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The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales Paperback – April 2, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A neurologist who claims to be equally interested in disease and people, Sacks (Awakenings, etc.) explores neurological disorders with a novelist's skill and an appreciation of his patients as human beings. These cases, some of which have appeared in literary or medical publications, illustrate the tragedy of losing neurological facultiesmemory, powers of visualization, word-recognitionor the also-devastating fate of those suffering an excess of neurological functions causing such hyper states as chorea, tics, Tourette's syndrome and Parkinsonism. Still other patients experience organically based hallucinations, transports, visions, etc., usually deemed to be psychic in nature. The science of neurology, Sacks charges, stresses the abstract and computerized at the expense of judgment and emotional depthsin his view, the most important human qualities. Therapy for brain-damaged patients (by medication, accommodation, music or art) should, he asserts, be designed to help restore the essentially personal quality of the individual. First serial to New York Review of Books, The Sciences and Science; Reader's Subscription alternate. January
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Neurologist Sacks, author of Awakenings and A Leg To Stand On , presents a series of clinical tales drawn from fascinating and unusual cases encountered during his years of medical practice. Dividing his text into four parts"losses" of neurological function; "excesses"; "transports" involving reminiscence, altered perception, and imagination; and "the simple," or the world of the retardedSacks introduces the reader to real people who suffer from a variety of neurological syndromes which include symptoms such as amnesia, uncontrolled movements, and musical hallucinations. Sacks recounts their stories in a riveting, compassionate, and thoughtful manner. Written on a somewhat scholarly level, the book is highly recommended for larger collections. Debra Berlanstein, Towson State Univ. Lib., Baltimore
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (April 2, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684853949
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684853949
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (323 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Oliver Sacks was born in London and educated in London, Oxford, California, and New York. He is professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University, and Columbia's first University Artist. He is the author of many books, including Awakenings, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and Musicophilia. His newest book, Hallucinations, will be published in November, 2012.

Customer Reviews

OK, it does have a funny title but I find this book very interesting and easy to read.
Eric Smith
Dr. Sacks never loses sight of the human being facing the challenges he writes so eloquently of.
Beverly Bigtree Murphy MS, CRC
Oliver Sacks' book, "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" is a truly fascinating read.
Seth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

286 of 292 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
It is utterly fascinating to know that, as a result of a neurological condition, a man can actually mistake his wife for a hat and not realize it. It is also fascinating to learn that a stroke can leave a person with the inability to see things on one side of the visual field--which is what happened to "Mrs. S." as recalled in the chapter, "Eyes Right!"--and yet not realize that anything is missing. In both cases there was nothing wrong with the patient's eyes; it was the brain's processing of the visual information that had gone haywire.

Neurologist Oliver Sacks, who has a wonderful way with words and a strong desire to understand and appreciate the human being that still exists despite the disorder or neurological damage, treats the reader to these and twenty-two other tales of the bizarre in this very special book. My favorite tale is Chapter 21, "Rebecca," in which Dr. Sacks shows that a person of defective intelligence--a "moron"--is still a person with a sense of beauty and with something to give to the world. Sacks generously (and brilliantly) shows how Rebecca taught him the limitations of a purely clinical approach to diagnosis and treatment. Although the child-like 19-year-old didn't have the intelligence to "find her way around the block" or "open a door with a key," Rebecca had an emotional understanding of life superior to many adults. She loved her grandmother deeply and when she died, Rebecca expressed her feelings to Sacks, "I'm crying for me, not for her...She's gone to her Long Home." She added, poetically, "I'm so cold. It's not outside, it's winter inside. Cold as death...She was a part of me. Part of me died with her" (p. 182). Rebecca goes on to show Dr.
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80 of 82 people found the following review helpful By M. Broda on October 3, 1998
Format: Paperback
The first thing I did after reading this book was to hop back onto Amazon.con and order "Awakenings" and "An Anthropolgist on Mars." This book was recommended by one of my philosophy professors in college about six years ago. Well, it took me six years to pick it up, and I don't regret the decision. As a complete layperson, my eyes were opened to what a complex piece of machinery the brain is. Sack's personal perspective on these patients disorders is what takes this interesting material and makes it fascinating reading. The only problem I had with this book was that I was disappointed to see most every chapter end. I wanted to know more about most every case. I only rank it 4 instead of 5 for that reason (It could have been more in-depth) and a couple of the cases were simply mildly interesting rather than mind-bending. It's almost imcrompehensible to perceive the world and one's self in the same manner as some of these unfortunate people. I was especially intrigued by one of the questions Sack's brings up concerning the case history discussed in the chapter "The Lost Mariner." A man can remember nothing for more than a few seconds. His entire life, all of his experiences are gone almost as soon as they are past. "He is a man without a past (or future), stuck in a constantly changing, meaningless moment," Sacks writes. Sacks then ponders the question that will stop your heart: "Does he have a soul?" If you have ever been bothered by the question of the spiritual nature of man, Sacks --who stops well short of reaching any theological conclusions -- will disturb you with this material. From that standpoint, he is brilliant at informing by simply forcing the reader to ask questions of his or her self...Read more ›
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107 of 118 people found the following review helpful By Atheen M. Wilson on July 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
I used to work on a neurology ward when I first started in health care, and the many sad stories that I was privy to during that time has encouraged me to keep up with some of the research in brain and mind science.
Oliver Sacks' book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat was first published in 1970 and has been reprinted several times with new material added. The book is an interesting collection of stories of individuals with neurological deficits that highlight and clarify how the normal brain works. The author approaches his study with a compassion for his patient's troubled existence, and where the patients are content with their lot, he prudently leaves well enough alone, something not all MD's are willing to do. He also appreciates what his patients have to teach him about life and even about the practice of medicine itself. His ability to learn from others considered "unfortunate" or mentally "defective" makes the book a very insightful work.
While the author's extensive clinical practice has allowed him to make some interesting statements about what parts of the brain are involved with different mental functions, what he fails to do in this book is to provide anything approaching testable ideas or actual research supporting his theories. The colorful stories are well worth reading as moral parables, but a better book on current mind and brain research might be Ramachandran's Phantoms in the Brain. One might begin with the Sacks book, which is easy to read, and proceed to the more extensive work by Ramachandran.
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