Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So
By Mark Md Vonnegut
(Delacorte Press, Hardcover, 9780385343794, 224pp.)
Publication Date: October 5, 2010
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
More than thirty years after the publication of his acclaimed memoir The Eden Express, Mark Vonnegut continues his remarkable story in this searingly funny, iconoclastic account of coping with mental illness, finding his calling as a pediatrician, and learning that willpower isn’t nearly enough.
Here is Mark’s childhood spent as the son of a struggling writer in a house that eventually held seven children after his aunt and uncle died and left four orphans. And here is the world after Mark was released from a mental hospital to find his family forever altered. At the late age of twenty-eight—and after nineteen rejections—Mark was accepted to Harvard Medical School, where he gained purpose, a life, and some control over his condition.
The brilliantly evoked events of Mark Vonnegut’s life are at once perfectly unique and achingly relatable. There are the manic episodes, during which he felt burdened with saving the world, juxtaposed against the real-world responsibilities of running a pediatric practice. At times he felt that his parents’ lives would improve if only they had a few hundred more bucks in their bank account, while at other points his father’s fame merely heightened expectations that he be better, funnier (and crazier) than the average person.
Ultimately a tribute to the small, daily, and positive parts of a life interrupted by bipolar disorder, Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So is a wise, unsentimental, and inspiring book that will resonate with generations of readers.
Mark Vonnegut is the only son of the late Kurt Vonnegut and Jane Cox Vonnegut and the author of The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity, an ALA Notable Book. A full-time practicing pediatrician, he lives in Massachusetts with his wife and son.
"Mr. Vonnegut's book surpasses all expectations--his heartfelt effort to enlighten us about mental illness is a gift. I read in awe and recognition, to say nothing of how many times I laughed out loud. People with mental illness, their families, friends and caretakers in the world of psychiatry will learn so much and continue to be fascinated by this remarkable man."
"Mark and I both started communes in 1971, and reading his new book I feel like a hippie brother. Sharing so vulnerably his woundedness and his family’s and society's woundedness, he shows you can step out of it all, into a celebration of imperfection and a life of meaning."
--Patch Adams, M.D.
"The man who wanted to bite R.D. Laing has grown into the doctor who helps us understand how compassionate healthcare has given way to mindless bureaucracy. As a psychiatric patient and a pediatrician, he lucidly conveys his experience of psychosis, as well as the maddening effects of today's health insurance and big pharma collusions. He is uniquely qualified and positioned to show us both sides of the insanity."
-- Julie Holland, M.D., author of Weekends at Bellevue: Nine Years on the Nightshift at the Psych E.R.