Good morning! I made this short film to express my current feelings this morning w/ #schizophrenia and detox off of benzodiazepines for the first time since 1988 when I was 12. As a user, I developed a tolerance to benzodiazepines, or benzos, after taking high doses for 28 years. My capacity to endure continued subjection to clonazepam became stronger; and I needed higher doses of it to feel its effects over the years. Gradually I've reduced my dosage from 20 mg per day prescribed in 2002, to just 1 mg now. I have been titrating down under doctor supervision, withdrawal symptoms began to emerge, I breathe into the uncomfortable feelings and sensations, even drastically changing moods, anger, bliss, and Madness (the title of my small film.)
Withdrawal symptoms affect most people who were prescribed benzodiazepines as much as those who were abusing them without a prescription. Many doctors are hesitant to prescribe benzodiazepines for long-term use because of their addictive nature and intense withdrawal symptoms. But that was long ago. Thank you for your support. I detail Klonopin dependency in my literature, primarily in Sex Drugs, and Schizophrenia, and I have faith that I am stronger than Klonopin; it's a real killer, and I want to live! I am proud my efforts have paid off so far well into the detox. I've got this!
-- Jonathan Harnisch
I don't want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.
-- William Monahan The Departed/Screenplay
-- Jonathan Harnisch
Please allow me to introduce my novel--Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography—a fictional memoir based on my own experience of dealing with schizoaffective disorder and post-traumatic stress.
“No, Ben. What I’m asking is: Are you the vehicle, and Georgie rides around in you? That is why Ben’s the driver, right?”
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.
As its title suggests, Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography is actually based on my own experiences as a person diagnosed with a comorbid schizoaffective spectrum condition. Ben and Georgie and Claudia were/are all part of my past, part of what has led to my becoming a writer. Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography represents my first manuscript of appreciable length. Its target audience is adult readers who enjoy the transgressive style that best depicts the intricacies of a mentally ill mind. Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography weighs in at roughly 250,000 words and is fully complete.
How simple it is to see that we can only be happy now, and that there will never be a time when it is not now. Would I trade my comorbid schizoaffective spectrum condition? No way. Never. Too many gifts, like Georgie Gust and Claudia Nesbitt, come along with it.
Literary Fiction, Erotica, Fragmented Fiction
Harnisch (Second Alibi, 2014, etc.) offers a novel that investigates the fractured mind of a schizophrenic.
"Let's get the facts straight up front, to avoid any confusion later," the author states at the start of this wild, candid book. "I am a person first, a human being, just like anyone else. Maybe a little different, that's all." That difference is a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and this extensive work explores the realities of mental illness through a whirlwind of fictional, narrative pieces and personal reflections. Along the way, it takes readers to places of depravity and confusion. Its characters include Ben Schreiber, a precocious but mentally ill youngster in Armani jeans, who explains his troubled life to the ever-calm Dr. C, after trying to rob a bank with a cellphone. Schreiber discusses his alter ego, Georgie Gust, a masochist and foot-fetishist, who's wealthy enough to pay his neighbor Claudia to torture him; indeed, he seems capable of enduring any type of humiliation, so long as it doesn't involve actually working. The first-person narrator regularly interrupts the proceedings to offer generally off-topic details: "(Parenthetical Pet Peeve) Commercials for unappetizing products shown at meal times...feminine hygiene products, jock itch, yeast infections, etc." The scattered narrative uses diverse literary mechanisms, to say the least, mixing elements such as journal entries, a screenplay, a straightforward melodrama involving a Tourette's sufferer at a private school, occasional celebrity name-dropping ("I met Joanna Cassidy, Dick Van Dyke, Robert Downey Jr, Mel Gibson, and others"), and a dapper figure named John Marshal, who, when asked his opinion of a party, responds, "I'd scarcely be a good judge of that.... My life is taken up with writing." Making sense of it all in any traditional way, it would seem, isn't really the point. From horrific scenes of child abuse ("She did. She raped me. My grandmother") to glimpses of triumph ("I can start taking control of my life"), this long book's many scenes of anguish and hope are difficult to take in, by any estimation. Whether readers will find the difficulty worthwhile depends largely on their tolerance for twisted tales.
**Due to content of a sexually explicit nature, this book is recommended for a mature audience only.**
The Library of Social Science is organizing the book exhibit for the 15th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis (ISPS-US), October 28-30 at Boston University. They have researched the field and discovered my epic psychosexual odyssey, Sex, Drugs, and Schizophrenia and have asked me if they may exhibit my book at ISPS-US. Of course, I said yes. ISPS champions the application of psychoanalysis, cognitive-behavioral and related individual, family and group therapies, in contrast to the current reliance on medication to treat psychotic disorders. Their rich conference brings together mental health professionals--psychologists, psychiatrists, and nurses--as well as service users and their families. Topics discussed include all schools and methods of psychotherapy; drama, art and music therapy; psychotherapy's interaction with genetics and neurology; the realities of those who have experienced psychosis; and phenomenology and society. This promises to be the most exciting psychology-and psychotherapy-related conference of the year--one publishers cannot afford to miss!