Tom Harrell
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My professor who was my advisor in college introduced me to Tom Harrell through an article in his Stanford University alumni magazine.  If you were to know Tom only by his music, you would never know his disorder.  But seeing him perform live and observing his demeanor would give you a clue about Tom's interpersonal world.  Constance Casey put it this way, "His appearance unnerves people, even as their hearts go out to him.  He's aware of the the discomfort that disperses only when he is playing shimmering music.  He once apologized to an audience, "I'm sorry I'm not a more charismatic figure.""

But to listen to his music is another experience altogether as this clip shows.


That Tom is extraordinarily talented should not be surprising to those familiar with schizophrenia.  Just like any other population there are those who are extremely gifted as well as those who suffer from developmental disabilities.  Schizophrenia is not confined to the domain of crazed killers and monsters, nor is it the exclusive domain of extraordinarily talented artists.  It is a peculiar condition that affects a portion of a person's ability to engage their world.  That Tom Harrell possess unique talents at the same time he happens to suffer from schizophrenia is a fluke of nature.  Just like John Nash of "Beautiful Mind" notoriety, Tom is both blessed and cursed.  That he not only succeeds but excels in an artistic career should give us pause to rethink the stereotypes that we use to view the disease of schizophrenia.

Ponder the realities of his paradoxical situation as you enjoy another video.  Then try to separate the disease from the talent.  They do co-exist as Tom so aptly shows.


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Last modified: 05/25/08