Mark Vonnegut

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Mark Vonnegut
Born (1947-05-11) May 11, 1947 (age 72)
OccupationPediatrician, memoirist
Alma materSwarthmore College, (1969)
Harvard Medical School
Notable worksThe Eden Express, Just Like Mental Illness Only More So
SpouseBarbara Vonnegut
ChildrenMark Oliver Vonnegut, Zachary Vonnegut
RelativesKurt Vonnegut, Jr., Edith Vonnegut

Mark Vonnegut (born May 11, 1947) is an American pediatrician and memoirist. He is the son of writer Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. and his first wife, Jane Cox. He is the brother of Edith Vonnegut and Nanette Vonnegut. He described himself in the preface to his 1975 book as "a hippie, son of a counterculture hero, BA in religion, (with a) genetic disposition to schizophrenia."[1]:preface

Mark Vonnegut (whom his parents named after Mark Twain[2]) graduated from Swarthmore College in 1969. He briefly worked at Duthie Books and was also briefly chief of a 20-man detachment of special state police that provided the security for Boston State Hospital. During the Vietnam War, he filed an application with the draft board to be considered a conscientious objector, which was denied. After taking the psychological examination, he was given a psychiatric 4F classification and avoided conscription into the U.S. military.[1][page needed]

During his undergraduate years, he set out to become a Unitarian minister. He eventually abandoned that goal.[3]:33

He is the author of The Eden Express (1975), which describes his trip to British Columbia to set up a commune with his friends and his personal experiences with schizophrenia,[4] which at that time he attributed to stress, diet and in part, drug use. During this period, he lived mainly at the commune at Powell Lake, located 18 kilometers by boat from the nearest road or electricity. The book is widely cited as useful for those coping with schizophrenia. He married in 1975.[5] He had a son, Eli James Vonnegut (b. 1980).[6][7] On February 14, 1971, he was diagnosed with severe schizophrenia and committed to Hollywood Hospital in Vancouver.[3]:37 Standard psychotherapy did not help him, and most of his doctors said his case was hopeless.

Vonnegut first attributed his recovery to orthomolecular megavitamin therapy and then wrote The Eden Express. However, it should be pointed out that in this book, he states that "approximately a third - improve without any treatment. Whatever shrink happens to be standing around when such remissions occur is usually willing to assume credit" pg. 267. From the book, one can see that he was trying to decide if it is the therapy or the ever changing medications that are the most effective for treatment. Vonnegut does not presently attribute his recovery to vitamins. In reality, such situations take years of trial and error treatment to figure out what actually is effective treatment since the diagnostic tools are based on statistics (a group of symptoms and how long they last and what is the age of the patient), making them inherently weak on predictability. This is made worse given the short duration of any treatment because of the prohibitive costs of longer term productive treatment. He subsequently studied medicine at Harvard Medical School and later came to the conclusion that he actually had bipolar disorder.[8] Dr. Vonnegut, despite odds against him, graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1979. After graduation, Dr. Vonnegut completed a pediatric Internship and Residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Vonnegut published an article in The New England Journal of Medicine December 27, 2007 and has published several short pieces on pediatrics and other topics in The Boston Globe and The Patriot Ledger. He has served on the National Institute for Health Consensus Conference on ADHD since November 1999. Dr. Vonnegut wrote The Eden Express which was first published in 1975 and re-published in 2002. His new book, Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So, was published October 5, 2010. He has practiced pediatrics for over 30 years, opening his own practice, M.V. Pediatrics, in 2001. Dr. Vonnegut respects the parents’ right to choose what is best for their children, and will support parents' decisions. His practice discourages psychiatric medication use in children, and instead offers therapy via social workers, reiki, yoga, and acupuncture. He is currently a pediatrician in Quincy, Massachusetts.[9]

Vonnegut published his second book, Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So, in 2010.[10] Like The Eden Express, it is autobiographical.[11]


  1. ^ a b Vonnegut, Mark (1975). The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity. ISBN 1-58322-543-9.
  2. ^ Vonnegut, Kurt (July 7, 1979), "The Necessary Miracle", The Nation, retrieved December 6, 2010.
  3. ^ a b Vonnegut, Mark (2010). Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So. Delacorte Press. ISBN 978-0-385-34379-4.
  4. ^
  5. ^,,20065819,00.html
  6. ^ WEDDINGS/CELEBRATIONS; Lydon Friedrich, Eli Vonnegut
  7. ^[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Vonnegut, Mark. Mark Vonnegut Speaks at Convention, NAMI, May 17, 2003. archived version, February 18, 2010.
  9. ^ Vonnegut, Mark. "A Few Thoughts From Dr. Vonnegut"., Accessed online, December 4, 2010.
  10. ^
  11. ^

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