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 In his introduction to this audiobook, Sacks himself explains that much of the content is now quite outdated, but he hopes, proudly in his soft British lisp, that The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat still resonates for its positive attitude and openness toward the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 Though this last section is perhaps the most obviously scientifically outdated section of the book, it also best demonstrates Sacks' deep feeling for the unique gifts of his subjects.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)
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
I love how Sacks, through his small clinical vignettes, exposes the complex, narrative powers of the brain. Written with a clinician's eye, but a poet's heart, I also love how he is able to show how these patients with all sorts of neurological deficits, disabilities, and divergences are able to adapt and even thrive despite their neurological damage. For the most part, they are able to find "a new health, a new freedom" through music, inner narratives, etc. They are able to achieve a "Great Health," a peace and a paradoxical wellness THROUGH their illness.
I found this book very touching and absolutely fascinating...
Oliver Sacks' other books are similar, but i found not as broadly interesting. Apart from that i have not ventured to read anything like it.
not having a background in psycho-anything, i think that reading the text would have been very difficult. i think that the narrator makes it possible to get the meaning while not needing the background, as i have found in other audiobooks.
over and over
even if you don't think this book will interest you, i would suggest you give it a try, i was very surprised. i literally caught myself with my mouth wide open in some of the stories!
One of the pleasures of login on to audible is the surprise of which books are new to download. I have owned a text copy of this book since 1990 until I started to listen to the recording I had almost forgotten what an excellent series of compassionate single studies formed the book. It could be considered vicarious, the detailed study of individuals each with one or more "deficits". However it ends up as a deeply moving study of these individuals and in the process it tells us of the thin line that we each tread between fully functioning and being lost in the world. Great audio with the author reading the introduction and Jonathan Davis's voice pitched at exactly the right pitch to convey the pathos of each circumstance.
Oliver Sacks is the undisputed King of the medical neurology tale. Weaving drama, intrigue, suspense, and moving characters with incredible and extremely academically enlightening medical fact. The book, one of my favorites since college, (and one I re-read numerous times through medical school and my eventual neurology residency) is simply phenomenal. I have given copies to college students considering medical school, and medical students considering their residency. It truly reveals the brain, and the mind, better than any other book, text, or article.
Don't be frightened off, however. The layperson, the non-physician, will be just as captivated, just as amazed. The intrigue, the mystery of some of the brain injuries, or pathology of the disease, captures better than any James Bond villain. The suspense more real, the issues more valid.
I have read this book many, many times, but I must comment on the narration. The reader brings this story alive. He is slow, deliberate, and moves at the perfect pace. Inflecting, pausing perfectly, enunciation of each word, each idea; as good as any audible book in my library. (over 700, so this is rare, and high praise for me.).
I give this a Thumbs Up. A home run by the Sultan of Neurology.
I would recommend this to friends who enjoy exploring the workings of the mind.
I would be willing to read another Oliver Sacks' book because his case studies are sometimes fascinating and it is clear that he has the personal experience to back up his work.
The book is expertly read. Where I would have stumbled over terminology, it was nice to have a narrator deliver the words smoothly.
I can't say that I was inspired, more than anything I felt a little fearful of what could potentially happen to my own mind.
The mind is an amazing and scary place! I think a layperson can definitely follow along, though it is occasionally bogged down with technical language that is obviously meant for the experts. Most of these case studies are the minute exception to the norm, but many of them are incredible. The most tragic common denominator for me is the fact that there are so many brain disorders that completely rob a person of purpose and happiness. The good part, I guess, is that some of them don't know it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Very well read - interesting subject matter - really enjoyed. Will listen to it again and again - worth its price, but not for just anyone.
3 Men & Me
Enjoyed the book and well-read. Fascinating and deeper look into neurological and developmental abnormalities and how/what they came to be in case studies.
Tell us about yourself!
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.
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