This book is decent, but much more existential, and less thorough than Sacks's other works. I highly recommend you check out his book "Hallucinations" instead.
Fascinating stories of strange illnesses fill this book. Unfortunately, I failed to keep in mind when purchasing this book that there would be a clinical aspect to the stories. The author dug a little deeper than I had anticipated; however, it would be a great book for someone who really wants to know the whys, hows, and ifs.
This book was too technical for my interests. It wasn't that it was difficult to understand, but rather, I found the author's constant references to the work of others and the clinical tone were not to my liking. The individual stories were interesting, but there was not enough personal details to engage with them; it felt more like reading a case history than a story about the person's life and condition.
Likes: Cozy mysteries (cats a plus), personal memoirs,not too dark fantasy, books about the brain. Dislikes: Torture, animal cruelty.
This is one of those audiobooks where they let the author read the prologue. Then you can appreciate why it is they hire readers. Even with a talented reader the rest of the book, Sacks clearly likes lots of long complex sentences and big words and enjoys saying opposing things in the same sentence A LOT. If I had a paper copy here I could look for an example. It is that constant modifying of what you just said that makes everything the guy says more complicated than necessary. But still I enjoy this sort of case study and I found the book interesting. I think I would have found it more appealing overall if he modified his word choices a bit more. He talks a lot about people with developmental disabilities (not that he uses this term) but I have to cringe every time he says idiot, simpleton, moron, etc. I did not like the tale of Dr P., the Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat very much. Dr. P. creeped me out. At various points Sacks questions whether various people seem to still have their souls though I don’t think he mentioned it in this chapter but this guy really didn’t seem human to me. Was amazing to think damage to the visual parts of the brain could have this result. It made me mad (weird I know) to think that you could lose not only your ability to correctly perceive visual things, but that that also means you would lose the visual portion to memories. A lot of the book deals with memory. I was very interested to learn more about the two kinds of amnesia. Retrograde amnesia (the loss of pre-existing memories to conscious recollection) is what those of us who watched soaps as kids are familiar with. To me this is what “amnesia” means. But the book deals with anterograde amnesia (the loss of long-term memory, the loss or impairment of the ability to form new memories through memorization) a lot. Retrograde amnesia is horrible. There is a man with anterograde amnesia in this book. I found this part fascinating. It was scary to learn that this condition can be caused by alcoholism as it apparently was with this guy. That is almost enough to make a person give up Pinot Noir. Anyway, a lot of these people’s stories are sad – of course we are dealing mostly with people in institutions so that is to be expected. I thought the story about the “simple” twins with the math powers was especially sad..I was interested in the story about the woman who lost her proprioceptive sense. It was interesting since until my son started OT I didn't even know people had a proprioceptive sense. And who knew you could actually lose it! I should mention too that I don’t recall Sacks himself doing anything amazing in these cases. Obviously this is the guy from Awakenings and that was amazing, but in a lot of cases he doesn't do anything anybody wouldn't do. Someone says they aren't leaning, he pulls out a mirror so they can see they are. Well, I could have done that. Or if a patient says they can’t use their hands leave their breakfast out of reach. Really? This did the trick? In all that person’s life nothing was ever out of reach? Still it’s an interesting book, even if it’s overly intellectual style made me want to go from that to the dumbest book I could find
I haven't ever read the print version, but there is no particular reason why it would be beneficial to own this book in one format over the other. The audiobook suited me fine since there wasn't anything in it that I ended up wanting to look up later.
No, I listened during my commute to work one chunk at a time.
I thought this book would be more about mental disorders, but it is definitely about neurological disorders. While listening I craved a little more scientific explanation of the disorders he reviews, but I loved the case study format and how he brings the clients to life, even if it wasn't about the type of client I thought.
yes but would preview first
no. it's an interesting story but too much technical detail and some superfluous tangents.
You’ve probably heard of Dr. Oliver Sacks—the neurologist whose collections of patient case studies have been the subject of various books and movies (including Awakenings). I’d been familiar with Oliver Sacks for years (my dad had many of his books) but never actually read any of his books. Despite the fascinating case studies described in the book (idiot savants, Left Neglect, memory loss), I found the writing off-putting and never really engaged with the book. I think it was a combination of Sack’s writing style (which might be too clinical despite being accessible) and my need for more personal details and depth than Sacks was able to offer.
Reading the title, you might be led to believe that this is a book filled with humorous anecdotes and stories about anonymous patients. Well, the anonymous patient aspect is true. The humor; not so much. This is a clinical recounting of dozens of patients the author has encountered and treated over many decades. I'm sure psychologists, neurologists, and others researching and treating mental illness would not believe this to be dry reading, but for those of us who are not employed in those disciplines, it feels a lot like a textbook.
Now, with that said, it is a book intended for laypeople and I did learn a great deal. My father had Alzheimer's and my mother suffers from advanced Parkinson's disease. This book expanded my understanding of neurological disorders and gave me some insight into their world.
If you are looking for information, by all means get this book. If you are looking for entertainment, this is not likely to be your favorite listen.
The case histories are fascinating. The extent of medical, psychiatric & theoretical detail, not so much, at least for me. But for someone interested in neurological science & its development, this is the book for them.
The book was easy enough to follow, although I tuned out some of the details regarding different theorists & their writings on the brain & mind from centuries past. I appreciated Oliver Sacks's perspective that what the world in general sees as "deficits" can have positive aspects as well.
The case histories have caused me to look at mentally challenged as well as mentally ill people in a different, more accepting & less timid way.
It was definitely worth a credit.
A wonderful insight into our brains and brains gone bad. Oliver Sacks educates us with real-life stories from is patients, which humanises the information in a way that a textbook or other academic presentation could not.