The Brutal Truth by Jonathan Harnisch

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In this slim volume of personal essays, the prolific New Mexico novelist, filmmaker and mental health advocate Jonathan Harnisch provides heart-wrenching insights into his long battle with schizophrenia. A gifted writer who has weathered seven suicide attempts and more than 30 hospitalizations, Harnisch speaks with chilling authority about "the shattered stained glass" of a disease whose terrifying hallucinations keep him from distinguishing between "what is real and what is not." As in Harnisch's earlier books--notably, his 803-page semi-autobiographical novel, Jonathan Harnisch: An Alibiography--the 40-year-old author's moods alternate between optimism ("I always do my best to keep things positive") and bleak despair ("The old me disappears as I fall deeper and deeper into oblivion"), but his goals always remain clear: to burn off "the fog of schizophrenia" and put an end to the stigma associated with mental illness, and the maltreatment of its victims. Harnisch's bio, as he relates it here, is fascinating. A privileged graduate of Choate and New York University's film school, he calls himself "an unemployed artist with a botched trust fund and a life that, in terms of conventional reality, doesn't actually exist." Also diagnosed with an array of other "comorbidities" (PTSD, Tourette's Syndrome, autism, etc.), he writes, for self-therapy, only when sleepless and symptomatic, producing the raw, anguished, truth of a survivor. In his dark mood, he tells us he is friendless and cut off from family, reduced to having philosophical conversations "with the store clerks at the Quick Fix on Maple Street"; but later, he praises his loving wife and the company of their three dogs and seven cats. What's "real?" What's imagined? In a life so troubled, we are left with few answers. But Harnisch's harrowing quest for clarity is undeniably real. Mid-book, he seems to address the demon of schizophrenia itself, with moving eloquence: "Love me, hate me, hurt me or kill me. I keep fighting."-- BlueInk Review

About Jonathan Harnisch

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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.
Published December 27, 2015 by Babydude Press. 108 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Jonathan Harnisch 30 Sep 2016

Rated the book as 5 out of 5