Groundbreaking neurologist Oliver Sacks has written a number of best-selling books on his experiences in the field, some of which have been adapted into film and even opera. Often criticized by fellow scientists for his writerly and anecdotal approach to cases, he is nevertheless beloved by the general public precisely for his willingness to exercise compassion toward his unusual subjects. In his introduction to this audiobook, Sacks himself explains that much of the content is now quite outdated, but he hopes, proudly in his soft British lisp, that The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat still resonates for its positive attitude and openness toward the neurological conditions described therein.
Audible featured narrator Jonathan Davis is more than up to the task of bringing these case studies to life. He adopts a tone that is both sympathetic and authoritative. In fact, he sounds very much like the actor William Daniels, who voiced the car in the television show Knight Rider, or for a younger generation, played Principal Feeny in the television show Boy Meets World. The stories in this book concern matters of science, to be sure, but they also contain quite as much adventure into uncharted territory as either of those television shows.The cases are divided into four sections: losses, excesses, transports, and the world of the simple. "Losses" involves people who lack certain abilities, for example, the ability of facial recognition. "Excesses" deals with people who have extra abilities, for example, the tics associated with Tourette's Syndrome. "Transports" involves people who hallucinate, for example, a landscape or music from childhood. "The world of the simple" deals with autism and mental retardation. Though this last section is perhaps the most obviously scientifically outdated section of the book, it also best demonstrates Sacks' deep feeling for the unique gifts of his subjects. Indeed, Davis anchors his delivery of the facts in these admirable empathies, demonstrating that in terms of the cultural perception of neurological conditions, Sacks' early work still has much to teach us. Megan Volpert
In his most extraordinary book, "one of the great clinical writers of the 20th century" (The New York Times) recounts the case histories of patients lost in the bizarre, apparently inescapable world of neurological disorders. Oliver Sacks' The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat tells the stories of individuals afflicted with fantastic perceptual and intellectual aberrations: patients who have lost their memories and with them the greater part of their pasts; who are no longer able to recognize people and common objects; who are stricken with violent tics and grimaces or who shout involuntary obscenities; whose limbs have become alien; who have been dismissed as retarded yet are gifted with uncanny artistic or mathematical talents.
If inconceivably strange, these brilliant tales remain, in Dr. Sacks' splendid and sympathetic telling, deeply human. They are studies of life struggling against incredible adversity, and they enable us to enter the world of the neurologically impaired, to imagine with our hearts what it must be to live and feel as they do. A great healer, Sacks never loses sight of medicine's ultimate responsibility: "the suffering, afflicted, fighting human subject".
PLEASE NOTE: Some changes have been made to the original manuscript with the permission of Oliver Sacks.
©1970, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985 Oliver Sacks (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"Dr. Sacks's best book.... One sees a wise, compassionate and very literate mind at work in these 20 stories, nearly all remarkable, and many the kind that restore one's faith in humanity." (Chicago Sun-Times)
"Dr. Sacks's most absorbing book.... His tales are so compelling that many of them serve as eerie metaphors not only for the condition of modern medicine but of modern man." (New York magazine)
I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
I love how Sacks, through his small clinical vignettes, exposes the complex, narrative powers of the brain. Written with a clinician's eye, but a poet's heart, I also love how he is able to show how these patients with all sorts of neurological deficits, disabilities, and divergences are able to adapt and even thrive despite their neurological damage. For the most part, they are able to find "a new health, a new freedom" through music, inner narratives, etc. They are able to achieve a "Great Health," a peace and a paradoxical wellness THROUGH their illness.
There are books of the same chemical composition as dynamite. The only difference is that a piece of dynamite explodes once, whereas a book explodes a thousand times. ― Yevgeny Zamyatin
The book kept me thinking how easy it is to cross the fine line between what we consider to be sane and insane, normal and abnormal. We take so many things for granted (like walking, sitting, remembering) that we don't really pay attention to them. But when a disaster strikes, and your body/mind doesn't feel the same way it used to, how do you react? Give up, or fight to feel 'normal' and 'together' again?
It was eye-opening to listen to this fantastic book. I felt that the author had never held himself aloof from his patients. The book was written with such compassion and empathy that I was so absorbed I couldn't do anything else. It's a must-have for anyone interested in neuropsychiatry, neurology and psychology.
The book is made up of 4 parts:
1. Losses (with special emphasis on visual agnosia)
The man who mistook his wife for a hat;
The lost mariner;
The disembodied lady;
The man who fell out of bed;
On the level;
The President's speech.
2. Excesses (i.e. disorders or diseases like Tourette's syndrome, tabes dorsalis - a form of neurosyphilis, and the 'joking disease')
Witty Ticcy Ray;
A matter of identity;
3. Transports (on the 'power of imagery and memory', e.g. musical epilepsy, forced reminiscence and migrainous visions)
A passage to India;
The dog beneath the skin;
The visions of Hildegard.
4. The world of the simple (on the advantages of therapy centered on music and arts when working with the mentally retarded)
A walking grove;
The autist artist.
Hi I am a geologist that now lives in South Australia I work in remote locations and find audiobooks essential for my sanity.
One of the pleasures of login on to audible is the surprise of which books are new to download. I have owned a text copy of this book since 1990 until I started to listen to the recording I had almost forgotten what an excellent series of compassionate single studies formed the book. It could be considered vicarious, the detailed study of individuals each with one or more "deficits". However it ends up as a deeply moving study of these individuals and in the process it tells us of the thin line that we each tread between fully functioning and being lost in the world. Great audio with the author reading the introduction and Jonathan Davis's voice pitched at exactly the right pitch to convey the pathos of each circumstance.
It opened up the world to some of the oddest self-perception dysfunctions known to medical practice. Hard to believe the mind tries so hard to work around some truly enormous deficits in order to function.
The fellow who truly mistook his wife for a hat.
Yes, and almost was.
This book gained a new fan of Oliver Sacks stories. Elegantly read, and consumately written.
A fellow listener inclined to share my opinion on these productions. Maybe even inspire someone toward a powerful, or educational audiobook!
I read this eighteen years ago. It was the most intriguing book I ever read to that date, as I was previously a fiction fan. This is a case by case story of Dr. Sacks most interesting patients, as well as other doctors patients that he met and found intriguing. I shared these stories with others years ago after first reading this, and you will, as I plan on doing again, have a blast sharing the idiosyncrasies of these marvelous humans, explored by a renowned neuropsychologist yourselves. The vernacular is heavy, and if you are not comfortable referencing a dictionary, google every once in awhile, or are a medical doctor it may be a minor disappointment for you, however I would guess context is enough for a layman to march through this still greatly satisfied.
Don't pass this by because of its publication date either. I listen to many psychology and science audio here, and this is not going to give you that out of the loop feeling some books do. Enjoy this new and updated gem!
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
in the main because its eponymous essay was the first that I read of Sachs and because I have subsequently taught the essay many times (in actuality, Awakenings preceded Mistook by more than a decade). Like Selzer in Tales Of A Knife and Ramachandran in The Tell-Tale Brain, Sachs brings the reader startlingly close to his patients, revealing with poetic accuracy and detail the frightening, distressing, often bizarre and sometimes humorous effects of their neurological disorders. Sachs, again much like Selzer, is much more than a reporter, but a poet, a writer of vivid prose, not only bringing science to the layman but making it live for all.
I found this book very touching and absolutely fascinating...
Oliver Sacks' other books are similar, but i found not as broadly interesting. Apart from that i have not ventured to read anything like it.
not having a background in psycho-anything, i think that reading the text would have been very difficult. i think that the narrator makes it possible to get the meaning while not needing the background, as i have found in other audiobooks.
over and over
even if you don't think this book will interest you, i would suggest you give it a try, i was very surprised. i literally caught myself with my mouth wide open in some of the stories!
Very well read - interesting subject matter - really enjoyed. Will listen to it again and again - worth its price, but not for just anyone.
This book feels like it was written in 1885, not 1985. Granted, it isn't Oliver Sacks' fault that the brain is so poorly understood, but he comes across as a gentleman scientist in the Victorian era who studies patients in his parlor. He often uses very demeaning and unscientific vocabulary to describe people. In the chapter I'm on now he describes a man as an "amiable simpleton," and often refers to behaviors as bizarre and strange. Seriously? You are a neuroscientist man! If a person walked in with blood running down their leg no one would say, How Bizarre! That blood is supposed to be on the Inside of the body! What the heck is is going there?
I expected to be educated about brain function, but in most cases he doesn't explain what happened and why, but does throw in the occasional technical term with no explanation. For instance I can summarize the chapter on a woman who had a stroke thus: a woman had a stroke. One whole side of her brain is dead. She can't see anything to the left. Isn't that bizarre? He hooked up a video camera to show her the left side of her face on the right. She freaked out. End of chapter. Another: Johnny hasn't been able to retain any memories since 1946. He might have killed part of his brain with alcohol but who knows. The author doesn't seem particularly interested. Johnny thinks he is 17 but he is 60, so the doctor shows him his face in a mirror. HA HA! You are old! Johnny freaks out. He wonders if Johnny still has a soul (????) and the sisters at the home say he does because he pays attention during mass. Oh and he likes to garden. And he never gets better.
That's been more or less the shape of each chapter. Person has traumatic accident or illness, manifests difficulty doing ______, the doctor makes notes on all their "bizarre" symptoms, and can't do anything to help them. In one chapter he DOES help a woman regain use of her hands and I was so relieved. Finally!
I'm putting this book because I've learned nothing much I didn't know about the brain. And if I am going to read sad stories about people struggling to live day to day life I need to feel that something was accomplished by recording their stories, but there is little evidence in this book that studying these people would result in scientists being able to help someone else.
Very disturbing read on how the mind can get out of whack and really cause a living hell for people. Trying to put oneself in the mental condition of one of these patients is an exercise in madness. The insight on aspirin or b6 prolonged overdose possibly contributing was interesting.
"Neurology can be fun!"
I'll definitely revisit this book because it's full of fascinating observation, acutely noted, about strange tricks the mind plays due to small chemical imbalances... On first reading the major stories stick out. I'm hoping to revisit the book for detail
The most memorable anecdote is probably about hyper osmia; the subject feels like a dog, led by his nose.
The reflections on what exactly makes us a person
"beautiful insight into the mind"
and how the brain works. fascinating and eye-opening. really superb reading performance too. enjoyed every moment
"Truly inspiring . Pure poetry ."
A must read for anyone, regardless of whether you or someone you know have ever come into contact with a brain injury / neurologist. Sachs is an inspiration for all. His empathy and the stories gave me goosebumps. One of those books you feel honoured to have read.
I found these anecdotes fascinating. I'd say that many of them deserve a book in themselves. The full case studies that Sacks wrote, on which these are presumably based, would interest me.
Yes to all student doctors. This is a fun way of learning neurology.
Can be a dry book to rwad on its own merits
Some understanding of difficulties and human complexities
Get this book students
"Actually rather dull and quite upsetting"
I thought some of the stories were interesting, but overall it's all rather anecdotal and unresolved which is rather unsatisfactory for the reader/listener. There are also some long passages where reference is made to experts in the field which are somewhat obscure to the listener (there are probably footnotes in the paper edition). The stories are fascinating as far as they go but we often have no idea if there was a cure or any hope for the sufferer. The truth is also that these poor people were/are very ill and sometimes their cases are very sad.
Probably not - you do need a certain level of expertise.
He reads well and has a very gentle style which is well suited to this type of book.
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