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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 In his introduction to this audiobook, Sacks himself explains that much of the content is now quite outdated, but he hopes, proudly in his soft British lisp, that The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat still resonates for its positive attitude and openness toward the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 Though this last section is perhaps the most obviously scientifically outdated section of the book, it also best demonstrates Sacks' deep feeling for the unique gifts of his subjects.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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Performance
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  •  
    robyn 08-26-12
    robyn 08-26-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Loved it"
    Would you listen to The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: and Other Clinical Tales again? Why?

    Yes. It was interesting and moving and well narrated. Made me laugh out loud espite its seriousness.


    What other book might you compare The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: and Other Clinical Tales to and why?

    Musicophelia, Awakenings, similar subject matter and same author.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The man who mistook his wife for a hat


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Holly 08-14-12
    Holly 08-14-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Alright....."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Update of the book.


    Any additional comments?

    I wish I would have realized how long ago this book was written.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer United States 08-07-12
    Kindle Customer United States 08-07-12 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great clinical case studies!"
    Where does The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: and Other Clinical Tales rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Great author and narrator


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

    Great book


    Which scene was your favorite?

    All of them


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

    It made me smile and chuckle. Made me appreciate life


    Any additional comments?

    Recommend it

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Colleen beaverton, OR, United States 06-11-12
    Colleen beaverton, OR, United States 06-11-12 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating Book"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    If you are reading this review it is because you are interested in the topic. It wont disappoint. The mind is amazing and these stories are as well.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The lady who had been "babied" her whole life that she didn't even know she could do things like feed herself.


    Have you listened to any of Jonathan Davis and Oliver Sacks (Introduction) ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    n/a


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The lady mentioned above.


    Any additional comments?

    The stories of these people are so interesting, you will be discussing them with your friends.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Hewett 05-23-12
    K. Hewett 05-23-12 Member Since 2014

    Mystery Reader

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    "Loved it"

    Even though this book is dated, actually BECAUSE this book is dated it becomes even more interesting! Really worth the read if you are interested in the way our brain's work!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brent 12-30-11
    Brent 12-30-11
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    "interesting case studies"

    Interesting case studies are presented, but I would have preferred to hear a little more in depth input on the theories of what caused these abnormalities and what malfunctioned in the brain. The collection of stories and cases studies seemed to be rather disconnected to one another. It might have been a better read had they focused on only one aspect of brain malfunction and dove deeper into the symptoms and cause.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gotta Tellya Knoxville, TN 09-04-16
    Gotta Tellya Knoxville, TN 09-04-16 Member Since 2013

    KEC

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Beloved Oliver Sacks at his best."
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: and Other Clinical Tales to be better than the print version?

    I read the print version years ago. Now, having enjoyed the audio version, I'd have to say that both have their merits. It is easier, with the print version, to refer back to previously read information when necessary for clarification purposes. But the audio version was very well done and served as an informative, engaging presentation of Dr. Sacks' experiences, conclusions and philosophical meanderings.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Dr. Sacks was a bright man who thought outside the mental health box, to the great benefit of his patients and to the inspiration of many. His works should be required reading for those involved in the field of psychology and human behavior. I like everything about Dr. Sacks' writings, except for his occasional tendency to get off track and ramble a bit at the end. But his ramblings are better than the musings of most people, so I felt privileged being able to listen to them.


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

    Not a character-driven work. The accounts in this book are of real people. I can't look at them as characters, not in the literary sense.


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

    Not extreme, but I felt a bit sad and nostalgic at times, knowing that Dr. Sacks has passed on. He is missed.


    Any additional comments?

    What I like the most about Dr. Sacks and his works is that he looks beyond the usual and the accepted to find the key aspects of a whole person--neurological, conceptual, emotional and spiritual. Each of these aspects of personhood is inextricably interwoven with the other components. The health of any one aspect affects the function of all. Many psychology experts focus on the mental and physical but shy away from the spiritual aspect of life. By spiritual, I don't mean religion, but the actual connection of a person with existence on all levels. Dr. Sacks recognized the wholeness of his patients. He strove to understand and treat people on all their levels of need. His work deserves respect, and emulation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 08-29-16
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    "Great Content, but I cannot listen to this"
    What would have made The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: and Other Clinical Tales better?

    A different narrator is all this book needed to be a win for me. It has great content. The science and humanity are well represented, but the narrator has no passion, no joy, and worst of all - no inflection.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The content.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Narrator is monotonous, slow speaking, and hard to follow. The voice drones on and on and on, and 20 minutes later you realize that you haven't heard anything that has been said for the past 18 minutes.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    The Content is fantastic. This is a great story, and I will finish this with a print copy. I will give the print copy a glowing review. I'll talk about the authors ability to humanize neurology. And I will likely recommend this book to other science loving readers.


    Any additional comments?

    Ditch the audio version - get the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jack 08-22-16
    Jack 08-22-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Beautifully written"

    Not only amazing cases but his writing style is so captivating and beautiful. Also read with passion and magic that brings out such a wonderful descriptive writing style.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Combs Louisville, KY 08-14-16
    Ryan Combs Louisville, KY 08-14-16 Member Since 2016

    Avid audiobook listener. Mostly into memoirs / autobiographies and other non-fiction.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Subject matter could have been interesting, but..."

    Sacks' unique patients are certainly interesting, but I often felt as if I have just opened up his clinical diary to a random page and was expected to understand technical terms and other context without a primer. Other reviewers have spoken about Sacks' compassion for his patients and that is clear, but as a reader I would like more framing, signposting, and analysis to link each case to a broader point or argument. This book has its moments, but overall it failed to reach its potential.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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