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The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: and Other Clinical Tales Audiobook

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: and Other Clinical Tales

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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

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 In his introduction to this audiobook, Sacks himself explains that much of the content is now quite outdated, but he hopes, proudly in his soft British lisp, that The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat still resonates for its positive attitude and openness toward the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

Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Pauline Colorado Springs, CO, United States 08-03-13
    Pauline Colorado Springs, CO, United States 08-03-13 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating Look Into the World of Perception"
    If you could sum up The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: and Other Clinical Tales in three words, what would they be?

    Fascinating stories.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    Which character – as performed by Jonathan Davis and Oliver Sacks (Introduction) – was your favorite?

    The fellow who truly mistook his wife for a hat.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, and almost was.


    Any additional comments?

    This book gained a new fan of Oliver Sacks stories. Elegantly read, and consumately written.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phillip Moorabbin, Australia 05-13-12
    Phillip Moorabbin, Australia 05-13-12 Listener Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "True stories about how our brains effect us"
    What did you love best about The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: and Other Clinical Tales?

    I like the fact that this book was written by a doctor who sees his patients as persons, not things. These are real case histories, and these people are suffering from various forms of brain damage and defects. It is interesting to learn how they are coping, and how their personalities are being effected.It is also so fascinating to learn how much our organic physiology effects our personality.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: and Other Clinical Tales?

    The book ends by pointing our how many ways one of the authors patents could have their very special gifts employed in fruitful work, but also points out that instead the patents will probably (like many others) be overlooked and discarded for life to the back room of a public hospital.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me happy to know that some doctors really do care, and see potential, for the handicapped. It made me sad to think that so many people are discarded.


    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sam Motes Tampa 02-27-13
    Sam Motes Tampa 02-27-13 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    226
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    Story
    "Lack of mind control"

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Guns4all 12-05-12
    Guns4all 12-05-12 Member Since 2015
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    "intriguing--my first book by this guy"

    I really liked it. A bit dry at times, but entertaining and informative. I only lost attention a few times, but those moments would most likely really interest someone who was a student of mental dis(?)orders.

    I liked the reader quite a bit.

    Suprisingly, upon reflection, I rated this book more highly than I thought I would right after completion, so for me, that means ut caused me to think, reflect, and even have stuff stick with me....my definition of a good book, movie, or study.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Omar 06-24-13
    Omar 06-24-13 Member Since 2015

    “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” - Albert Einstein

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A MUST, but"

    I have been always fascinated by the brain science, how the mind work and psychology. But I found myself always gravitating to the non-clinical side of it, but the cognitive and social sides, that is "How the normal minds work and how the average person behaves", so I thought a clinical cases book by the great Dr. Sacks can help. I WAS RIGHT.

    Why not 5 stars then? because the author didn't in some parts take into consideration that some non-professionals like myself would read it :) A lot of neurological terminology and drug names can sometimes get to my nerves.

    After all, a must.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B. Lanford Longview, TX USA 05-05-15
    B. Lanford Longview, TX USA 05-05-15 Member Since 2015

    B3n

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Deep, fascinating, and fun."

    Just the right balance between fun stories and educational neuroscience that won't let you look at human consciousness the same way ever again. The book is a collection of clinical stories that are sad, funny, and uplifting. The stories are well read, and altogether enjoyable.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    PLCC 04-23-15
    PLCC 04-23-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The brain is fascinating"

    If you're interested in the brain, this book is for you. If you like clinical case study, this book is for you. I had a little bit of difficulty getting started but once the case studies started rolling, this was fascinating. The brain is mysterious and wonderful. This isn't so much about mental illness as it is about biological changes in the brain affecting behavior and interaction. Amazing diagnoses throughout.
    The narrator did an excellent job personalizing it as though it was his case studies.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 02-12-15 Member Since 2015

    I value intelligent stories with characters I can relate to. I can appreciate good prose, but a captivating plot is way more important.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Surprisingly well-written, thoughtful and touching"

    I had assumed that this book would be an interest, yet depressing and clinical examination of fascinating brain disorders. I was wrong. Oliver Sacks has written an uplifting, and unexpectedly beautiful book here.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Simone 12-01-14
    Simone 12-01-14 Member Since 2015

    Member Since 2006!!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting Enough"

    The book was interesting enough; I found the individual case-studies absorbing, but it got very dry and text-booky when going into detail surrounding the various medical conditions and that bored me.

    Overall – not bad for 5$

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ruth United States 11-06-12
    Ruth United States 11-06-12 Member Since 2014

    I love clean books of all sorts. Love mysteries, fantasies epic to kids stories, fairy tales, romances, humor, and historical fiction

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An Amazing Look at the True Final Frontier"

    Two of my sister's professors recommended this book to her and she recommended it to me. As the mother of a child who has some problems similar to some of the neurological disorders in this book it has special significance for me. I do think that the Brain is the TRUE final frontier. For so many years we were told about our five senses and this book shows that truly there are more than that. These disabilities, many of them, are invisible. Imagine an individual who looks fine and still struggles to function. No one knows how to act or what to expect and many times people are either surprised, confused or offended. Many people and agencies won't even recognize what is going on as a true disability.

    The vocab is steep and I looked up more than a few words online guessing at spellings. Even when I didn't know every single word, I got the general meaning of things. The narrator is awesome. My husband has heard so much about the book, he's told me he's going to read it next.

    I was continually amazed by the poignant and compelling stories told. I was also extremely grateful for the author's compassion and recognition of the humanity of his patients. The common thread of each person trying to find the balance and their own version of normal was very interesting. Going through testing and trying to get services is so dehumanizing, and yet, each life sings its own melody; each life must be appreciated for its own goodness and uniqueness. This is an aspect which so often gets lost in society or modern medicine's quest for what they call normal.

    This book is truly amazing in every way. The author alludes to so many other works and studies and makes even the bizarre behavior of these real-life characters understandable. The patients and the problems are interesting. The way the author talks about them is interesting. The way some of them find "normal" is interesting.... Interesting is too bland a word. Maybe Fascinating, Surprising, jaw-dropping, eye-opening, as well as heart-rending. It gave me hope that surprising answers are still being found.

    This book is definitely worth your time and credit. I good solid break from fantasy, sci-fi, mysteries and YA fiction.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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