Ishmael Seaward's Reviews > Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So

Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So by Mark Vonnegut
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Feb 12, 12

Read in February, 2012

Definitely a fascinating, funny, and encouraging book. At the time of writing, Mark has had 4 psychotic breaks. Three came close together, in his twenties. After the third break, his life stabilizes, he goes through pre-med, then gets accepted into Harvard Medical School at the advanced age of 29. Completes training, residency, and gets on the staff of Boston General, in pediatrics. His life is moving forward and he is on the verge of being recognized as one of Boston's best pediatricians when the combination of Xanax and alcohol finally lead to a fourth break and AA. He manages to return to sanity and sobriety and his medical profession, remarries, and has a son with his new wife.

Throughout the book, he lambastes the current method of delivering medical care, where insurance companies tell doctors what they can and can't do, not their experience or knowledge. The hospital used to take phone calls from worried parents and give them advice over the phone, free. It prevented a lot of unnecessary ER visits. But of course the administrators felt it was opening the door for lawsuits, so that had to stop. Consequently ER visits for non-emergency situations goes up. As Mark points out, it was an administrative solution to an administrative problem; i.e., the decision had nothing to do with practicing good medicine.

"My generation should be given credit for proving beyond all shadow of doubt that drugs are bad for you." Much of the book is interwoven with his experience with alcohol and drugs, some to deal with psychosis, some to deal with anxiety, some to deal with sleep.

"It is not as if a Russian bear is talking to you. It IS a Russian bear that is talking to you." This is a quote from his fourth break, which is clearly fresh in his memory. It became clear to me that Mark and others like him do actually live in another world, very different from our own normal every day experience.

"It's probably possible to gain humility by means other than repeated humiliation, but repeated humiliation works quite well." Also from his fourth break.

One of my lessons learned from this book is that psychoses are treatable, that people can make a full recovery, and return to full productive lives. The last sentence in this book: "I love finding out what happens next."
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Edmund Davis-Quinn The overuse of the ER is very sad.


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