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Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  1,770 Ratings  ·  257 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 tha
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published October 5th 2010 by Delacorte Press
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Nov 08, 2010 Barbara 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
Nov 06, 2010 jo 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 t ...more
Kressel Housman
Jun 21, 2011 Kressel Housman 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
Oct 19, 2010 Cindy 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 fun
Sep 11, 2010 Tim 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.
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
Apr 24, 2011 Jeremy 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 t
Feb 05, 2011 Kerfe 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 li
Jul 24, 2011 Libby 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 cour
Oct 17, 2010 Brian 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
Oct 17, 2010 Jo 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 provi ...more
Sep 20, 2012 Abbe 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 Kate 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 t ...more
Oct 20, 2010 Suzanne 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 t
Oct 26, 2013 Koeeoaddi 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
Sep 30, 2011 Kitrina rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
I'm finished and I still don't know if I like this book. I loved the honesty and insightful nature of the author. At the same time, the jumpy, almost-stream-of-conscientiousness was actually tiring for me to try to follow at times. The end of the book felt more like the last chapter was missing. It just ended. In spite of this there were many chapters that were so incredibly well written i could not have put the book down if I wanted to!

I suppose my final judgement is this:
(1) Mark Vonnegut is
May 15, 2011 Wrenn1 rated it liked it
Kurk Vonnegut light. He was quirky and interesting enough that I would read more of his stuff but at the rate he is going I will be dead by time he gets around to his 3rd. I did read the first book many years ago and liked this one more or maybe liked him more.

I think if I didn't have Kurt to compare it to I might have given it more stars, which isn't really fair. I did really enjoy it and now that I am old I rarely finish a book that doesn't keep my interest so that says something.

It is possib
Nov 08, 2010 Edie rated it really liked it
A fascination read that covers Mark's life with his parents, his sense of isolation as a child (very much encouraged by his father), his interesting in saving the world (sparked by a comment from his mother when he was 10 and mentioned suicidal thoughts and she told him that instead he should try to save the world). He is very honest about his breakdowns and the "luck" in terms of treatment opportunities that helped to save him (he talks about people he knows just like him who haven't recovered) ...more
Feb 10, 2012 D rated it it was amazing
The author, Mark Vonnegut, offers a poignant, heartwarming narrative for anyone (all of us) who has or knows someone who struggles with cognition dysfunction, emotion or mood. The book draws on his early life as the son of a poor car salesman, Kurt Vonnegut, who couldn't get a job as teaching English at the Cape Code Community College. Along the way, as a pediatrician, the author offers a lucid, sympathetic account of trouble with the US health industry, outlining the dis-incentives for health * ...more
Oct 23, 2010 Kay rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011
I'm not even sure why I finished this book. It reads like those annoying people who speak cryptically to you, baiting you to ask them questions only so that they can say, "Sorry, I really am sworn to secrecy on that." Mark Vonnegut is a good writer, but in this book he doesn't say anything. He makes snide surface statements about his father & complains about the state of health care and insurance companies. But he never really reflects on anything or lends perspective to living with mental i ...more
Mar 15, 2011 Suede 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 witho
Erin Rouleau
Mar 02, 2011 Erin Rouleau rated it really liked it
I'm torn. I enjoyed reading this. It read a little too journal like to me. Sometimes I didn't follow because I didn't know where he was at, as if he was just jotting down the basic story line and would fill in the details later. I would have loved the details later, but they didn't come.

At the same time I sort of appreciated reading a general story line, I sort of liked the jumping around. I sort of liked having a general sense of his life and not being weighed down with the details.
Nov 10, 2010 Nancy rated it really liked it
A fast, entertaining read about alcoholism and mental illness????

Having recently read "Eat, Pray, Love" this book was a nice change of pace. Mark Vonnegut has a self deprecating somewhat detached style which I enjoy. His insights on mental illness and religion seem more realistic than those in "Eat, Pray, Love." But, then again, maybe they just match my own prejudices better....
Sep 05, 2011 Kim-Lost-In-A-Book rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-reads
Good. Was hoping for more of a "story" with this memoir, but it was written more in a stream of consciousness style of writing. I did find a few quotes, however, that resonated with me, and I don't feel quite so alone in my life with depression.
Apr 10, 2012 Fade rated it liked it
It's an intimate, fascinating book arranged in a staccato sort of style that I admire but found a bit frustrating to read at length. Highly recommended to the sort of people who like this sort of thing.
Jun 15, 2010 Joy 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."
Rebecca Nebesar
Jun 19, 2017 Rebecca Nebesar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved the frank story-telling of this book, and another perspective on the famous Kurt, Mark's father.
I highlighted several lines including:
"Medical care has become a lot of crust and precious little pie."
"Without art you are stuck with yourself as you are and life as you think life is."
"Introverts almost never cause me trouble and are usually much better at what they do than extroverts. Extroverts are too busy slapping one another on the back, team building, and making fun of introverts to ge
Jun 06, 2017 Dallas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mental illness as seen from a person who has it, doesn't want it, but can't deny it...for long.

An excellent book that will give hope to those with mental illness that life can be more than just trying to stay well. Also worthwhile in the field of substance abuse as he proves to himself that he is an alcoholic without trying.

Maybe it will help those who don't claim mental illness as part of their dossier, realize that the mentally ill can contribute as well. And those who do have mental illness
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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."
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“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.” 13 likes
“The biggest gift of being unambiguously mentally ill is the time I've saved myself trying to be normal.” 9 likes
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