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 In his introduction to this audiobook, Sacks himself explains that much of the content is now quite outdated, but he hopes, proudly in his soft British lisp, that The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat still resonates for its positive attitude and openness toward the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 Though this last section is perhaps the most obviously scientifically outdated section of the book, it also best demonstrates Sacks' deep feeling for the unique gifts of his subjects.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

4.1 (3229 )
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  •  
    Amazon Customer 01-06-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enjoyable"

    I enjoyed listening to this book. I work in health care so I'm predisposed to be interested in these types of stories. But it's not overly complex and should also be easily understood by people not involved in the health care field.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Justin Zimmer 12-19-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Simply wonderful human tales"

    Sacks brings out the humanity in people oft forgotten by the world in which they do not fit. I was not prepared for the sheet clarity and humanness of this work. Oliver Sacks will make up my reading list for the next few months I'm sure.

    Jonathan Davis brought this work to life with expert characterizations and perfect inflection, even if there was the occasional English mispronunciation, he mastered those of names and foreign phrases quite satisfactorily.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason FPO, AP, United States 11-29-13
    Jason FPO, AP, United States 11-29-13 Member Since 2016
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    "Fascinating look at the brain gone wrong"

    I love Oliver Sacks, and this is one of his best!

    I read this title long ago, and it came up as a Daily Deal (I think) here on Audible, so I decided to enjoy it again - glad I did!

    If you don't know what Sacks is all about, he tells stories about some of the most amazingly strange things that can go wrong in our brains. People that can't identify others, what they are doing, or even who they are struggle to communicate and find themselves.

    This title is quite similar to "The Tell-Tale Brain" by VS Ramachandran, something I recently listened to as well, but not quite as detailed. "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" might be a little better for a more casual reader, it has a more narrative, less clinical feel than "The Tell-Tale Brain".

    Sometimes I was left wanting a little more detail and follow-up, especially in the cases where Dr Sacks only had one interview/meeting with the patient, and Sacks tends to wax a bit poetic from time to time, but those are truly minor complaints.

    The production is excellent, the reader professional, everything fine in that area.

    Very highly recommended!

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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
    1
    ratings
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    2
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    0
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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 08-07-12 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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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
    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

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    Meena Newark, NJ, United States 08-16-11
    Meena Newark, NJ, United States 08-16-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    75
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    3
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    "Good book"

    Good book. Well narrated! I enjoyed listening to it. Thanks to Audible for having this in store!!

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
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  • Amazon Customer
    Brixham, United Kingdom
    4/30/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Neurology can be fun!"
    Would you listen to The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: and Other Clinical Tales again? Why?

    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


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

    The most memorable anecdote is probably about hyper osmia; the subject feels like a dog, led by his nose.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    The reflections on what exactly makes us a person


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Just about


    Any additional comments?

    Definitely accessible

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    LEICESTER, United Kingdom
    2/13/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "beautiful insight into the mind"

    and how the brain works. fascinating and eye-opening. really superb reading performance too. enjoyed every moment

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Katharine
    11/14/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • ashley greenaway
    7/24/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Neurological wonders"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • A User
    5/4/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Engaging and warm book."

    Beautiful account by Oliver Sacks of human conditions and his account of their personal experiences and existence. Warm and encouraging are his tales of various disorders and bizarre defecits in perception and cognition.

    Oliver Sacks not only constantly reminds the reader of our fragile mortality but that even those that we may shrug off as 'mad' or 'broken' have diverse and vivid internal worlds. His focus not on defecits in cognition but on the art and music that defines us all: Bridging the gap between our conscious experiences and those that may be lacking in, and in over abundance of, specific perceptual modalities.

    Great book, would thoroughly recommend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • HMPS64
    London, UK
    7/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Medical read"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes to all student doctors. This is a fun way of learning neurology.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The stories.


    What does Jonathan Davis and Oliver Sacks (Introduction) bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Can be a dry book to rwad on its own merits


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

    Some understanding of difficulties and human complexities


    Any additional comments?

    Get this book students

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Louisa
    Freshwater Bay, United Kingdom
    1/16/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Actually rather dull and quite upsetting"
    What did you like best about The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: and Other Clinical Tales? What did you like least?

    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.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Oliver Sacks again?

    Probably not - you do need a certain level of expertise.


    What about Jonathan Davis and Oliver Sacks (Introduction) ’s performance did you like?

    He reads well and has a very gentle style which is well suited to this type of book.


    2 of 7 people found this review helpful

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