up in a hurry. I got a job writing technical manuals--you know, put this disk in the slot and press the button type of writing. The computer industry was just starting in San Francisco, so I got work at Hercules before moving on to Silicon Impressions about 9 years ago. And that's the story ever since. Put the disk in the slot and press the "on" button.
Dr. Balis: How many children do you have?
Mr. Mainor: I've got two, a boy Glen who's 14 and a girl Lindy who's 11. They're great kids--it's not that. I've just been thinking of what might have been, that's all. Sounds kind of puerile when I put it into words like this.
Dr. Balis: And your wife? What is she doing now?
Mr. Mainor: Oh, she's off chasing ambulances, just the way she always wanted. I think she's happy the way everything turned out. She got everything she wanted.
Dr. Balis: Do you resent her for that?
Mr. Mainor: Is that what it sounds like? No, she's worked hard, with the kids and with her job. It's not that--I just feel like it has all passed me by.
Dr. Balis: Have you tried writing on your off hours?
Mr. Mainor: I've tried, but it just isn't there anymore. All the juice gets sucked out of you when you write manuals. I find my characters explaining everything in excruciating detail. And everything is so linear. First this happens, and then this happens, and then I've got to look for this. It just doesn't happen anymore. Instead of roughened western heroes, I've got helpful western nerds.
Dr. Balis: So why can't you concentrate?
Mr. Mainor: I guess I've been feeling sorry for myself, huh? The dream slipping away, it's a common story. But mine is more than that. I'm starting to feel sort of choked up. I don't know how to explain it. Kind of like I'm drowning or something. I feel I can't breath deeply enough or something. That's not really it. There's nothing physically wrong, it's just like I'm drowning a little bit all the time. It's like I have to do something. It's too dramatic when I'm explaining it. I don't feel like this very strongly or all the time. Just a little.
Dr. Balis: I understand. Our time is up for now, though. Perhaps you'll come back again next week and we can explore this further?
Mr. Mainor: We're just going to talk about it?
Dr. Balis: Well, it has taken a long time for the problems that you are describing to develop. It seems appropriate to take a little time in trying to figure out what those problems are, don't you think?
Mr. Mainor: I'm just not interested in spending fifteen years in therapy.
Dr. Balis: I only do psychoanalysis for a small number of my patients. But I do need to understand your life in a little more detail before I can make any effective recommendations.
Mr. Mainor: How long do you think it will take?
Dr. Balis: Why don't we plan on meeting four times and then we can evaluate where we are at that time.
Mr. Mainor: Well, I wasn't sure I wanted to make that kind of commitment. But I guess I can live with four sessions.
Dr. Balis: I'd also like you to do some homework between sessions. I want you to keep a journal--just a diary of how you are feeling, what you are thinking about, when you feel like you are drowning, your dreams, anything that you think is important. I'd also like to see some of your doodles. I noticed on your notebook that you've filled it with doodles. Save them and write down what you were doing when you did them. Try not to be self conscious about them, just save them for me. I think they could be helpful.
Mr. Mainor: My doodles, okay. What the hell. Are you going to read the journal?
Dr. Balis: Only if you want to show it to me. So next Monday at 10, okay?
Mr. Mainor: I'll be here. Thanks, Doctor.
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Button to Dr. Balis' Notes Doctor Balis' Notes on this Session

Button to Hal Mainor's Transcripts Transcripts of Hal Mainor's Therapy Sessions
Button to Other Patients' Files Hal Mainor's Patient File

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