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The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: And Other Clinical Tales MP3 CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged
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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 the Paperback edition.
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 the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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. Sacks that they pay "far too much attention to the defects of...patients...and far too little to what...[is] intact or preserved" (p. 183). Rebecca was tired of the meaningless classes and workshops and odd jobs. "What I really love...is the theatre," she said. Sacks writes that the theatre "composed her...she became a complete person, poised, fluent, with style, in each role" (p. 185).
Another of my favorite stories is Chapter 23, "The Twins." These two guys, idiots savants, "undersized, with disturbing disproportions in head and hands...monotonous squeaky voices...a very high, degenerative myopia, requiring glasses so thick that their eyes seem distorted" (p. 196) had the very strange ability of being able to factor quickly in their heads large numbers and to recognize primes at a glance. They could also give you almost instantly the day of the week for any day in history. One day a box of matches fell on the floor and "<111,> they both cried simultaneously." And then one said "37" and then the other said "37" and then the first said "37" and stopped. There were indeed 111 matches on the floor (Sacks counted them) and three times the prime number 37 does indeed equal 111! (p. 199). Later he discovered them saying six-figure numbers to one another. One would give a number and the other would receive it "and appreciate...it richly." Sacks discovered that they were tossing out primes to one another just for the sheer joy of doing it.
Another of Sacks's discoveries about his patients is that "music, narrative and drama" are "of the greatest practical and theoretical importance" (p. 185). He demonstrates this again and again here and in his more recent book, An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales (1995), which is also an incredibly fascinating book. (See my review here at Amazon.com.) Many people with neurological disorders or deficiencies become whole when engaged in a process such as story, music or drama. The process seems to give them a structure to follow which, for the time being, overcomes their handicap. This is seen remarkably even in a surgeon with Tourette's syndrome who, while performing surgery, was without tics (as reported in the book mentioned above).
It's clear that one of Sacks's purposes in sharing his experience is to dispel the prejudice against people who are different because of their defects. One can see that respect for others regardless of their limitations is something Sacks incorporates in his practice and his life. It is one of the many virtues of this wonderful book, that in reading it, we too are moved to a greater respect for others, people who really are challenged in ways we "normal" people can only imagine.