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 In his introduction to this audiobook, Sacks himself explains that much of the content is now quite outdated, but he hopes, proudly in his soft British lisp, that The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat still resonates for its positive attitude and openness toward the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 Though this last section is perhaps the most obviously scientifically outdated section of the book, it also best demonstrates Sacks' deep feeling for the unique gifts of his subjects.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)
Still my favourite book after many years since I read it the first time. The stories range from funny to tragic to amazing and heart warming and you will be left wanting more when you finish.
The narration is executed very well also. The narrator manages to give each character a unique and fitting voice that adds to the experience.
Such an enjoyable and often moving book about patients dealing with neurological impairment. It makes you consciously aware of how hard their lives might be. In some cases, how beautiful it must also be to have their minds.
For myself being in the field of psychology and working with individuals with the diagnoses discussed in tis book it was amazing! So intriguing and fascinating. A little dull voiced at times but still such amazing content.
The examples of patient curiosities were fascinating but the level on which this was written made me wish I were reading it on a Kindle so I could get instant definitions of the vocabulary being used. There was a lot of "doctor talk" which makes it challenging for those not in the medical field.
Yes, definitely. I purchased the print version and as I read it, it became harder to read. I continued the book from the audio edition and it was perfect! The narrator makes it so much easier to understand and grasp the meaning and the tone of the stories. I have never heard a more perfect narrator, definitely give this a try.
I can see why some people either didn't like the book so much, or found it hard to read; because Dr. Sacks sometimes makes one wonder if he himself suffered from occasional epileptic seizures, thus; writing not only in a scientific jargon but also in a Shakespearean poetic manner.
The audio book was a bit hard to follow, I found myself pausing, researching, and rewinding a lot.
But nevertheless, a must read for anybody studying or interested in Neuropsychology in particular.
The magnificent stories make you think about all the blessings that we take their existence for granted.
I have lots of thoughts in my head, one is of atheism. Seems like one is atheist by choice and not born with. I find myself wanting to know more, to see what it takes for one to decide to be one, where another decides to believe.
Having my share of mental struggle myself, the line that most resonated in my mind is: "The lack of social support and sympathy the patients with disorders of hidden senses face, is an additional trial".
I wish I, not only have met Dr. Sacks, but also worked with.
Some stories are surely moving. Started really well but pace was slow in second hour and picked up later. Not gripping like expected to be but satisfying to listen once.
"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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