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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

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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 In his introduction to this audiobook, Sacks himself explains that much of the content is now quite outdated, but he hopes, proudly in his soft British lisp, that The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat still resonates for its positive attitude and openness toward the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 Though this last section is perhaps the most obviously scientifically outdated section of the book, it also best demonstrates Sacks' deep feeling for the unique gifts of his subjects.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

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Sam Motes Tampa 02-27-13
    Sam Motes Tampa 02-27-13 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    253
    ratings
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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 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    Alissa Hamilton, Ontario, Canada 03-26-12
    Alissa Hamilton, Ontario, Canada 03-26-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Amazing!"

    Oliver Sacks is such an engaging, exciting, and thoughtful author. These stories far surpassed scientific documentation of odd mental illnesses and instead discussed the lived experience of his patients as people. Sacks is a formidable writer. I highly recommend this book.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phillip Cape Town, South Africa 11-03-11
    Phillip Cape Town, South Africa 11-03-11
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    "Not your ordinary story book"

    Very well read - interesting subject matter - really enjoyed. Will listen to it again and again - worth its price, but not for just anyone.

    15 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Omar 06-24-13
    Omar 06-24-13 Member Since 2016

    “As you know, madness is like gravity...all it takes is a little push.” The Joker

    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 2016

    B3n

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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
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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 2016

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

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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 2016

    Follow me on Goodreads too!

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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
  •  
    Elizabeth 02-20-13
    Elizabeth 02-20-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Started out strong"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Only the first half of it.


    What was most disappointing about Oliver Sacks’s story?

    The first half of this book was so interesting. It always amazing me what can go wrong with the human body. But about mid-way through it just became repetitive and I felt like "you've heard one neurological study you've heard them all".


    5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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