I have had several requests, all of which intrigued me. They suggested I use the framework of my story Blue Lights, part II, where Brian was seeing Lydia Johnson, a psychiatrist. This will be a continuing series of short vignettes to show a glimpse into my view of his life, as instigated by the therapy. This first installment is a bit longer as it sets up the premise, and recaps his first two sessions before going into a new session, number 4. To find out what happened in session 3, you'll have to read my Blue Lights Part II. From this point on, I view these sessions as short glimpses into Brian's complex psyche.
Characters are property of Cowlip, Showtime, Ron and Dan, not sure, really, but no infringement intended.
Doctor's Notes: Recap, Session 1
Brian Kinney (BK), 31, W-M, self-identified homosexual. Advertising Executive. One son, aged 2, lives with mother and her same sex domestic partner in Pittsburgh. Son conceived via sperm donation.
BK was referred by a personal friend who practices psychiatry in Pittsburgh, but has never treated BK.
BK has been in New York City for approximately one year. He complains of sleep dysfunction. He has difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep once he does begin to doze. He claims erratic sleep pattern causes fatigue, loss of mental acuity, confusion, inappropriate anger and lack of energy. This condition has persisted since shortly after his arrival in NYC.
At my request, BK underwent a complete physical workup with Dr. Cohen. I wanted to ensure there were no underlying physical causes for his sleep disruption. The complete results are in the file. The following dictation is Dr. Cohen's summation:
"BK is 74 inches tall, 172 pounds, a sexually active homosexual male. He has a mesomorphic physique, strong skeletal frame and well developed muscle mass, evidencing a strict routine of aerobic exercise combined with weight training. His resting body temperature is 99 degrees, which he describes as normal for him. His resting pulse is 69, low/normal, indicating his athletic regimen. BP is 120/76, also low/normal. EKG normal, indicating maximum circulatory efficiency. EEG shows no evidence of brain function abnormalities. Blood screen shows all levels within normal range. No evidence of glucose intolerance; HIV-negative.
Urinalysis, normal. Prostate, normal, unswollen. Testicles, normal, fully descended. No evidence of STD's.
Surgical scar on left knee from repair to cartilage following a high school sports injury. No other surgeries, or scars. Small mole above third rib, right side. Normal in appearance, but suggested removal to avoid future problems.
Risk factors: Works 10-12 hours a day in high stress job. Smokes one pack of cigarettes a day. Father died of lung cancer at age 55. Admits to occasional use of alcohol and "recreational" drugs he failed to identify. No drug screen was ordered. Engages in frequent sexual encounters with other men. Claims consistent use of condoms during high risk activity and that he does not act as the submissive partner during anal intercourse.
BK is in good health, with no significant physiological conditions requiring treatment. Refused offer of prescription to help end nicotine addiction."
BK arrived on time for his first session. He was impeccably groomed, and I suspect he is obsessive about his appearance. His demeanor was calm, although he manifested behaviors that point to agitation and even cynicism. He seemed annoyed when I explained he couldn't smoke in my office. He has never undergone analysis, and he expressed a certain disbelief in its efficacy. I asked why bother coming here, and he said he was desperate to find a fix for his sleep problems. I asked what remedies he's tried. What follows is an excerpt from the transcript of our first session:
BK: Everything. Over the counter sleexp aids, prescription sleep aids, which made me too groggy, alcohol, sex, exercise, reading, television, sex, cold room, warm room, sex, new pillows, new mattress, sitting up, sex, warm baths, food, fasting. Nothing works. Not even sex.
Doctor: What is a normal night for you, Brian? Describe your sleep routine.
BK: I usually don't even try to go to sleep until after midnight, later on weekends. If I'm dressed, I take off my clothes. If I have a trick, I ask him to leave. I don't like them to stay over. I have these blue neon lights over my bed. They put out a soft, kind of soothing glow. Sometimes I leave them on, sometimes not, doesn't seem to matter either way. I toss, I turn, I get up for awhile, maybe work on my computer. I go back to bed. Same routine. Sometimes I go to sleep, but within an hour, I'm awake and can't go back to sleep. Usually around three, I'll finally crash, but then I'm up by six. Can't sleep in. It sucks.
Doctor: Do you nap during the day?
BK: (chuckles) I've been known to doze off during boring meetings. No, I don't nap.
Doctor: What do you do for recreation?
BK: I work out. I go to clubs. I fuck.
Doctor: What kind of clubs? Health clubs?
BK: Well, Doc, they do promote a certain good and healthy feeling. Gay clubs.
Doctor: And what do you do there? Meet up with friends?
BK: I only have acquaintances in New York. My friends are back in Pittsburgh. I go there to kick back. I like to dance, but the main reason is to cruise.
Doctor: To pick up men?
BK: For sex, yes. I'm not looking for Mr. Goodbar.
Doctor: Is that where you meet your sexual partners?
BK: That's one place. I also meet them in baths, at parties, in straight bars, working behind the counter at Bloomie's, in ad campaigns, at the gym, on airplanes, walking down the street, delivering pizza, in theaters, men are everywhere.
Doctor: And you have no trouble attracting them, right?
BK: I've always been able to pull the best tricks.
Doctor: Why do you think that is so, Brian?
BK: (clears throat, laughs uncomfortably) My Irish charm, I guess.
Doctor: Your looks?
BK: I guess so.
Doctor: Are you uncomfortable about your looks?
BK: No. I work hard to look good.
Doctor: Do you worry about aging and losing your looks?
BK: I hope by then to be so rich, it doesn't fucking matter. I can pay for what I want. I don't see myself getting old.
Doctor: What's the alternative?
Doctor: You think you'll die young?
BK: I always thought that, but I guess I'd better hurry or it will be too late. No one ever says "live fast, die middle aged and leave a well preserved corpse."
Doctor: Do you have thoughts of suicide, Brian?
BK: I saw a play last week that made me want to slit my wrists. Couldn't wait for it to end.
Doctor: We'll make much better progress if you leave your sarcasm at the door. Answer my question.
(Long pause.) BK: Sometimes.
Doctor: When was the last time?
BK: An hour ago? I don't know. It's not a constant, Hamlet kind of thing. Sometimes I just wonder if it's really worth it, and who would really care?
Doctor: Have you ever attempted suicide?
BK: Not seriously.
Doctor: Tell me the un-serious attempts.
BK: When I was thirteen, I downed a bottle of aspirin.
Doctor: What happened?
BK: I hurled them up before they could do any damage.
Doctor: Why did you do that, Brian?
BK: I had a weird home life.
Doctor: Tell me about that.
BK: What's the point? It was years ago. How does this hit on why I can't sleep?
Doctor: We won't know that until we explore it. Were your parents divorced?
BK: Unfortunately, no. They stayed together in hell until death allowed my old man to finally escape.
Doctor: Why hell?
BK: They hated each other. He was drunk and abusive. She was cold and mean.
Doctor: Was he physically abusive?
BK: He could be. If he was drunk enough. I got the back of his hand more than once. So did she.
Doctor: You have an older sister, right? What about her? Were you close?
BK: Never. Clare was an hysteric. She made me crazy with her drama queen antics. The old man left her alone. She was always in screaming fights with my mother.
Doctor: Did your mother try to protect you from your father?
BK: (Silent, then coughs) Not too long ago, she told me she did. I guess I never saw that as a kid.
Doctor: Where did you go for shelter?
BK: Mainly to my best friend's house, Mikey. I spent more time at Mikey's than I did at home.
Doctor: What kind of home did Mikey have?
BK: Quirky. They had a lot less money than us, and we were barely middle class. His mom is a Vietnam widow, or so she said, and she worked long hours to hold things together. His uncle is an AIDS patient, and came to live with them when he got really sick. It wasn't a fancy house, or even a peaceful house, but the love was there, and I felt safe.
Doctor: Are you still close to Mikey?
BK: He's still my best friend.
Doctor: Does he know you're gay?
BK: He's gay too, and no, we're not lovers.
Doctor: What happened when you were thirteen to cause you to want to die?
BK: I don't want to go into that now.
Doctor: Why not?
BK: Ancient history. I just don't want to, okay?
Doctor: Okay, Brian.
End of excerpt from transcript.
My preliminary view is that BK is depressed, possibly suicidal, with his depression rooted in denial of events not yet revealed. He exhibits classic indicia of low self esteem masked by superficial arrogance. He resents any sign of weakness in his empiric view of himself, and he places high value on his sexual attractiveness as a validating factor. I prescribed low dosage anti-depressants, which he resisted taking, but finally relented. I intend to see him weekly at this stage of his therapy.
Doctor's Notes: Recap, Session 2
I wondered if BK may not return for a second session, but he was on time, again. He seemed very agitated and looked drawn and tired. He claimed to be working on an ad campaign that was sapping all his energy. He complained that the anti-depressants did not help him sleep. I explained they weren't specifically intended for that purpose. However, once the drug was present in his bloodstream in sufficient quantities, he may be better able to sleep, as his emotions would be more predictable.
He was silent and quietly hostile, refusing to make eye contact. I asked him if he had taken any drugs today and he glared at me as he responded: "Two Advil. Is that okay with you, Doc?"
I asked why Advil, he said he had a headache.
Doctor: You ready to talk about that episode when you were thirteen?
Doctor: Does your friend, Mikey, know about it?
BK: Not about the aspirin, no.
Doctor: Let's talk about sex, Brian.
BK: (laughs) How much time do we have?
Doctor: When did you first suspect you were gay?
BK: I've always known it.
Doctor: How did you know it?
BK: Even as a kid, the guys in movies and on television interested me a lot more than the women, and not just for their heroic deeds. In real life, I got crushes on older boys at school, when I was little. As a young teenager, girls were all over me, and the other boys envied me, but I found their attention boring. I think it was that aloofness that made them interested.
Doctor: At what age did you become sexually active?
BK: I used to play with myself long before I could do anything about the feelings it generated. When the hormones kicked in, I turned into a masturbation machine.
Doctor: Who inspired your masturbatory fantasies?
BK: At that age, a turnip could be inspirational. Guys on television, in magazines, bodybuilding magazines and trading cards were a turn on, pro athletes, I didn't know about gay porn until much later. The internet wasn't as developed as it is now, and we didn't even have a home computer. Patrick Swayze was a favorite.
Doctor: What about people in your everyday life?
BK: Yeah, a couple of the guys at school and the coach.
Doctor: When was your first sexual encounter with someone else?
BK: When I was fourteen, I seduced the coach. He was taking a shower. I joined him.
Doctor: Did that continue?
BK: He was married. It was complicated. We did it a couple more times, then he moved, took a job as assistant coach at a university in Kansas.
Doctor: Were you in love with him?
BK: Shit no. He was hot. It was just sex.
Doctor: How far did it go?
(Long pause) BK: He busted my cherry.
Doctor: Does that mean anal intercourse?
BK: Yeah. The last time we were together, he fucked me.
Doctor: How do you feel about that event, Brian? How did you feel then and how do you feel about it now?
BK: It was hot. It still is.
BK: Physically, it hurts the first time some man rams his hard cock up your ass, yeah. But you play through the pain. It gets better.
Doctor: Is that your preferred method of sexual release? Anal intercourse?
BK: It's all good, Doc. But I'm a top, have been for years. I inflict the pain, not receive it. (Hestiates) B-but that's not my goal. I give them pleasure. I'm not a pain freak. It's just that the simple act of doing it is somewhat painful.
Doctor: Did your family ever know about this relationship with your coach?
BK: Shit no! My old man would have busted his balls, and my mother would have sent me away to some fucking Seminary!
Doctor: When did you come out to your family?
BK: I told my dad shortly before he died. I told my mom after that. My sister's known for awhile.
Doctor: How did they take it?
BK: They didn't rent the Goodyear blimp to advertise their happiness to the world.
Doctor: How did that make you feel?
BK: Validated. If my parents don't like something, that something has to be good. It's a universal law.
Doctor: Is Mikey your only gay friend?
BK: All my friends are gay.
Doctor: Why is that?
Bk: I don't trust straights. There are only two kinds of straights. Those who hate you to your face and those who hate you behind your back.
Doctor: Have you been a victim of any hate crimes, Brian?
Doctor's note: At this point in the session, BK grew tense. His eyes closed. He looked pale, as if he might be ill. He withdrew. His voice cracked with emotion when he finally spoke.
BK: Next question.
Doctor: Brian, answering hard questions is how we get to the core of your problems.
BK: (hostile) What the fuck does any of this have to do with my inability to sleep?
Doctor: We won't know that until we explore it.
BK: I can't do this right now. I can't talk about that...that incident.
Doctor: Alright, Brian, we can defer it along with the aspirin incident, but not indefinitely. These are the issues we need to address.
BL: Maybe later.
Doctor: Not much later, Brian.
BK: I understand.
End of transcript excerpt.
Doctor's notes: BK's extreme reaction to an inquiry about a hate crime suggests he was either the victim of or the perpetrator of such an event. His abuse at the hands of a sometimes violent father and a cold, dismissive mother is a classic root cause for feelings of inferiority and unworthiness to be loved. His superficial arrogance and promiscuous sexuality are common signs of acting out to conceal and deny self esteem deficiencies. He finds validation through attracting sexual partners, and yet the emptiness of such encounters confirms his self image as an unworthy love interest. BK has spent years building these protective walls and now some undisclosed event or events have begun to weaken the foundation of those walls, and he is experiencing fear and anxiety as he sees himself becoming defenseless and vulnerable, like a child again. It is imperative that we reach past his denial and explore the causes of these longstanding emotions.
|Disclaimer: The television show Queer As Folk and its characters are the property of Showtime and CowLip Productions. No money is being made. Stories and discussion are intended purely for the entertainment of fans of Queer as Folk, the Brian and Justin characters, and Randall's writings.
Contact Site Admin with questions or technical problems.
July 25, 2004