The Fragmentation Podcast

30
Apr

Lover in the Nobody [Audiobook]

A young man battling extreme mental illness brings his sadomasochistic fantasies to life in Harnisch's (Sex, Drugs, and Schizophrenia, 2014, etc.) latest novel. As this riveting story opens, Georgie Gust, a suicidal Tourette's syndrome patient, tells his doctor he wants to leave the mental institution where he's been committed. When the doctor puts him off, Gust finds himself buffeted by violent fantasies of escape, and he even prepares to hang himself. The novel plunges readers into the mind of a man at war with his own urges, memories, and sexual obsessions. After a scene shift, Gust's chauffeur, Ben, delivers him to his empty home, where Margaret, his only friend, visits to check on him. However, she annoys him because "she seems to care." Later, Gust, a foot fetishist, gives a pedicure to his sexy neighbor, Claudia, in a scene lit with unexpected poetry and poignancy. As the narrative viewpoint flickers among Gust, Ben, and a quasi-omniscient third-person perspective, Gust's voracious appetite for pain prompts him to hire Claudia to torment him. (He has wealthy parents, so he spends cash liberally.) When Claudia's house goes up in flames, she moves in with him, and their sadomasochistic bond descends into extraordinary, hallucinatory violence. In Claudia's hands, Gust discovers new depths of masochism, and she finds joy in tormenting him. Despite the garishness, brutality, and squalor of many passages (which are not for the squeamish), more sophisticated readers will appreciate the extraordinary feat Harnisch has accomplished. He lucidly, poignantly conveys a mind riven with what are, after all, human vulnerabilities: mental pathologies, shameful fantasies, anguished doubts about the natures of reality, love, and memory. In the hands of a lesser writer, these themes would splinter the narrative. Fortunately, the author masters his material; readers will believe the voices that vivify it and compassionately wish them to find the healing that eludes them. An extraordinary, harrowing odyssey into an embattled self, full of humor, compassion, and a rare understanding of mental illness.

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30
Apr

Living Colorful Beauty [Audiobook]

Living Colorful Beauty is a twisted, intensely character-driven ride. In Living Colorful Beauty, author Jonathan Harnisch tells the story of Ben, a man diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome, schizoaffective disorder, and several other issues. Ever since his youth, Ben has been both plagued by mental illness and obsessed with venality. As he navigates through an unstable, directionless life and leaves a string of shattered romances in his wake, he generates a fictional character, Georgie Gust, to deal with his many paraphilias and neuroses. But with the introduction of a new psychotherapist, Ben may have a chance to let go of his doppelgänger as well as his overwhelming insecurity. Though the book is saturated with Ben's sexuality, its prevailing theme is actually his struggle to come to terms with his mental health. The entire book reads like a Freudian therapy session, so the ultimate resolution of Ben's problems is appropriate. Ben's internal creative process is integral to the book's effectiveness, since much of the psychoanalysis Ben receives seems to come from himself through the lens of his fictional creation, Georgie. The book features an almost claustrophobic amount of navel-gazing, which may be intentional. At times, the reading experience leaves no doubt as to how the book's main character could drive himself crazy with his recursive, obsessive self-examination. Ben and Georgie have an interesting and nuanced relationship. At times Ben seems completely unable to control his double while simultaneously being one with him. He often reassures himself that his creation is the inferior man, citing Georgie's pumpkin-like body as the reason that nobody will ever want him. On the other hand, of the two of them, Georgie seems to have the more active love life. Ben reaches for emotional intimacy through relationship after relationship, but his illness, issues with women, and physical demands--the Georgie in him--constantly hamper his progress. As the narrator, Ben's point of view colors all of the other characters. Several of these, in addition to Georgie, are or may be fictional, mere expressions of Ben's illness. This is especially true of the women in Ben's life. There are comparatively very few men in this story, but the women are usually of a seductive and even predatory type. Ben aggressively sizes up the ladies he knows, from his girlfriends to his therapist, in terms of their attractiveness, perhaps in an attempt to balance the scales, since in his own perception, women are domineering copies of his own terrifying mother. Part of Ben's evolution is to move toward a valuing of women beyond his mother issues, a satisfying direction for this character to travel. Living Colorful Beauty is a twisted, intensely character-driven ride that ends on a hopeful note. It may interest fans of Charles Bukowski and Tom Robbins.

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30
Apr

When We Were Invincible [Audiobook]

A boarding school student with Tourette's syndrome looks for the meaning of life in this offbeat novella. This is recommended to fans of Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. When We Were Invincible details the experiences of Georgie Gust at the fictional St. Michael's Academy, a prestigious East Coast boarding school. In the vein of Catcher in the Rye, the novella focuses on Georgie's sense of isolation and feelings of otherness as he navigates his world while suffering from Tourette's Syndrome and early onset schizophrenia. Although the two disorders set Georgie apart from the rest of his classmates, they do not deter Claudia from pursuing a relationship with him. Seeing Georgie as more than a series of tics, Claudia recognizes him for the unconventional intellectual that he is, and together they explore a number of theological and philosophical questions that defy neat and simple answers. Nevertheless, Georgie and Claudia's encounters, whether they take place wandering illicitly off campus at night, through letters and emails, or simply in the hallways and classrooms of their school, have the power to change them both forever.

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30
Apr

April 24 2016 Movie

At the end of the day, I stand by who I am. I am a good person.

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30
Apr

The Happiest Driver In The World

At the end of the day, I stand by who I am. I am a good person.

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30
Apr

A Gargantuan Mind-Altering Literary Musical For A New Generation

At the end of the day, I stand by who I am. I am a good person.

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30
Apr

Lotto Movie

At the end of the day, I stand by who I am. I am a good person.

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30
Apr

Movie 4-16-16

At the end of the day, I stand by who I am. I am a good person.

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30
Apr

Wednesday 20 April 2016 Movie

At the end of the day, I stand by who I am. I am a good person.

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30
Apr

Working from Home

At the end of the day, I stand by who I am. I am a good person.

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30
Apr

#InternationalDanceDay

International Dance Day Jonathan Harnisch Friday, April 29, 2016

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26
Apr

Jonathan Harnisch: Schizophrenia: Time For A Fresh Start

Tuesday, April 26, 2016, 3:30 AM

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25
Apr
24
Apr

Commitment

I know all about commitment. I commit to hiding and exaggerating my flaws, trying to make others happy and comfortable at the expense of my own happiness and comfort, supporting other people’s dreams at the expense of my own dreams, and criticizing myself and others at every turn. I commit to what I think I should be rather than committing to meeting myself where I am. I commit to seeing myself through other people’s eyes, gauging my self-worth based on their acceptance rather than witnessing my unique inner beauty and strength. I commit to being nice rather than being real. I commit to being right rather than being vulnerable. When other people in my life don’t behave in the way that I think they should I sulk and mope or worse, I get even. I justify my emotional outbursts or bad behavior based on the actions of others and in so doing; I often act in the same manner as the person who set me off in the first place. When I give others the power to push my emotional buttons, I become their slave often without realizing it. The problem is I am the one who suffers.

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23
Apr

Interior Monolog

The feelings and thoughts, the interior monolog I have running through my brain. Some of the things I silently tell myself, otherwise: I appreciate people who are patient with me while I am sometimes distant, trying to figure myself out on an ongoing basis. I sit here, at my cluttered desk, unshaven, and disheveled. Crowded thoughts race through my head, in this wild jungle; my brain, the eye of a tornado, and I think part of it, part of what I am thinking, or trying to think, to believe, comes down to knowing for myself, perhaps, that I may be a real person. A good man hides somewhere inside this cage of my body. This part of me, or in some cases, us, often hides in the depths of all uncertainties, fears, and indecent behavior, both artistically and personally. I am not perfect by any means, I treat many people including my hundreds of readers, to whom I [repeated word: I ... I ... I...] I am a fully-fledged narcissist lacking self-esteem or self-worth. But I should show appreciation, but instead, I provoke them. I provoke you. I know that my intentions are favorable. My heart and my soul, so to speak, are pure, and I love hard, painfully and intensely with everything I've got, though it often does not show. It is because of these things that I know somewhere way deep down inside that I am worth it, as sad, lonely, desperate, sordid and colorless and as pathetic as my life has become. I have always held love in my heart, and that will never change no matter how inappropriate or inadequate or wrongly I express love, gratitude, appreciation in experiencing a valuable life, I don’t know the value of things. I just can’t grasp value. I don’t know. It is just really hard for me to find much joy or peace of mind or any elation in my life, though I am aware there are apparently many things of which to be joyful. I just can't see it, find it, or know it as my severely mentally ill, volatile mind deteriorates. Blah, blah, blah. Fuck it; none of this makes any sense whatsoever. That’s all for now.
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23
Apr

Cognitive Impairment

Cognitive impairment is when a person has trouble remembering, learning new things, concentrating, or making decisions that affect their everyday life. 

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21
Apr

Reminiscence

There is something about being loved and protected by a parent (or guardian) knowing that I can be loved for who I am, not what I can do, or might one day become. Unfortunately, it’s not usually like this in every single situation. From time to time, my parents made mistakes during my childhood. Possibly I was the mistake, or unwanted. But I don’t know. I had every material thing that I could have ever wanted, but there was still something missing as if I felt distanced from my parents, or misunderstood, in the ways that they treated me. At times, I had felt completely loved and accepted by my parents, but for one reason or another, they were unable to care for me, provide for me, in some ways that would have been very important. Sometimes I feel like I am trying to make up for the experiences in life that were absent when I was a child. I miss Dad. He is turning 70 soon. I wish I could share this with him but unfortunately, we are still estranged from one another.

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16
Apr

Living with Psychosis: Living in Shame

Living with Psychosis: Living in Shame
Time passes so quickly these days as I come upon my 40th year. The prognosis of my schizophrenia spectrum disorder becomes clearer as my cognitive abilities decline.
Life is an intimate and somewhat private stage. By contrast, the Internet is a public and global stage that is written in ink, not pencil. There is a curtain that always remains open.
Time passes. Time goes... Where?
“I’ve always loved the night, when everyone else is asleep and the world is all mine. It’s quiet and dark—the perfect time for creativity.” —Jonathan Harnisch, Porcelain Utopia
I forget the rest. I just don’t care anymore. But the sad part is I actually do.
Love me, hate me, hurt me, or kill me. I keep fighting.
In a recent review in Foreword Reviews—known as “THE indie books magazine”—of one of my novels, perhaps my legacy, Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography, Alex Franks, in an excellent critique, writes: “Mental illness is romanticized at points in the text, as well, which may leave some familiar with the realities with an unsavory taste. That's not to say the work isn't well written—it's carefully plotted with well-rendered characters, presented in a narrative that would appropriately be deemed ‘schizophrenic.’” To romanticize, we must deal with an event in an idealized or unrealistic fashion; make something seem better or more appealing than it really is. I must have been having a good day when writing those “romanticized” parts. But, Jesus, sometimes I know of no other way to cope.
The illness sucks. Schizophrenia sucks. And right now I think I suck. I’m sick. I am very sick. I was simply taking a nap in the house, but my so-to-speak real life is fully delusional. All the negative stuff, as my psychiatrist reminds me every day, are hallucinations or delusions. I am turning into my own book in many respects, and I still do not accept my overall mental health condition, not being able to tell what is real and what is not real, while my thinking, behavior, and mood are altered. That in itself presents a large problem—most of my problems.
I will be around. I hope I will be working, not sleeping. I don't know. As the day continues, I will try my best for you because I trust you, and I think you know that I would like your thoughts on things at some point. I understand that many of the things I ask others to do are simply unrealistic or out of their jurisdiction, maybe. I just don't know how to wing it. I don't know what I'm saying. I have no clue, though life is just impossible. I have to have a plan. I can't make one. I have nothing. If you have a full hour until one o'clock, feel free to leave messages of any kind. I just have nothing to say. Blah, blah, blah...
Too many problems to discuss, and they change—with additions and deletions. For example, this morning. And then not later in the morning. And then now, which means it has changed three times already. I believe I am not real and that nothing is real, not even that thought. All I do is hurt people. I am often ashamed of myself, mostly when I am around other people in any way at all. And I think I'm brilliant, and I talk too much, and I don't talk at all. I'm a complete waste, a failure, a miserable miscreant, and then it changes back-and-forth, back-and-forth, back-and-forth. You can see I'm trying to communicate, and I just can't. Anyway I am safe. I am not suicidal. As usual, I’m sure many are concerned, though nobody is here or there. I don't care.
This has already taken me 40 minutes to write. It sounds scary, and sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn't. Everything is in black and white right now. I just don't care about a thing. I have no idea what is going on, if anything at all. I lie, I cheat, I steal, and I use people. I'm a goodhearted person, I am smart, I am a creative, I am successful, I am wealthy, and I have my good times. Simply, in three words: "I don't know." But somehow I seem to get through it.
The sad part is that I can't help it.
The curtain opens again.
“Oh no, not him again. Not Jonathan. Not Harnisch,” a chorus of voices chants in lyrical beats and a rhythmic tempo in my head. It’s perfect. It suits me fine and fittingly so. I am hidden. Hidden at his meticulously cluttered desk covered in piles of books sits a frozen, mysterious, mosaic-eyed man in a tattered brown-and-yellow plaid suit. His thick salt-and-pepper hair is shaggy and mussed, his face unshaven, and his demeanor disheveled. His name is Jonathan Harnisch. Oh, that is me again. I can’t get away from myself. Already up all night and day, and onto something else. Something new. Something.
I invite you to take what you want and leave the rest, as with all my work for that matter. I must apologize in advance, for I am having a bit of an episode and feel bitter, groggy, and, I might add, narcissistic—deriving from no self-esteem, perhaps. I am once again out of bed and inspired. I think. We’ll see if it comes across. That seems strange to me. My introduction. As my father would say, bizarre and odd, and perhaps it makes him look bad since he is a public figure. I am sorry, Pops. This is about me and perhaps about my readers.
I have no idea how this is coming out. Just write. If I lose a thought, I’ll grab hold of something else and run with that. God bless my scattered thoughts. I am leaving them in this writing without revision. And now, the Great John Nash. I mean, Jonathan. Yes, that guy. The same person as last time. Different but the same. Strange. To begin with my first unavoidable non sequitur, since I can’t seem to think straight without sleep. 72 hours now. People are strange. No I didn’t say that. Someone else did, I think. “How was that for an introduction?” I ask myself, but I hear no response. I often do. But I have always believed that anyone, yes, anyone suffering from any type of mental illness is one badass mother f’*er. Nothing is more terrifying than battling with your own mind every single day.
So, get ready for this. It may not be for the faint of heart. Once, when promoting one of my novels, I was asked about the comparison of my work to Alasdair Gray's 1982 book Janine—a challenging book about power and powerlessness, men and women, and masters and servants. In reply, I said that this sexploration of the politics of pornography has lost none of its power to shock. It is a searing portrait of male need and inadequacy, a theme also explored through the lonely sexual fantasies of the character in all my work and most of my real life.
I am not here to promote my work. I have simply been starting to see my entire life as entirely and seamlessly in sequence with the story of my otherwise fictionalized autobiography. How pretentious of me, a Dostoevsky would likely say in criticism. One of my literary heroes—in line with the stream of fragmented thought I’m known for. I am a failed husband, lover, and businessman. But I am hopeful that I can use my wildly eccentric mind and reality in my work—as my literary playground. The playground of an author and all-around artist, dreamer, man on a mission, and human being just like you who also suffers—like all of us, in one way or another. The author (oui, c'est moi, l'auteur, the third person) laughs as he writes this, but hey, we're all for sale in some way. But actually, I'm all over the place. I'm in my head, my imagination, and my moment—comfortable here (comfortable nowhere).
Have I already lost you? Awesome! Keep reading. I do what I do, as they say, and I change. All the time, often taking delight in the touchy topic of madness, for example, in this brand new, raw, brutally honest, and extremely palpable psychiatric thriller that is part fiction and part truth and is featured in Publishers Weekly and Writer's Digest, among other literary publications—by controversial mental health advocate, Jonathan Harnisch (Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography (2014); Second Alibi: The Banality of Life (2014); Sex, Drugs, and Schizophrenia (2014); Living Colorful Beauty (2015)).
Ah, another reality begins slipping in. I am aware, I think. Maybe? Possibly. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s the mental illness, and maybe it’s nothing. Random rules! Ah, an oxymoron! I love it. Another illogical non sequitur? How many? I think I have already lost track. I’m still finding myself. What is the sad part? That is what I wonder. By the end, will there be some sort of whimper or instead a bang that resonates? Bordering on brilliant, I love this. Mania. Sleep deprivation. Stuff. Myself. I admit it, I won’t defend myself. I don’t. Usually. I’d rather find reality, as, otherwise, it slips away—every day.
Lost. My lost thought. Lost? Yes. I talk to myself. Even in my writing, my jibber-jabber. The voice in my head is speaking to me now. I take dictation, as fragmented as it is: “You’re nothing but a waling cliché.” I won’t argue with that. I think the voices often tell me the truth. I love my alter egos and my double self. You can find them in my Alibi: Ben, Georgie, Tom, Claudia, Heidi, Kelly, and so on. My friends.
Fragment. Should I reconsider or break the rules of grammar? I choose the latter. I finished school. I write how I want these days. I am Jonathan Harnisch, the fragmented stream-of-thought, delusional, self-stigmatizing, at times self-loathing, four-times #1 Amazon bestselling author and #1 writer of hot new releases under the subject of schizophrenia. He introduces his ("Yours?" asks Dr. C, in my throbbing, labyrinthine head), yes, my, debut novel. Perhaps my pièce de résistance, Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography is now being taught at university level for its inspired and vivid portrayal of a disturbed reality, which is sometimes disquieting and at other times harsh. And with real emotions! It is culture-bearing, brazen, and bordering on brilliant—bam! Here she is, for 10 bucks (US), with all royalties donated to charity through the Jonathan Harnisch Foundation. Boom!
And then there is Lover in the Nobody, where Ben Schreiber (voila, c'est moi, c'est Jonathan!) has Tourette's syndrome, which causes him to display uncontrollable tics and hops, stuttering and swearing inappropriately. Bullied throughout his school years, he can never form firm friendships, especially with women. He's simply incapable of happiness. In his late twenties, he plunges into a downward spiral of drug and alcohol abuse that culminates in an attempted bank robbery using a cell phone as a fake bomb. He is arrested and placed under psychiatric evaluation, where his psychiatrist, Dr. C, quickly sees that Ben's affliction is more than just Tourette's. Ben is not alone. Inside his head lives Georgie Gust, Ben's alter ego. Georgie is obsessed with his manipulative and extremely sexual next-door neighbor, Claudia Nesbitt, and shares a sadomasochistic relationship with her that is supported only by his obsession. Claudia has no love for Georgie, and while Ben desperately searches for someone, Claudia Nesbitt, the perfect woman, is able to provide him with the unconditional love that he never received as a boy. He finds it easier to retreat into his mind and to share George's sick obsession with the cruel and abusive Claudia than to deal with his real issues. Dr. C senses that Ben is suffering from some type of post-traumatic stress that occurred early in his childhood and that he is using Georgie as an escape whenever bad memories start to surface. It is up to Dr. C to help Ben face the buried terrors of his childhood so that he can finally let go of Georgie and reduce him to the literary character that writer Ben wants him to be. Alas, if you don't have this book in your library or classroom, what do you have? Get your copy now!
P.S. I never said I was "normal." I suffer and move on. I laugh and cry. I write it all out and never give up. Sending light and love, from me, Mr. J.
I'm lost. I don't know what to do with my life. I don't know what I'm doing anymore. I don't know what I want to see. My world used to be worth living, but now it's hard enough just to be me.
Those who have experienced psychosis are stigmatized in our society, and those with schizophrenia are highly attuned to stigma. I live with both, and my life is spent living in my own way within the comorbid schizophrenia spectrum—with medical support, psychiatric and therapeutic help, and the work I do on my own to battle the symptoms and episodes that I experience frequently as my illness falls deeper and deeper into a state of decline. I still have my good days and my bad days.
It is interesting for me to look back at these written accounts of the bouts I have had with myself and with schizophrenia—and how I seem to always get through them. To me, that shows resilience. I am proud of that.
Tonight I haven’t slept, again, so here I am as usual. Symptomatic and sleep-deprived, using writing therapy as my tool—my lifeline. I often consider writing in itself as my life.
I think all in all it comes down to the fact that other people in my life have all the say in my life and that they have full control of my life, although as I write I realize that this is likely my illness speaking; it is my mind playing tricks on me. I do not have control of my own life, and frankly I do not want control of my life because my mind with schizophrenia feels all too often to determine everything. I won’t settle for anything less than the brutal truth. I'm not excusing myself from this either.
I am a troubled man. I am not good. I burn bridges. I can't make my mind up about anything. I can love, but I cannot fall in love. I don't know how to trust. I make more mistakes than I should. I am always sorry, but I never change. I am afraid of letting anyone else in my life get too close to me. If you want to come into my life, the door is open. If you want to get out of my life, the door is open. I have just one request. Don’t stand in the door and block the traffic.
Sometimes I see no other way than to let other people go. I remove them and erase them completely from my life because I believe they are toxic to me. If I can, I let them go. I remove them completely from my life and do my best not to feel guilty about it. I frequently feel I have no other choice but to them go because they take and take and leave me feeling empty. I let them go when I can because in the ocean of life, when all I am trying to do is stay afloat, they are the anchor that drowns me. Unfortunately, perhaps sadly, when I blame other people, I blame myself. I let go of myself. That is one of the brutal truths about me. I will only settle for the brutal truth. I must also admit in confession that sometimes I look into the mirror and see a complete stranger.
You don’t want to be me.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder often characterized by abnormal social behavior and a failure to recognize what is real. Common symptoms include false beliefs, unclear or confused thinking, auditory hallucinations, reduced social engagement and emotional expression, and lack of motivation.
The saying comes to mind: “People will hate you, rate you, shake you and break you. But how strong you stand is what makes you.” This comes into my mind, penetrating my mind. I must stand. I must keep going. There is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the damn hallways in between that get in the way. The hallways keep me awake, as I try to find the door and try to keep hope and faith. I have it. I have this. I will never give up. Never, ever. Never say never. “Never!” I kick ass.
When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kindness. People may not tell you how they feel about you, but they will always show you. Pay attention. Spread kindness. Be nice to those around you. If you can't think of anything nice to say, you're not thinking hard enough. Smile at others and start a piggy bank for a cause, keeping your spare change in the piggy bank. When it is full, donate it to a charity of your choice. A sincere smile is a very kind and meaningful way to make a positive difference in someone's day. Without using words, a smile says to a person, "Hi, I hope you have a nice day." Help a child learn. When you look back at your childhood, you can probably name several key people who taught you some of the most important things you know today. You too can be an influential force in a child's life by spending time helping him or her learn. Though it is a common courtesy to say "Bless you!" when someone sneezes, people rarely do so unless it is someone they know. The next time you hear or see someone sneeze, offer those kind words regardless of whether or not you know the person. And if you have a tissue on hand, offer that, too!
Beyond anything else, the hardest part is self-compassion. You need that to do anything for others. That seems to be the hardest part, but is the first step. Again, by default, when given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kindness. It will make a huge difference if you can pull it off, one of those easier-said-than-done ideas. I speak from experience.
Thank you for reading these thoughts, some of which I have read about from various sources online and in books about kindness. I behave in this way when I can, often going to homeless parks and giving out food from a restaurant whenever I can leave the house. I have been doing so for years and years, and I even wrote a chapter about this in Alibiography, my debut novel—the chapter entitled "Benevolent Georgie." Enjoy your morning, day, or evening, depending wherever you are in your neck of the woods.
There is more to come.
I find this closure quite amusing. At the same time, in all seriousness, one final thought: other people who don’t understand the first thing about me and my delusional reality should stop expecting “normal” from me. We all know it is never going to happen.
I hope this leaves you with a little laugh, all the while gaining a glimpse into my madness in order to understand or possibly simply consider your own.
Love me or hate me: I continue delivering this discourse as the unconventional mental health advocate that I believe I am, with problems galore: schizoaffective disorder, Tourette’s syndrome with Autistic spectrum disorders, and PTSD. And all the rest not otherwise specified. I’m still the same bad-ass author and Hollywood sage with more to come.
Until next time, or to quote Jerry Springer of all people, "Till next time, take care of yourselves and each other."
I am and will always be Jonathan Harnisch.
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14
Apr

Early Signs of Schizophrenia

Early Signs of Schizophrenia:

The following list, compiled by one mental health consumer, contains some of the typical early warning signs of schizophrenia. Keep in mind that schizophrenia onset is typical between the ages of 15 and 25 (although it can affect children younger than fourteen, with a subtype known as childhood-onset schizophrenia). The disorder can come on over a period of years (called insidious onset) or be very rapid. It affects 1% of the general population. The list is subdivided into Physical Symptoms, Feelings and Mood, Behavior, Cognitive Problems, Delusions, and Hallucinations.

Please remember that only a qualified psychologist, psychiatrist (or in some areas a social worker) can accurately diagnose schizophrenia or any other brain disorder. A psychologist or psychiatrist will use the clinical history of the person, as well as the symptoms and criteria in the DSM-IV (in the United States) to make a diagnosis.

Examples of Physical Symptoms----

--A blank, vacant facial expression. An inability to smile or express emotion through the face is so characteristic of the disease that it was given the name of affective flattening or a blunt affect.
--Overly acute senses- lights are too bright, sounds are too loud.
--Staring, while in deep thought, with infrequent blinking.
--Clumsy, inexact motor skills
--Sleep disturbances- insomnia or excessive sleeping
--Involuntary movements of the tongue or mouth (facial dyskinesias). Grimacing at the corners of the mouth with the facial muscles, or odd movements with the tongue.
--Parkinsonian type symptoms- rigidity, tremor, jerking arm movements, or involuntary movements of the limbs
--An awkward gait (how you walk)
--Eye movements- difficulty focusing on slow moving objects
--Unusual gestures or postures
--Movement is speeded up- i.e. constant pacing 
--Movement is slowed down- staying in bed (in extreme cases, catatonia)

Examples of Feelings/Emotions----

--The inability to experience joy or pleasure from activities (called anhedonia)
--Sometimes feeling nothing at all 
--Appearing desireless- seeking nothing, wanting nothing
--Feeling indifferent to important events
--Feeling detached from your own body (depersonalization)
--Hypersensitivity to criticism, insults, or hurt feelings

Examples of Mood----

--Sudden irritability, anger, hostility, suspiciousness, resentment
--Depression- feeling discouraged and hopeless about the future
--Low motivation, energy, and little or no enthusiasm
--Suicidal thoughts or suicidal ideation
--Rapidly changing mood- from happy to sad to angry for no apparent reason (called labile mood)
--Severe Anxiety

Changes in Behavior associated with schizophrenia ----

--Dropping out of activities and life in general
--Inability to form or keep relationships
--Social isolation- few close friends if any. Little interaction outside of immediate family.
--Increased withdrawal, spending most of the days alone.
--Becoming lost in thoughts and not wanting to be disturbed with human contact
--Neglect in self-care- i.e. hygiene, clothing, or appearance
--Replaying or rehearsing conversations out loud- i.e. talking to yourself (very common sign)
--Finding it difficult to deal with stressful situations
--Inability to cope with minor problems
--Lack of goal-directed behavior. Not being able to engage in purposeful activity
--Functional impairment in interpersonal relationships, work, education, or self-care
--Deterioration of academic or job-related performance
--Inappropriate responses- laughing or smiling when talking about a sad event, making irrational statements.
--Catatonia- staying in the same rigid position for hours, as if in a daze.
--Intense and excessive preoccupation with religion or spirituality 
--Drug or alcohol abuse
--Smoke or have the desire to want to smoke (70-90% do smoke) - note: this is a very normal behavior for people who do not have schizophrenia also! 
--Frequent moves, trips, or walks that lead nowhere
Examples of Cognitive Problems Associated with Schizophrenia ----

--Ruminating thoughts- these are the same thoughts that go around and round your head but get you nowhere. Often about past disappointments, missed opportunities, failed relationships.
--Making up new words (neologisms)
--Becoming incoherent or stringing unrelated words together (word salad)
--Frequent loose association of thoughts or speech- when one thought does not logically relate to the next. For example, "I need to go to the store to buy some band-aids. I read an article about how expensive AIDS drugs are. People take too many street drugs. The streets should be clean from the rain today, etc." The need to go to the store to buy band-aids is forgotten.
--Directionless- lack goals, or the ability to set and achieve goals

--Lack of insight (called anosognosia). Those who are developing schizophrenia are unaware that they are becoming sick.      The part of their brain that should recognize that something is wrong is damaged by the disease.
--Racing thoughts 
--In conversation you tend to say very little (called poverty of speech or alogia)
--Suddenly halting speech in the middle of a sentence (thought blocking)

--Trouble with social cues- i.e. not being able to interpret body language, eye contact, voice tone, and gestures appropriately. --Often not responding appropriately and thus coming off as cold, distant, or detached.
--Difficulty expressing thoughts verbally. Or not having much to say about anything. 
--Speaking in an abstract or tangential way. Odd use of words or language structure
--Difficulty focusing attention and engaging in goal directed behavior
--Poor concentration/ memory. Forgetfulness
--Nonsensical logic
--Difficulty understanding simple things
--Thoughts, behavior, and actions are not integrated 
--Obsessive compulsive tendencies- with thoughts or actions
--Thought insertion/ withdrawal- thoughts are put it or taken away without a conscious effort
--Conversations that seem deep, but are not logical or coherent

Examples of Delusions----

The most common type of delusion or false beliefs are paranoid delusions. These are persecutory in nature and take many forms:

--Overpowering, intense feeling that people are talking about you, looking at you
--Overpowering, intense feeling you are being watched, followed, and spied on (tracking devices, implants, hidden cameras)
--Thinking that someone is trying to poison your food
--Thinking people are working together to harass you
--Thinking that something is controlling you- i.e. an electronic implant
--Thinking that people can read your mind/ or control your thoughts
--Thinking that your thoughts are being broadcast over the radio or tv
--Delusions of reference- thinking that random events convey a special meaning to you. An example is that a newspaper headline or a license plate has a hidden meaning for you to figure out. That they are signs trying to tell you something. 
--Religious delusions- that you are Jesus, God, a prophet, or the antichrist.
--Delusions of grandeur- the belief that you have an important mission, special purpose, or are an unrecognized genius, or famous person.
--Delusions that someone, often a famous person, is in love with you when in reality they aren't. Also called erotomania or de Clerembault syndrome.

Examples of Hallucinations----

--Hallucinations are as real as any other experience to the person with schizophrenia. As many as 70% hear voices, while a lesser number have visual hallucinations. 
--Auditory hallucinations can be either inside the person's head or externally. When external, they sound as real as an actual voice. Sometimes they come from no apparent source, other times they come from real people who don't actually say anything, other times a person will hallucinate sounds. 
--When people hear voices inside their heads, it is as if their inner thoughts are no longer alone. The new voices can talk to each other, talk to themselves, or comment on the person's actions. The majority of the time the voices are negative. 
--Visual hallucinations operate on a spectrum. They start with the overacuteness of the senses, then in the middle are illusions, and on the far end are actual hallucinations.

Disclaimer: The following symptoms overlap with many other diseases such as bipolar disorder, major depression, the various kinds of personality disorders (specifically paranoid and schizotypal personality disorders), and other problems such as brain tumors and temporal lobe epilepsy. There is no "typical" case of schizophrenia. Everyone has different symptoms. Seek the opinion of your doctor always.

Moreover, it is always important to keep the big picture in mind. Having just a few of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that a person has schizophrenia, or any other sort of psychiatric disorder. Almost all of the signs below can be present to a "normal" degree in people; it is when someone displays them to a significant degree that they can become psychiatric symptoms. Think if all of these behaviors as being on a continuum, in which the middle 99% of people displaying varying degrees of the behavior, but are still within the "normal" range. The 1% of people on the outer edges have the behaviors in extreme proportion, and/or a significant proportion of the time, and that is when they can become debilitating.

A diagnosis of schizophrenia requires that continuous disturbance (i.e. debilitating symptoms) be present for at least six months, including at least one month of certain key symptoms (active symptoms: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, disorganized/catatonic behavior, negative symptoms such as severe emotional flatness or apathy).
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13
Apr

Second Alibi [Leprechaun Podcast]

Afflicted with schizophrenia, Tourette’s Syndrome and other mental illnesses, the prolific and gifted Jonathan Harnisch has transformed the harrowing raw material of his life into what he calls “transgressive fiction” in semi-autobiographical novels such as Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography and Living Colorful Beauty. With Second Alibi: The Banality of Life, he revisits the abrasive, triangular psychodrama of his brilliant, questing psychotic Ben Schreiber, Ben’s libertine alter-ego, Georgie Gust, and the sadistic temptress, Claudia Nesbitt, who torments them both, while also including a moving plea for understanding that stands apart from the disturbed fevers of his fiction. “This is a story, I hope, about my coming to enlightenment,” Harnisch writes, and in that vein he enlightens us, too, about the fantastic terrors of schizophrenia: “What this life is like with the ups and the downs, the confusion, the love and the hate; the black and the white.” He tells us about his moods abruptly shifting 25 times in an hour, his suicide attempts and addictions, the grim realities of sleep deprivation and the fear that his beloved wife has been reading his mind. Second Alibi toggles unpredictably between semi-coherent rage (Harnisch says he often writes when symptomatic) and cool detachment, and it deploys several forms: Harnisch’s sexually-charged fiction (Claudia is “a slow-moving serpent with a tongue of fire and the ass of a bombshell”); a 106-page screenplay featuring dialogues between Ben and his old antagonists, and with his life-saving therapist, “Dr. C”; self-lacerating entries from “Georgie Gust’s” 2005 diary, and the author’s clear explanations of his condition, apparently written at moments when his symptoms have subsided.

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11
Apr

#MondayMotivation April 11, 2016

Don't start your day with the broken pieces of yesterday. I am a troubled man with feelings. I am not good, but I know how to be good. I burn bridges and build better ones. I can’t make my mind up because my mental landscape is full if wondrous things! I can love, and I am learning to be in love with myself. I don't know how to trust, but I trust I am alive. I make more mistakes than I should so I am continually learning. I am always sorry, and I always forgive myself. I never change and yet I feel changes. I am afraid of letting anyone else in my life too close and yet I find I'm not running away because I am curious. The door to my life is open because I am genuine and authentic and real. People will come and go, and I am blessed that I have known them. The door is too big for it to be blocked by anything that wants to flow free, and the current of life that goes through it pulls with it all its uncertainty.

Watch Now:
11
Apr

Schizophrenic Sunday April 10 2016

Just let me vent for a sec. I am a troubled man with feelings. I am not good, but I know how to be good. I burn bridges and build better ones. I can’t make my mind up because my mental landscape is full if wondrous things! I can love, and I am learning to be in love with myself. I don't know how to trust, but I trust I am alive. I make more mistakes than I should so I am continually learning. I am always sorry, and I always forgive myself. I never change and yet I feel changes. I am afraid of letting anyone else in my life too close and yet I find I'm not running away because I am curious. The door to my life is open because I am genuine and authentic and real. People will come and go, and I am blessed that I have known them. The door is too big for it to be blocked by anything that wants to flow free, and the current of life that goes through it pulls with it all its uncertainty.

Watch Now:
10
Apr

Schizophrenia Saturday April 9 2016

I am a troubled man with feelings. I am not good, but I know how to be good. I burn bridges and build better ones. I can’t make my mind up because my mental landscape is full if wondrous things! I can love, and I am learning to be in love with myself. I don't know how to trust, but I trust I am alive. I make more mistakes than I should so I am continually learning. I am always sorry, and I always forgive myself. I never change and yet I feel changes. I am afraid of letting anyone else in my life too close and yet I find I'm not running away because I am curious. The door to my life is open because I am genuine and authentic and real. People will come and go, and I am blessed that I have known them. The door is too big for it to be blocked by anything that wants to flow free, and the current of life that goes through it pulls with it all its uncertainty.

Watch Now:
9
Apr

Lover in the Nobody [Leprechaun Podcast]

A young man battling extreme mental illness brings his sadomasochistic fantasies to life in Harnisch's (Sex, Drugs, and Schizophrenia, 2014, etc.) latest novel....The novel plunges readers into the mind of a man at war with its own urges, memories, and sexual obsessions... Despite the garishness, brutality, and squalor of many passages ... sophisticated readers will appreciate the extraordinary feat Harnisch has accomplished.... An extraordinary, harrowing odyssey into an embattled self, full of humor, compassion, and a rare understanding of mental illness. -Kirkus Reviews 

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9
Apr

Living Colorful Beauty [Leprechaun Podcast]

At the opening of Living Colorful Beauty, the reader is presented with two protagonists. There’s Ben, the narrator of the preface, who relates the story of the awful sex education classes he sat through in middle school and of his subsequent discovery of his father’s collection of pornography; and then there’s Georgie, a sexual submissive with a foot fetish, who is obsessed with his beautiful and manipulative next-door neighbor Claudia. As the story progresses, however, it becomes clear that Georgie and Ben share a single three-dimensional body. Georgie is a character in a novel Ben is writing, and Ben maintains that Georgie is in fact no more than a literary device. However, it is clear almost immediately that this is not the case. Throughout his life, Ben has received a number of psychiatric diagnoses, ranging from Tourette’s Syndrome to borderline personality disorder to schizoaffective disorder, and he displays some traits of all of these. Yet amid all these diagnoses, the one thing that seems to have slipped under the radar thus far is his tendency towards emotional dissociation, which is closely related to post-traumatic stress syndrome. It is this dissociative tendency that has led Ben to create Georgie, a safe repository for the emotions and desires – primarily sexual – that Ben himself is unable to process. Initially, therefore, the life of Ben and Georgie is fairly well ordered. It is clear from the start that Ben has issues relating to women: his romantic life has been a string of broken relationships and missed opportunities, and though he needs love desperately he finds himself overcome by fear around women. Whenever this issue arises, Ben retreats into Georgie’s relationship with Claudia. Claudia is compelling, manipulative, emotionally abusive, and tremendously sensual. She controls Georgie completely, only allowing him sex at certain times, alternately telling him she loves him and that she couldn’t care less about him, telling him she won’t sleep with him and then inviting him to watch her sleep with other men and other women. Yet Georgie is inextricably drawn to her, accepting all of the emotional pain that comes with his relationship with her as long as he can continue to hope that she may sleep with him again. The sex they share is gritty and fetish-laden, with strong overtones of sadomasochism and violence, and their relationship itself is sustained entirely by Georgie’s obsession. Yet he is unable to let Claudia go. Similarly, Ben claims that Georgie’s relationship with Claudia is based on his own relationship with Heidi – yet as the story progresses, we learn that Heidi is a lesbian whom Ben met once some months ago when she was in town for a conference, and that after one night, she left town and Ben had never heard from her again. In Ben’s relationship with Heidi, mirrored in his imagining of Georgie’s relationship with Claudia, it is clear that his interest is not in Heidi but rather in the image of Heidi, which, in the absence of the real Heidi, Ben can mold into whatever he needs her to be. Heidi is the locus of Ben’s obsession, as Claudia is the locus of Georgie’s; however, the root of these obsessive tendencies lies somewhere else entirely.
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9
Apr

When We Were Invincible [Leprechaun Podcast]

A boarding school student with Tourette's syndrome looks for the meaning of life in this offbeat novella. This is recommended to fans of Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. When We Were Invincible details the experiences of Georgie Gust at the fictional St. Michael’s Academy, a prestigious East Coast boarding school. In the vein of Catcher in the Rye, the novella focuses on Georgie’s sense of isolation and feelings of otherness as he navigates his world while suffering from Tourette’s Syndrome and early onset schizophrenia. Although the two disorders set Georgie apart from the rest of his classmates, they do not deter Claudia from pursuing a relationship with him. Seeing Georgie as more than a series of tics, Claudia recognizes him for the unconventional intellectual that he is, and together they explore a number of theological and philosophical questions that defy neat and simple answers. Nevertheless, Georgie and Claudia’s encounters, whether they take place wandering illicitly off campus at night, through letters and emails, or simply in the hallways and classrooms of their school, have the power to change them both forever.
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