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Analyzing Mental Illness

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A medical landscape is rapidly evolving

By Kirsten Peters

 Parts of medical science are highly developed areas where doctors can precisely nail down specific diseases and even sometimes eradicate them.
The more vexing – and perhaps more interesting – pieces of medical science are those in which we still struggle to diagnose, let alone fully treat, major maladies.
Mark Vonnegut, M.D., the son of famous writer Kurt Vonnegut, has a first-hand knowledge of the challenging kind of illness where modern medical science is quite limited. Vonnegut-the-younger has recently written about his personal, lifelong tour of major mental illness.
Dr. Vonnegut has had several, full psychotic breaks in his adult life. In between times of the deepest illness, he also attended Harvard Medical School and built a successful medical practice in pediatrics.
You can read his newly published memoir, which is at times achingly funny. Just to give you a flavor of the book, it has the title “Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So.”
If you have friends or relatives dealing with chronic mental illness, the book might be of interest in helping you understand one man’s journey through the landscape where the doctors are sometimes at a loss to successfully predict or usefully treat disease.


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