Dr. Mark Vonnegut on His Mental Illness, Medical Career and Famous Name

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What is mental illness, and what causes it? Can it be mere stress? Recreational drug use? A cheating girlfriend? A vitamin imbalance?

Mark Vonnegut proposed all these possibilities in his 1975 bestseller “The Eden Express.” A memoir of counter-culture, coming of age, and living with schizophrenia, The New York Times said it was "required reading for those who want to understand insanity from the inside."

But in his new book, “Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness, Only More So,” Vonnegut’s views on his mental illness have changed slightly. For one, he’s not so sure he was ever schizophrenic.

A respected physician, graduate of Harvard medical school, and son of the late Kurt Vonnegut, Dr. Mark Vonnegut joins us from Boston.

Comments [1]

Ridahoan from Idaho

Interesting, but as a side note I think you are mistaken about Ken Kesey's interpretation of mental illness as a 'sane response to an insane world.' I don't think Kesey thought the world insane, nor that insanity was an appropriate response. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, the protagonist McMurphy is not insane, but using the asylum as a means to escape prison. Perhaps Chief is a closer match, but his catatonic behavior is not romanticized by Kesey but seen as a weakness that McMurphy helps overcome.

Perhaps you were thinking of someone more tolerant of human weakness than Kesey....

Oct. 27 2010 10:47 PM

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