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David E. Geiger : In the Matter of Edwin Potter mental Illness and Criminal Justice Reform | London Book Interview

If you could go back, and wipe your memory of a book just to relive the excitement and thrill of reading it for the first time, this book would be it. This is not a mere survey; David Geiger offers unique research and solutions to mental illnesses like schizophrenia.

David Geiger is a native of New Jersey where he still resides and is married with three grown children. He is an electrical engineer with a baccalaureate degree with honors and a master’s degree from Steven’s Institute of Technology. He has a professional license from the State of New Jersey and worked in New York City for twenty years as an engineer with Con Edison.  And he still has schizophrenia which has been in full remission, meaning symptom-free, since 2001.

1. Edwin Potter’s character is controversial. What do you wish your readers to feel toward him?

Something that I never considered as I set out to write the book was public reception. I was a Boy Scout, an Eagle, a model citizen. I went to both high school and college on scholarships, and I was rewarded with high honors. I received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Marquis Who’s Who. I thought that everybody could work at this level. And so much more.

But as I sat in the courtroom waiting for the trial for murder to begin, all of that meant nothing. The issues were mental illness and guilt. I needed people to understand that schizophrenia is an illness that requires treatment, and public understanding was not that far along.

2. What important advice could you give to victims of schizophrenia and the family living with someone with schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is an illness requiring treatment, not a jail cell.

3. Your book tackles schizophrenia. Why did you choose this subject as one of the highlights of your book?

I chose schizophrenia as a highlight of my book because the story cannot be told without it. Schizophrenia is a cause – the cause – of Edwin’s early actions. It is a cause for his deranged thinking, and its effects motivate the legal system and the community to take their own actions, wrong though they may be.

4. What challenges did you face writing the main character?

The hard part is being honest with yourself. How do you strongly criticize the ignorance of the people who helped you the most? How do you confess your love for people who are forbidden to express their feelings for you? True story.

5. Can you give us insights into what makes Edwin Potter’s case unique?

What is not unique about Edwin Potter is that he is a loner – has been and will be. It is how he gets through the day.

What is unique about him is that he cannot relate to people because he is at the genius level, belonging to the top one percent of the population (Triple Nine Society) on standard IQ tests. (Mensa members are at the top two percent so there is a problem there as well.) He does not fit in. He excels at everything he does, and people just do not relate well to that.

6. What are the chances that the symptoms of schizophrenia will stop?

The chances that the symptoms of schizophrenia will stop on their own are slim to none. However, the FDA held a conference on November 2, 2022, at the prompting of the advocacy group Schizophrenia and Psychosis Action Alliance (S&PAA). Its purpose was to develop more effective medical treatment and therapies. I was a part of that conference telling my story. The S&PAA is writing a report titled “The Voice of the Patient.” We are currently waiting for that (202301).

7. What do you wish for your readers to gain after reading this book?

I would like to see my readers gain an understanding of mental illness and the hatred the individuals endure from society – especially the criminal justice system.

8. In the Matter of Edwin Potter is a controversial book. How do you handle negative reviews about it?

I think it is good that IMOEP is controversial as long as people don’t go out and kill each other over it. I am surprised that I had very few, if any, negative reviews. My reviewers were very supportive in every way. I am sure time will show us the truth.

9. What changes do you hope to bring about in the Criminal Justice System for those with mental illness?

From the book IMOEP: The typical prison inmate does not have the skills necessary to succeed in accepted society. That is the problem. What do we do? We need to teach them: reading, writing, arithmetic, social skills, job skills, language skills. They need mentors, housing, help with their substance abuse, and a change in the laws that keep them from taking part in society. The mentally ill have a different set of problems that cannot be fixed by throwing them into prison. Schizophrenia, for example, is a neurological problem, a spectrum illness much like autism. They don’t throw people with autism into prison as medical treatment. Why those with schizophrenia? Having mental illness is not a crime any more than having heart disease or diabetes are crimes. It needs medical research.

10. What makes you qualified to tell the story?

I am qualified to tell Edwin’s story because it is an autobiography. It is my story.

Get this book on Amazon. Grab your own copy now!

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