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The Mind's Eye Hardcover – October 26, 2010
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Digital, Unabridged, WAV
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Sacks, a neurologist and practicing physician at Columbia University Medical Center, and author of ten popular books on the quirks of the human mind (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat) focuses here on creative people who have learned to compensate for potentially devastating disabilities. From the concert pianist who progressively lost the ability to recognize objects (including musical scores) yet managed to keep performing from memory, to the writer whose stroke disturbed his ability to read but not his ability to write (he used his experience to write a novel about a detective suffering from amnesia), to Sacks himself, who suffers from "face blindness," a condition that renders him unable to recognize people, even relatives and, sometimes, himself (he once confused a stranger's face in a window with his own reflection), Sacks finds fascination in the strange workings of the human mind. Written with his trademark insight, compassion, and humor, these seven new tales once again make the obscure and arcane absolutely absorbing. (Oct.)
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Sacks, famous for combining his knowledge as a physician and his compassion for human stories of coping with neurological disorders, offers case histories of six individuals adjusting to major changes in their vision. A renowned pianist has lost the ability to read music scores and must cope with the fear of an ever-shrinking life as her vision worsens. A prolific writer develops “word blindness” and is unable to read even what he himself writes, forcing him to develop memory books in his mind, adaptations that he later incorporates into his fiction writing. Sacks recalls his own struggle to cope with a tumor in his eye that left him unable to perceive depth. He includes diary entries and drawings of his harrowing experience. Sacks, author of the acclaimed Musicophilia (2007), among other titles, combines neurobiology, psychology, and psychiatry in this riveting exploration of how we use our vision to perceive and understand the world and our place in it and how our brains teach us to “see” those things we need to lead a complete, fulfilled life. --Vanessa Bush
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i'm very glad my vision is back and i've done all this research and worked with my doctors to determine the cause (not a brain tumor). but for the almost full year it was either gone or wrong it was hell, especially for an impatient person like myself, who could barely do the necessary research to help determine the cause without being able to read properly. it makes you feel very vulnerable, and nervous, and dependent. dr. sacks obviously felt the same way.
i think it's important for people to realize that doctors are humans, not gods. they suffer the same maladies we do, and make mistakes just as often. it is also crucial for doctors to remember this as well, for when, if ever, they become the patient.
The book focuses mostly on visual perception and how the mind processes this information through its dense neurological framework. The initial case studies deal with persons who have suffered perceptual damage due to strokes. He refers back to several of his previous works, notably The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat and provides a number of historical insights into visual perception, as he tells of persons who have suddenly lost their ability to read and even differentiate everyday objects around them.
Perhaps his most interesting chapters are those on stereo vision. The first about a woman who was able to regain her stereo vision with corrective work on her eyes, and his own sad loss of stereo vision due to cancer in one eye. Here, he provides wonderful historical insights into visual perception, references a number of key works, and provides an interesting glimpse into his own life.
He closes with a fascinating chapter on how persons deal with blindness, starting with John Hull, who essentially accepted his blindness and came to rely on his other senses to perceive the world around him, to a boy who developed a powerful sense of echolocation to compensate for his sudden blindness, to other cases where persons learned to build elaborate internal visual worlds to compensate for their loss of "vision." No two cases are alike and Sacks once again shows a wonderful sensitivity to his patients which make his books so appealing.