June 16, 2016
BENJAMIN (BEN, BENJY) SCHREIBER has Tourette’s syndrome, which causes him to display uncontrollable tics and hops, and to stutter and swear inappropriately. He is bullied through his school years and can never form firm friendships, especially with women. He is simply incapable of happiness. In his late twenties, he plunges into a downward spiral of drug and alcohol abuse, which 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 Ben’s affliction as 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 but 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. Ben is desperately searching for someone —Claudia Nesbitt as the Perfect Woman—who will provide him the unconditional love that he never received as a boy. He finds it easier to retreat into his mind to share Georgie’s sick obsession with Georgie’s 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 Ben’s childhood and that he uses Georgie as an escape when 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 the writer Ben wants him to be.
Envision a blend of a mentally ill mind with unsurpassed resiliency and fiery intellect and your result would be the brilliant Jonathan Harnisch. An all-around artist, Jonathan writes fiction and screenplays, sketches, imagines, and creates. Produced filmmaker, fine artist, musician, and published erotica author, Jonathan holds myriad accolades, and his works captivate the attention of those who experience it. Manic-toned scripts with parallel lives, masochistic tendencies in sexual escapades, and disturbing clarities embellished with addiction, fetish, lust, and love, are just a taste of themes found in Jonathan's transgressive literature. Conversely, his award-winning films capture the ironies of life, love, self-acceptance, tragedy and fantasy. Jonathan's art evokes laughter and shock, elation and sadness, but overall forces you to step back and question your own version of reality. Scripts, screenplays, and schizophrenia are defining factors of Jonathan's life and reality - but surface labels are often incomplete. Jonathan is diagnosed with several mental illnesses from schizoaffective disorder to Tourette's syndrome; playfully, he dubs himself the "King of Mental Illness." Despite daily symptomatic struggles and thoughts, Jonathan radiates an authentic, effervescent, and loving spirit. His resiliency emanates from the greatest lesson he's learned: laughter. His diagnoses and life experiences encourage him to laugh at reality as others see it. Wildly eccentric, open-minded, passionate and driven, Jonathan has a feral imagination. His inherent traits transpose to his art, making his works some of the most original and thought-provoking of modern day. Jonathan Harnisch's struggles with his mental health conditions are interlinked with the incomprehension of non-sufferers, which provokes him to explain his reality. He has explored a range of media, including film, music, and now the written word, to help the general public understand exactly what it feels like to suffer from schizophrenia. By fictionalizing the day-to-day meetings of multiple personalities, he is illuminating a corner of psychiatry that few understand. As an author with schizophrenia, Jonathan Harnisch is ideally placed to share the unusual perception commonly defined as 'mental illness'. Harnisch is not dealing with an altered reality, but a double reality. His main characters, Ben Schreiber and Georgie Gust, perfectly illustrate how two lives can share the same body.