30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
A Deeply Spiritual Book,
This review is from: The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales (Paperback)
I first encountered the essay "Rebecca" (one of the fine "clinical tales" in Sacks's book)in a Norton Anthology I used in a writing course. In this essay, Sacks describes his encounter with a young girl on a park bench outside the hospital. Later, he encounters her in a clinical setting as a patient, and has a different view of her. His clinical methodology uncovers her deficits; his challenge is to see past them to the whole spiritual being he saw sitting on a park bench transfixed with the beauty of spring. That he is able to do so refocuses his attitudes toward his other patients, for what he sees in Rebecca, he now "saw in them all."
For me what was most interesting about these fascinating stories is that the underlying question has to do less with cures for bizarre neurological diseases, than with the essential question of what makes us who we are, and what do we do when our entire concept of self is savaged and the world left unrecognizable?
For Sacks, at least part of the answer lies in art--the narrative in the synagogue that knits Rebecca's deficits and makes her whole (holy?); the music that enables some patients who are unable even to walk without difficulty, the ability to dance; the notes that enable stutterers to sing.
This is a wonderful book that does what wonderful books do--it makes the reader look again at what he only thought he saw before, and see it whole.