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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 In his introduction to this audiobook, Sacks himself explains that much of the content is now quite outdated, but he hopes, proudly in his soft British lisp, that The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat still resonates for its positive attitude and openness toward the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 Though this last section is perhaps the most obviously scientifically outdated section of the book, it also best demonstrates Sacks' deep feeling for the unique gifts of his subjects.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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  •  
    Eric Guindon 10-29-16
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    "Dated but great."

    So fascinating. Some of the language and terminology is no longer in use in psychology or neurobiology because it is offensive or inaccurate but the author even comments on how some of the terms are degrading and inadequate.
    He is clearly a skilled and perceptive physician whi describes and writes about his patients in a deeply compassionate and insightful way.
    I haven't been this engaged in a book for a long time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Bri 10-23-16
    Bri 10-23-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Very interesting."

    Never read anything quite like it. A slightly rambling collection of case studies with a gently stated message on human value. I would certainly purchase volume 2 if it existed.
    The narration was excellent in tone and emphasis, pitch perfect to my ear.

    If you have even a passing interest in mental health/psychology consider buying this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ashish Banerjee Noida 10-20-16
    Ashish Banerjee Noida 10-20-16 Member Since 2015

    Technology Evangelist

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    "pathology woven into a fantastic insight"

    of empathy and mystical experience, a must read for all Care givers of special children

    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
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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

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

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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
  •  
    L. L. Witham 08-10-16

    Quester

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    "Fascinating brain study"

    very interesting stories or cases of mental illness of a special nature,, and the analysis by a knowledgeable professional. Mostly leaves me wondering how to extract the unique talents of people and provide an opportunity for them to shine in a useful meaningful way.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Niqi Monte 08-03-16
    Niqi Monte 08-03-16 Member Since 2016
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    "SUPER INTERESTING!"

    Such a variety of case studies that boggle and intrigue! The mind is so fascinating, this book illuminates this in so many ways! Humane and clinical the same time!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 08-02-16
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 08-02-16 Member Since 2015

    Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.

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    "OLIVER SACKS"

    Neurological dysfunction is Oliver Sacks field of study and training. The irony is that a tumor attacks his brain to end his life. Of course, he was 82. But somehow, a tumor attacking Sacks’ brain seems an unfair marker for his passing. Sacks opens the eyes of many to the wholeness of being human when a neurological dysfunction changes their lives. Sacks is the famous neurologist who wrote one book that becomes a movie and several that become best sellers.

    Sacks is famous to some based on the movie “Awakenings” that recounts an experiment with L-dopa to treat catatonia; a symptom believed to be triggered by Parkinson’s. Patients may spend years in a state of catatonia; i.e. a form of withdrawal from the world exhibited by a range of behaviors from mutism to verbal repetition. Sacks wrote the book, “Awakenings” to tell of his experience in the summer of 1969 in a Bronx, New York hospital. The success and failure of the L-dopa experiment became a life-long commitment by Sacks to appreciate the fullness of life for those afflicted by neurological disorders. With the use of L-dopa, Sacks reawakens the minds and rational skills of patients that had been catatonic for years. In their reawakening, Sacks found that catatonic patients have lives frozen in time. Their mind/body interactions became suspended in the eyes of society. They were always human but they lost their humanness in neurological disorder.

    Sacks is saying never give up on patients with neurological disorders. They are whole human beings. The neurologist’s job, as with all who practice medicine, is “first, do no harm”. “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” illustrates how seriously Sacks took his calling.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mitzie Gordon 07-28-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Review the man who mistook his wife for a hat"

    loved it. it was very clearly narrated and i could easily follow thr different stories.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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