Customer Review

112 of 125 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A little old, but still interesting, July 25, 2002
This review is from: The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales (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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Location: Mpls, MN United States

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