About Porcelain Utopia

November 4, 2012



-From the Henry James’s novel The Portrait of a Lady.

The worldly Madame Merle, a collector of antique porcelain, describes herself in the following passage:

“It’s very true; there are more iron pots, I think, than porcelain ones. But you may depend upon it that every one has something; even the hardest iron pots have a little bruise, a little hole, somewhere. I flatter myself that I am rather stout porcelain; but if I must tell you the truth I have been chipped and cracked! I do very well for service yet, because I have been cleverly mended; and I try to remain in the cupboard—the quiet, dusky cupboard, where there is an odor of stale spices—as much as I can. But when I have to come out, and into a strong light, then, my dear, I am a horror!”


…simply stated, an ideal place.



Jonathan Harnisch

In 2011, author, producer and screenwriter Jonathan W. Harnisch has announced the launch of his website “Porcelain Utopia” where he chronicles his day-to-day struggles with schizophrenia and Tourette’s syndrome. Using art as his therapeutic medium, Jonathan wields humor and unrelenting honesty to expose the reality of living with such devastating diagnoses in the hope of eradicating the stigma of mental illness.

Jonathan has designed a media-rich website, where he hopes others affected by mental illness can connect with one another and begin to replace secrecy and shame with truth and acceptance.

Initially diagnosed with depression in 1994 at the age of 18, Jonathan was prescribed antidepressants, including the newest of the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). Unfortunately, the SSRIs triggered mania, and to combat it, Jonathan began to drink, which intensified his psychological instability and led to an addiction that he was finally able to overcome when he was 26.

However, as difficult as the disorders have been, in many ways, Jonathan has been blessed. He is a gifted artist, and he has frequently used his art to exorcise his own demons of isolation and loneliness. In 1998, he dramatized those issues in his award-winning film Ten Years, which he produced, directed, and wrote while attending NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

In 2008, Jonathan once again dramatized those themes of isolation and loneliness in another award-winning film, On The Bus, which in addition explores the horrors and chaos of mental illness. Through the eyes of the main character Larry, we see the uncontrollable, tumultuous symptoms of schizophrenia and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as brought on by a random act of violence.

A single act of violence rarely causes severe mental illness. Current research indicates that mental illness is generally a result of a genetic predisposition combined with environmental factors. Jonathan’s case would seem to validate that research, as there is a history of mental illness in his family, and he has suffered repeated trauma. Whatever the genesis, beginning in 2009 and culminating in the summer of 2010, Jonathan experienced a severe psychotic break that manifested in inappropriate, violent outbursts and regnant destructive behavior. Ultimately, however, this break brought Jonathan the help he needed, including a comprehensive psychological work-up that provided an accurate diagnosis and the right medication. Now psychologically stable, he invites others to behold his candid daily encounters with the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Jonathan willingly and genuinely shares his life through his written blog, and with his iTunes podcast “The Real Me”, both easily accessible on this website. In the vein of prolific figures such as Elyn R. Saks and Kay Redfield Jamison, Jonathan illustrates his personal ongoing struggle with chronic mental illness in this supportive website that nurtures truth, acceptance, and community.

Jonathan’s art, imagination, and various creative outlets are simply his own catalyst for continuous resiliency and recovery. With the launch of his new website, he turns another engaging and uplifting page of his story. Jonathan hopes to impact others positively through his publicized journey of how one individual copes with the perpetual rollercoaster of schizophrenia and Tourette’s syndrome.  

Celebrated creative artist, Porcelain Utopia, wildly eccentric schizophrenic, accomplished writer, producer and musician, developer, blogger, and podcast host. A flair for mental illness advocacy, animal rights, New Age ideas and treatments, transgressive fiction, zines, and Duran Duran.

Jonathan Harnisch is a survivor of a rare schizophrenia spectrum disorder, PTSD, Personality Disorder-NOS, and Tourette’s syndrome. An accomplished writer, producer and musician, Jonathan is originally from New York, has lived and worked in Los Angeles, and currently resides in New Mexico with his wife on Fat Man Farms.


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