Jonathan Harnisch has proclaimed himself the King of Mental Illness. A schizophrenic with Tourette's, he often feels like a twisted character treading in an otherwise ordinary world. It comes as both a shock and a familiar feeling, then, when he discovers that a friend and fellow author has written him into her book. Seeking to displace the perhaps one-dimensional image created of him, Harnisch sets out to write his own account of the characters that have ruled his life—bare, raw, and endlessly revealing. Glad You're Not Me is a rarely seen, shocking account of living with schizophrenia. Written in chaotic vignettes that resonate to the same frequency as William Burrough's Naked Lunch, the pages leap from bitter honesty to barbed defenses to deeply disturbing pornographic fantasy. Harnisch's disturbed, arrogant, and brutally authentic voice is unapologetic in its obscenities and dangerous desires, for mental illness comes with no filter—it is dark, it is troubling, it leads its audience into confusing places. To censor the words within this book would strip it of its integrity, for the reader must see, however horrible, the truth of illnesses of the mind.
Author Jonathan Harnisch often writes about alter egos who live with the same mental disorders that he does, including schizophrenia and Tourette's syndrome. The protagonist of this coming- of-age novel is Georgie Gust, a character who has appeared in the author's previous novels as a sexual fetishist and even another character's alter ego. For readers who may have explored other Harnisch novels, it's best to think of Georgie as the blank canvas on which the author hangs his tales and not try to unify Georgie's mythology. Here, Georgie appears as an angry young man in the mold of Salinger's Holden Caulfield. He's been banished by his alcoholic mother to a boarding school in Connecticut and we meet him during a suicidal episode in a graveyard. Georgie experiences his mental illness as a literal monkey on his back; he is also dangerously self-medicating. The prose is as electrifying as it is terrifying. "Out of the wild jungle one day, rejoining me in full costume, the horn-headed monkey returns to its residence in me," Georgie says. "This time, it was going to try and kill me, the son- of-a-bitch." The majority of the novel concerns Georgie's relationship with classmate Claudia Nesbitt, and hijinks with his buddy "Fitzie." Georgie has thoughtful debates with his Catholic girlfriend about the nature of God and she encourages him to embrace his mental illness, even as his self- destructive nature threatens to destroy him. Much like the title character in Good Will Hunting, Georgie's redemption is somewhat expedient, but the character's voice is utterly compelling and Harnisch inhabits his troubled young hero with compassion and grace. A bittersweet postscript finds Georgie still struggling but determined to triumph: "The consciousness of life is higher than life, and the knowledge of happiness is higher than happiness," he notes. "And, that's what we have to fight against. I'll continue from now on to fight." The author's authenticity no doubt comes at great personal cost, but his writing is elevated by his personal experience. This story deserves an admiring audience.
Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.
Description: "Many do not realize what you are really feeling from day-to-day," commented one viewer on Facebook. And as another commented, “This is a brilliant video (series). It's like it's controlling your illness. Your fight to stay focused is brilliant; you say you "can't think straight," but it doesn't feel that way watching this now as I am. You are saying you cannot put your thoughts into the sequence you want them to be.” She continues, “ I can feel the need for you to complete this video. It's probably one of your best; it felt very authentic and real.” It's easy to criticize those who suffer from mental illness, and difficult to imagine what those afflicted with it really go through." This video aims to increase understanding and empathy of schizophrenia.
Disability abuse occurs when those with disabilities are abused physically, financially, verbally or mentally due to the person having a disability. As many disabilities are not visible (for example, asthma, learning disabilities) some abusers cannot rationalize the non-physical disability with a need for understanding, support, and so on. Scattered Addition To This Post [Unedited]: Carol M. commented publically below. I feel a response garners an opportune time and as a topic to run with suiting well as my morning writing session, which I have done most days if not every day for 25 some odd years, a great deal of which keeps me going, alive, and thriving the best I am able. I seldom if ever get writer's block but I'd like to reply though tossing and turning in various random directions but within this now-edited addition to the original post regarding the definition of disability abuse. It has taken me over an hour to write and without my editor, and I would endeavor to think my reply might suit to attach to this post. I believe disability abuse runs rampant in al parts of the world. It is a shame, and almost inevitable. In advance, a note that one of my eyes has become blind recently and tardive dyskinesia in my fingers leave me little ability to type or think straight. I apologize for typos. I have recently been copying and pasting archived posts, old and new (book reviews, etc.,) or just keeping my posts short and sweet, as if on Twitter … But, same here. Disability abuse seems impossible to prove. Having schizophrenia and, therefore, delusional thoughts make it impossible for anybody, from doctors, family, to lawyers (those who matter most) to believe our truths. Having schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (schizoaffective), borderline personality disorder, and PTSD primarily makes me unreliable, in many ways, or, at least, seem to. Nobody believes our truths. I detail this in some of my literature but nonetheless, that is the bottom line. I can't say much more due to this being a public page but I believe we are, or rather I'll speak for myself, that I am alone in this disability abuse, a victim of it, by many, if not most in my life here in "real" life. It becomes a never-ending hell if you will. Thank you for writing in recently Carol. To all of you who do so for that matter. I learn so much from you. I see a mirror or reflection of myself, sometimes with or without mental illness necessarily being involved. Universally, I believe we sail the same ship. Mental illness brings our human vulnerabilities, on another level. I'm compelled to mention this month's best-selling book by a landslide, Lover in the Nobody, the psycho-sexual thriller, and though not on Amazon, but in the literary magazines, the standalone novel has been reviewed again, by far my most well-written and praised work or the written word. It was the only novel I had outlined. The rest of the literature I write. I do not usually define the outer edges of my writing prior, as one reviewer of The Brutal Truth noted on February 10th, 2016, that all thoughts remain in print, therefore in his words "dazzling," unique, etc. Wishing more and more of you might read what I write professionally. It is quite difficult to sell the heavy duty literature I tend to write, often challenging reading, confusing and explicitly sexual, but not to promote my writing as much all of which one can be find by a simple Google search, or on http://www.Alibiography.com/After all, as I bring up now and then this page is by its description and intention an author site. It has just turned into something greater, better. At the same time, of course, I'd like to sell my books though it becomes uncomfortable at times to promote my work. One last note on this flight of idea and stream of thought part that I wish I could post directly from y books further but one of my primary occupations and source of income is as an author and, of course, I would like to sell my work, have it read, and gain exposure. I believe that I am reasonable. I can excerpt parts here and there but cannot publish what is otherwise already online as to my contracts for the 13 novels I have written since 2014 averaging 1,200 pages each, 2,500 pages in manuscript format. And Carol, or any of you, had you written, or do any of you, correctly that you, too, if I recall struggle with schizophrenia? Forgive me if I am mistaken or if you wish your diagnosis remain private. Please forgive me as I cannot write back or respond to everybody here on this page. Many messages come through each day. I would like to talk, or chat with so many of you, for the most part, although I not at liberty to keep a thought together much less communicate effectively, especially during the difficult times I endure lately, mainly interpersonally. I appreciate everyone's comments and communication. I tend not to be much of a people person, and might I add, I would think my writing reads clearer than my speech, pressured and flighty and remains difficult for me to chat candidly back and forth, I laugh, but without an editor. In other words, it is incredibly difficult for me to put my thoughts together. Thank you once again. My psychiatrist is considering once again hospitalizing me. I have got to admit it has been hell here where I live. But I move ahead the best I can as usual. It can become so severe, especially with a rather unattractive prognosis, meaning the symptoms of my schizophrenia have become treatment resistant, and I am not a candidate for Clozaril. This illness or a combination of them has been incredibly difficult as time goes on, and I understand it not easy for anybody involved even those who I feel abuse me. Mental illness, though I may laugh at it sometimes to cope, it does remain especially interpersonally extremely challenging, for all involved. I do, I feel so alone, not to seek pity or that I should "look to God, or Jesus," as so many write me, it is just a beast. I write a bit of a long session be it that it reads while written in haste, frustration, and agitation, for I have to get to work (online, overseas) my psychiatrist is under the overall impression and belief that my entire life is a delusion, one hallucination after another. Thus, the 800+ page Alibiography I wrote in 2014. I'd better leave it at that. But I had not yet written out my morning writing session yet, so this may suffice as such. Somebody commented that we "should all talk to one another to not feel so alone." I agree, perhaps it just gets confusing since I suppose with schizophrenia, every synapse in the brain misfires, and stress, lack of sleep, and so forth exacerbate everything. My thesis in this though perhaps not all too clear is that as my therapist and I try twice a week, with little result but some, interpersonal relationships become beyond chaotic. I treat others badly. I have rage attacks. It makes me violent. I have never hurt any person or animal, etc., in my life. My personal items primarily electronics I own (I can laugh at this currently because I do not believe this right now) ... I occasionally become under the impression that "demons" infest my cell phone and computers, etc., ugh, my apologies for writing this out certainly scattered the early morning, but at least, I could put some word on paper. I wish I had the capacity to write more essays on this page, but my illness prevents me. A scattered thought again, I know, but again schizophrenia to me equals chaos without much opportunity for help. We all have just to do our best and conform to conventional reality and people's "reasonable" beliefs, and roll with the reality to which we or I don not even subscribe. That is all for now. I likely need a bit of a break, and rest, also, sleep. My apologies for my diatribe, but it sure felt good to get out, as I have so many thought sin my head competing with one another causing an overload. So I pause, take a break, and begin again. Big day for me, later on, with a tremendous amount of stressful interactions I am trying to avoid, as I have liked myself in my office for a week now, with doors locked and curtains closed paranoia? Sure, a safety mechanism. Ugh. Does any of this resonate? I feel so off my game. I have got to vent for a second: Just for right now, I hate my life. Right now, I maintain zero appreciation for it. Postscript: We are not alone. I can see that now, for some odd reason! Hope you enjoy the day!
The Brutal Truth
Reviewed by Scott Neuffer
February 10, 2016
With electric prose, Harnisch makes a strong case for the rights and dignity of the mentally ill.
No one grasps the human mind quite like indie writer and artist Jonathan Harnisch. In his new collection of essays, The Brutal Truth, he explores the lurid twists and turns of his own schizophrenia. With his trademark dazzling style, he makes a strong case for the rights and dignity of the mentally ill.
Harnisch’s body of work is a vast, evolving oeuvre of self-referentiality. These essays often refer to Harnisch’s semiautobiographical novels and the alter-ego characters from them. They also incorporate his written contributions to an online support community for the mentally ill.
At the heart of the collection lies the question of worth. Harnisch addresses the stigma of mental disorders and how, in particular, the vibrant and mystical experiences of schizophrenics are discounted by society, leading to social alienation and greater fragmentation of the self.
Harnisch is a sum-total writer working in a postmodern vein. Nothing is left out; every thought gets printed. Sometimes this leads to banality. Humdrum platitudes like “Never give up or quit” and “Keep on keeping on” crop up in the essay “If You Are Going through Hell, Keep Going.”
More typically, Harnisch creates lively and propulsive prose through the use of sentence fragments: “I need my life. I crave life. No false hopes. The real deal. Quit. Win. Stay in the now. Stay alive.” His most electric writing mirrors the “flow of realities” in his mind.
While great for fiction, this stream-of-consciousness method can be problematic in standalone essays. In “It’s Coming to Get Me: The Voices of Paranoia,” the author, admitting he hasn’t slept in two days, defends the logic and reality of his paranoid thoughts about others persecuting him: “But we have—in fact—been chosen, you know? People are jealous of us.” The piece ends with almost no contextualization, leaving a difficult moral question: to what extent should the subjective reality of schizophrenics be respected?
Harnisch does a better job assessing this question and of contextualizing his experiences in “When Delusions Are Real: The Schizophrenic Experience.” In this essay, he incorporates psychologist Jean Piaget’s theory of object permanence.
The schizophrenic mind, Harnisch asserts, interacts with the world in heightened, multidimensional, mystical ways. What others may consider trivial facts or details are endowed with great meaning in the minds of schizophrenics. These manifold realities create a self-mythology full of aesthetic and moral significance. They shouldn’t be disregarded any more than a beautiful painting, a complicated novel, or someone’s religious devotions, he argues.
It is this fluxing intersection of art and life that makes The Brutal Truth a fascinating read. Harnisch aims for a greater understanding of mental illness, but he also touches upon the universal—how we all battle for the dignity of our thoughts and beliefs.
-- Foreword Clarion Reviews
BEN SCHREIBER suffers from a range of physical and psychiatric disorders, ranging from Tourette’s syndrome to narcissism, borderline personality, and schizoaffective disorder. He is hospitalized after a drug-crazed attempt at a bank robbery and is now under the care of Dr C, a female psychiatrist. Ben has little faith that psychiatric medicine will help him rid his mind of the delusions and hallucinations that his disorder presents, as it has done little for him thus far. He also knows that Dr C will not be treating him alone: He must introduce her to the cast of characters that share his brain, including Ben’s alter ego, GEORGIE GUST. Ben/Georgie are not classic “split” personalities: Georgie is a hallucination that springs from Ben’s disease and physically shares Ben’s life, making his symptoms even worse. Dr. C begins to suspect that Ben draws upon Georgie to help him avoid the bad memories that he has suppressed for his entire life and that underlie his post-traumatic stress and anxiety. She must try to get Ben to explore his relationship with Georgie, and the sexual fetishes that are triggered by CLAUDIA NESBITT, Georgie’s highly sexual and manipulative girlfriend, so that Ben can become once again the loving person he once was. She encourages Ben to talk about Georgie and Claudia in their sessions, and more importantly, to write about them as therapy. Ben discovers that writing gives him increasing freedom from the obsessive invasion of his thoughts by Georgie and Claudia and from his dreadful past memories that Dr C slowly uncovers. He begins to hope that converting Georgie to a literary character in the pages of an autobiographical novel will slowly remove him, along with Claudia, from Ben’s mind forever.
Just prior to my diagnosis with early onset schizophrenia.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy. It was originally designed to treat depression but is now used for a number of mental disorders. It works to solve current problems and change unhelpful thinking and behavior.
This is the story of John Marshall, an ambitious and troubled young man determined to climb to the top of New York high society while spreading chaos and misery in his wake. Raised in a household of drunken abuse, John has little hope of anything but a factory job. Then he has an intimate encounter with an enticing woman who gets everything she wants through seduction—and the experience changes John’s life. Stoking his hatred of the rich and powerful, he finds work in the homes of the wealthy as a private tutor, all the while seeking to win the love of their wives and daughters. The series of encounters that ensues builds to a storm of consequences as John strives for his envisioned future while racing to keep ahead of the past. Of Crime and Passion is a story of greed, lust, and the cost of getting ahead by any means.
Ben Schreiber knew Wakefield Academy would be a disaster before he even arrived. It would be the same as his last school--the taunting, the judgment, the panic at being an all-too-obvious schizophrenic in a crowd of teenage brats hungry for a target. His fears are confirmed the moment he steps out of his parent's rusty car to the mocking sneers of his posh classmates. So what does Ben do? He retreats into himself, allowing the second being within his body to rise to consciousness--Georgie Gust, an angry, resentful, Tourette's-ridden personality, suspicious of everyone and trusting of none. Georgie navigates Wakefield campus within the smog of self-hate. He hates how his body twitches and his words betray him, hates how his odd walk brings cruel laughter, hates the stares that follow him when he tries to disappear. Georgie quickly attracts a crowd of tormenters lead by a cocky lacrosse player, Ozer. It's Claudia, however--Ozer's beautiful and troubled girlfriend--who captures Georgie's attention. Claudia alone does not join in with her friends' jeers, choosing instead to come to Georgie in friendship, her own demons lurking just beneath skin's surface. Though Georgie fights to believe no one can ever understand him, Claudia does. She is there when he drinks himself into a stupor every night and shows up for class hungover; she is there when he is harassed and beaten by their peers; she is there when his academic brilliance begins to gleam, nurtured by the support of the philosophy professor, Heidi. It is for fear of hurting Claudia that Georgie begins to care for himself; he stops drinking, throws out his cigarettes, and devotes himself to the pursuit of a prestigious scholarship. But nothing is ever so easy. As Georgie begins to heal beneath Claudia's warmth, he fails to see her own troubles. For how could someone so beautiful, smart, and well-liked know what suffering is? Surely, her problems run only so deep as her cheating boyfriend and exam stress. It is Heidi, the philosophy professor, who calls Georgie out on his selfishness. On the edge of a cliff, Heidi accuses Georgie of choosing hatred and isolation, of rejecting the love of others because hate is easier than accountability. Georgie both wants to be loved and desperately fears it. Georgie's defenses, while justified, are selfish ones, and they lead him to miss the warning signs in the one person he loves. One morning Claudia is gone, and it is Georgie who finds her broken body twisted in a tree on that same cliff where Heidi scolded him. So selfishly had he thought he was the only one with illness; she had understood him better than he ever knew. Claudia's death both destroys and saves him. It is for her that Georgie chooses to use his illness rather than hate it; for her, that he laughs at his absurdities instead of fall victim to them; for her that he opens his life and ultimately wins the scholarship. In the end, it is what Georgie thought impossible that leads him out of the darkness: acceptance. If only he'd recognized it before she chose to die.