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Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  2,131 ratings  ·  290 reviews
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
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published October 5th 2010 by Delacorte Press
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Average rating 3.74  · 
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Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What would you expect to find by reading this no-holds barred account of excelling in family medical practice as a respected American paediatrician?

Well, you Should only expect to find the unexpected! For you may find yourself faced with an utter anomaly.

Mark Vonnegut’s that anomaly. After all, if you yourself have at any point of your life gone more than slightly bananas and suffered medical confinement for it, you’re FOR SURE gonna see life - and be seen by others - differently!

Especially if
Nov 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
I bought this book for my son who loves Kurt Vonnegut, has bi-polar disorder and is in med school. He finished it in a little over a day (without sacrificing his studies) and promptly bought a copy for me and my husband (also bi-polar). I was concurrently scared and hopeful as I read Vonnegut's account of his disease. Living with the disease in my household, I still don't understand what's going on most of the time. I appreciated the author's assertion that most people do not realize the heroism ...more
Kressel Housman
Jun 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
In the 1960’s, Mark Vonnegut, son of iconic author Kurt Vonnegut Jr., went to British Columbia to start a commune. He dropped a lot of acid, went crazy, and ended up on the psych ward getting electro-shock treatment and Thorazine. His first memoir, The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity chronicles all that.

After the book was published, Mark recovered well enough to get into Harvard Medical School and is a practicing pediatrician till today. That may sound like a happy ending, but no life wraps
Susan (aka Just My Op)
If your child were sick, would you choose a 60+-year old pediatrician who is a former commune-starting hippie, is the son of a famous author, came from a somewhat dysfunctional childhood, got into Harvard Medical School despite poor grades, and most important of all, is certifiably crazy? I think I would. I believe that if I were to meet him, I would really like and trust this guy.

Mark Vonnegut first wrote about his battle with mental illness in a 1975 book, The Eden Express. This followup came
Nov 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
my rating is horribly harsh. so sorry, mark vonnegut. it's just that your memoir tells me nothing. it tells me a bit of what it's like to be psychotic, but that's not hard-to-get knowledge. it also tells me a bit about what it's like to have been a doctor before and after the advent of managed care. that's easy-to-get knowledge too. it tells me a little bit about kurt vonnegut and being his son, but i am not very interested in that (a kurt vonnegut fan might be, but she might want to be warned ...more
Oct 19, 2010 rated it liked it
A book with no segues.

I'm not sure if it's just Mark Vonnegut's style, or if this indicative of someone living with mental illness, but the writing had this staccato quality. Ideas jumped from one paragraph to the next. There would be sentences in the middle of paragraphs that didn't seem to connect to much around it.

It's kind of like the old-timey comedians whose routines were:
Set-up, Punchline, Laughter...Set-up, Punchline, Laughter... lather, rinse, repeat. Except this book isn't exactly
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
Strong first two thirds, wandering last third. Powerful description of psychosis and the slide into it. Having finished it, I still flipped back and reread page 48 because it's honest and beautiful.

p. 47-48
"Part of getting better from being crazy included the realization that my life might be a lot longer than I had thought and that I probably wasn't going to get out of anything by having the world end of Western civilization collapse.
It was too bad I was twenty-five, hadn't taken the right
Oct 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing. Mark Vonnegut is Kurt Vonnegut's son. He has what has been diagnosed as bipolar disorder. After 3 psychotic breaks in early adulthood requiring hospitalizations, he thought, "What did I want to be before all this happened?" His answer-- a doctor. He applied to 20 medical schools and was rejected by all but one-- Harvard. He's now 62, a pediatrician, a husband and dad, and the author of two books, including this remarkable, clear and authentic memoir. I love books that ...more
Sep 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
There are certain books you read during your life that stick with you. For me, one of those is one I first read while still in college, Mark Vonnegut's The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity . First published in 1975 (and reissued in 2002), the book is a frank and compelling story of a young man's descent into schizophrenia and his recovery from it.

In the introduction to that book, Vonnegut, the son of author Kurt Vonnegut, described himself as "a hippie, a son of a counterculture hero, a B.A.
Apr 24, 2011 rated it liked it
This is a nice little romp through the life of Kurt Vonnegut’s son Mark. He was diagnosed with Schizophrenia in 1971 when he had three psychotic breaks in a short amount of time. He didn’t have his fourth break until 14 years later. In those 14 years he managed to get accepted to Harvard medical school and become a pediatrician. Not bad.

The book covers topics like mental illness and addiction, but not as extensively as it might seem from the title. The bulk of the focus is on what’s wrong with
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mental-health
Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So is certainly not a perfect book. The premise is different from what is actually delivered and the writing style is jumpy. However, I liked all that. I felt like the jumpy writing style was either an intentional choice, echoing the thought process in psychotic and manic episodes, or something that was a result of those episodes and had just become second nature to Vonnegut (I am probably wrong). Either way, it felt like a great way to gain ...more
Mar 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
I was living on a commune...yadda yadda yadda...woke up in a mental institution. Squirrels gather nuts.I became a doctor before health insurance. I went to Harvard. Trees have leaves. My dad was a weird guy. Heard voices. Had my second break.

This is what it's like to read this book. Completely disjointed, never giving a clear description about anything. In fact, the clearest he got was writing about being a pediatrician before managed health care- but the book isn't call "Just like someone
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Mark Vonnegut seems like a lovely man and there are a selection of well articulated insights into living with bipolar in this book. Overall though, I feel it was a bit like someone's description of a random dream they had-lacking in coherent narrative structure and deeply tedious. It's 80% tangents, and the most interesting one is about mushrooms. Good on him for writing it though. I feel encouraged to be comfortably ordinary.
Feb 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Maybe we're not really hearing voices but certainly we all know what it's like to be out of synch with the world.

Vonnegut's book is written in that slightly out-of-focus way--as the title says--"like someone without mental illness only more so". His wry observations illuminate how anyone, diagnosed-and-labeled or not, struggles to make sense of and be sensible about being alive.

The necessity of the arts to survival ("the arts are not extra") and how they add fullness and magic and mystery to
Mar 22, 2018 rated it liked it
I was drawn to this memoir because I am in awe of those who can build flourishing lives when they have serious health problems. Suffering from both bipolar disorder and alcoholism, Mark Vonnegut managed to become an accomplished paediatrician, father, husband, and writer. Impressed!

And yet. He writes of his life as if he is looking at himself from afar, studying a specimen of a strange species, holding himself at arm’s length. You get the idea that he is mystified by his life path; he talks
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a very interesting book. One would think that a book addressing mental illness would be very - well - depressing. On the contrary this is a very engaging, entertaining, sometimes tongue in cheek writing. Somewhat autobiographical, the author comes from an interesting family with its own history of mental illness (yes, he is the son of Kurt Vonnegut). Because he is also a pediatrician, there are also some real jewels in here about being a doctor. The writing style is popcorn style ...more
Oct 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
It's amazing how someone with a serious history of mental illness that Mark Vonnegut had could go on to doing what he does today as a doctor. This book has a lot of subject matter that was never covered in "Eden Express," and it's a book that picks up where "Eden Express" left off. His struggles with the medical industry, his alcoholism, his ex-wife, his children, his father, and his thoughts on looking back at his Harvard education questioning how he made it there. With a touch of his father's ...more
Jun 15, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, psych
Books like these help people understand what it's like to cope with mental illness. And as the author writes, "A world without prejudice, stigma, and discrimination against those who have or are thought to have mental illness would be a better world for everyone."
Cara Hinton
Sep 22, 2018 rated it liked it
A very interesting read about Mark's childhood and struggles with mental illness and alcoholism. Very open and honest, and I learned a lot about his family that I didn't know, that was the most interesting part of this book. Of course having a famous father is one thing, but to take in 4 orphans when your aunt and uncle die 1 day apart! That is life changing and has a lot of impact on your life.
I had hoped the book would dive deeper into the feelings and thoughts about the various issues in his
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
A disjointed and/but?? enjoyable series of glimpses into the fascinating life of Mark Vonnegut, a son, pediatrician, and patient with bipolar disorder. I will definitely add this to my bookshelf in my office for patients to peruse.
Mary Blye Kramer
Dec 05, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5. Vonnegut is a good writer and the book was interesting but it was a lot to cram into a single book. Meanderings about his dad, his marriage, medical school, and of course his psychotic breakdowns. He’s the doc but it sure sounds to me like his doctors’ diagnosis was right and that he’s schizophrenic. Vonnegut tries to gloss over his almost hidden statement that someone who hears voices once will always hear them, and he downplays mental illness by saying “everyone” has it. The book needed ...more
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mark Vonnegut was the son of Kurt Vonnegut. Kurt was a miserable man who took pleasure in humiliating...the more public the better. Mark was one of his favorite targets. This and the mental illness in his family from both sides were the backdrops of his childhood. He seemed to find it all interesting but at times humiliating and painful. He didn't seem to think that it could be him one day. He had his first episode when he was a teenager and was then diagnosed with schizophrenia. With his second ...more
Sep 20, 2012 added it
Shelves: in-library Review

Mark Vonnegut on Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So

I wrote Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So because I was increasingly annoyed with my younger self, who had wrapped up everything with a bow. You can try but you don’t just get to get over mental illness at age twenty-five, go to medical school, write a book, get married and call it a wrap.

In the seventies I was in so in love with the medical model I almost thought I had invented it. "No

Overall this is a good book. Interesting (I finished it within four days) informative, and even though this is a much overused term, insightful. There were moments when I couldn't quite "get" some of the side comments, almost like they were inside jokes that turned into puzzles I had to refelct on to figure out, but I was still able to appreciate his humor. This wit was weaved throughout his account, and my favorite example of this is when he said his father gave he and his family code names in ...more
Shivanee Ramlochan
Excerpted from the full review:

"I’m fully prepared to be wrong here, but I suspect that high on the lists of why people gravitate towards reading memoir is because they anticipate a certain unflinchingness in articulation. They expect, oft-erroneously, that if a person’s got the testicular/cervical fortitude to put themselves out in the limelight, then, by gad, they’re going to write with moxy, with aplomb, with some brass! I’m pleased to report that Mark Vonnegut’s got all three. Even though I’
Feb 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
This memoir is all over the map when it comes to Mark Vonnegut's life. In it, he intermittently discusses his relationship with his father, his career as a pediatrician, his experiences as a child and young adult, and (of course) his experiences with mental illness. It is written in relatively short vignettes without much in the way of an overarching story. Reading Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness... is more like listening to a friend reminisce about whatever comes into his mind rather ...more
Mark Vonnegut’s literary voice sounds much like that of his father, Kurt Vonnegut. He clearly inherited some of the same sense of humor and picked up some of his father’s particular vernacular, while having a style all his own. I picked up this book after it was mentioned in the biography And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life by Charles Shields. I wanted to learn more about Mark, as he seemed to be a free spirited adventurer with his own dark sides to battle.

However, I was unable to finish the
Oct 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Mark Vonnegut's courageous and raw memoir recounting his battles with bipolar disease is inspiring as well as informative. With a spare and biting writing style reminiscent of his late father Kurt, Dr. Vonnegut pulls no punches in his indictment of a "health care" industry that barely covers those affected with mental illness, and one that has replaced the old-fashioned healing touch with mandated quality initiatives quantified by reams of burdensome paperwork.
The strength of the book is in
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
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Oct 26, 2013 rated it really liked it

Written in entertaining short segments (just like dad), this is the other bookend to Eden Express, where we get to find out what happened to the hippie, schizophrenic pediatrician with the famous father. The book isn't a masterpiece like his first book -- it's reflective, rather than raw -- the book of a 60 year old, who has lived through another 30 productive years of mental maintenance, illness, alcoholism and health.

The two books should be slip-cased together and given to anyone wants to
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Mark Twain Vonnegut is an American pediatrician and memoirist. He is the son of the late writer Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. and his first wife, Jane Cox. He is also the brother of Edith and Nanette Vonnegut. He described himself in the preface to his 1975 book as "a hippie, son of a counterculture hero, B.A. in religion, (with a) genetic disposition to schizophrenia."
“With mental illness the trick is to not take your feelings so seriously; you’re zooming in and zooming away from things that go from being too important to being not important at all.” 17 likes
“The biggest gift of being unambiguously mentally ill is the time I've saved myself trying to be normal.” 10 likes
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