The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales

In his most extraordinary book, "one of the great clinical writers of the twentieth century" (The New York Times) recounts the case histories of patients lost in the bizarre, apparently inescapable world of neurological disorders. Oliver Sacks's The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat tells the stories of individuals afflicted with fantastic perceptual and intellectual aber...

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Title:The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales
Author:Oliver Sacks
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Edition Language:English

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales Reviews

  • Mona

    I first heard about this book when my biology professor mentioned it in class in reference to right-brain and left-brain disorders. Just last year, I had the good fortune to see the author himself - Dr. Sacks - speak at the university in my hometown. He was a dynamic and entertaining speaker and from then on, I resolved to try out his books. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat matched its author. The book is a collection of case studies on Dr. Sacks's patients with neurological disorders. Sac

    I first heard about this book when my biology professor mentioned it in class in reference to right-brain and left-brain disorders. Just last year, I had the good fortune to see the author himself - Dr. Sacks - speak at the university in my hometown. He was a dynamic and entertaining speaker and from then on, I resolved to try out his books. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat matched its author. The book is a collection of case studies on Dr. Sacks's patients with neurological disorders. Sacks divides the book into four parts, each of which deals with "losses" and "excesses of neurological functions, "transports" of hallucinations, visions, and imagination, and "the simple", concerning the mentally or physically challenged, respectively.

    In one chapter titled "The Twins", Sacks describes a pair of twins who had the ability to factor large numbers in their heads, so much so that they could calculate the date of any day of the week in history. He discovers that numbers, especially prime numbers were, for them, a special sort of communication that required no thinking through but was instantaneous. In another chapter, Sacks relates how a previously healthy patient woke up one morning convinced that the leg lying in his bed was not his. Efforts to convince him otherwise (including his own efforts to toss it out onto the floor which resulted in the rest of him falling out as well) were fruitless. How and why do these pheomena occur? These are the questions Sacks attempts to answer.

    Although Sacks includes discussion of concepts that may be familiar only to psychologists or neurologists, the book is accessible to readers without that type of backgroud. It was extremely readable, such that I finished it in two days. My only complaint is that although Sacks includes a postscript to most of the chapters to explain further studies or new discoveries that occurred after he first met these patients, there is often no resolution to these stories. This is understandable, considering that many of the patients' disorders are unusual and may not have any resolution, but I still found it a little frustrating. I do, however, want to do more reading on this subject and look foward to reading Sacks' book titled Awakening.

  • Patrick

    It's rare that I read non-fiction. It's just not my bag.

    That said, this is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read. I'm guessing I've brought it up hundreds of times in conversation.

    It's written by a neurologist who works with people who have stranger-than-usual brain issues. And not only are the cases interesting, but the way he writes about the people invovled is really lovely. It's not clinical at all. Not judgemental. It's very... loving, I would say. It's interesting to see someone

    It's rare that I read non-fiction. It's just not my bag.

    That said, this is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read. I'm guessing I've brought it up hundreds of times in conversation.

    It's written by a neurologist who works with people who have stranger-than-usual brain issues. And not only are the cases interesting, but the way he writes about the people invovled is really lovely. It's not clinical at all. Not judgemental. It's very... loving, I would say. It's interesting to see someone who obviously knows a lot of hard-line science write about these cases in terms that seem to me more suited to someone who would be a philosopher or a spiritualist.

    Amazing book. Can't recommend it highly enough...

  • Paquita Maria Sanchez

    This is not only an informative work on neurological disorders, but a humbling meditation on the beauty of imperfection. Through entering the worlds of a number of "limited" individuals, Sacks reveals the brain's (and therefore the individual's) remarkable ability to overcompensate for cognitive deficiencies. As a result of these heightened states of perception, the often frightening and infinitely compelling worlds of each individual are manifested in the means with which they organize and enga

    This is not only an informative work on neurological disorders, but a humbling meditation on the beauty of imperfection. Through entering the worlds of a number of "limited" individuals, Sacks reveals the brain's (and therefore the individual's) remarkable ability to overcompensate for cognitive deficiencies. As a result of these heightened states of perception, the often frightening and infinitely compelling worlds of each individual are manifested in the means with which they organize and engage with the ordinary, whether it be through mathematics, dance, music, or the visual arts. In simply dealing, they manage to transcend. Sacks explores the varying cognitive expressions of his patients without coming across as cold, sterile, or objectifying. Rather, he devotes a chapter to each individual case, creating in the reader a sense that they are engrossed in a series of fictional character studies, rather than a dry psychological manual or the surface-level observations and blind assumptions of a pompous intellectual. This would be a perfect starting point for anyone interested in learning a bit more about abnormal psychology.

  • Huda Yahya
  • Saleh MoonWalker

    کتاب جالبیه در مورد ذهن انسان که از کِیس اِستادی های زیادی تشکیل شده که نویسنده خودش به شخصه دیده یا مورد مطالعه قرار داده. توضیحاتی که در مورد اختلالات نورولوژی میده تحسین برانگیزه. اینکه چطور بعضی وقتا یه اختلال ساده در ذهن باعث ایجاد یه حس شخصی یا حتی باعث ایجاد استعداد قوی ای میشه که در هیچ شکل دیگه ای نمیتونست ظاهر بشه. همچنین تحقیقات و نتایجی که در مورد ذهن های اوتیسم بیان میکنه و اینکه چرا اینقدر تمرکز و نظم در زمینه خاصی دارن که دید شخصی رو در مورد این مساله واقعا باز میکنه.

    If a man has

    کتاب جالبیه در مورد ذهن انسان که از کِیس اِستادی های زیادی تشکیل شده که نویسنده خودش به شخصه دیده یا مورد مطالعه قرار داده. توضیحاتی که در مورد اختلالات نورولوژی میده تحسین برانگیزه. اینکه چطور بعضی وقتا یه اختلال ساده در ذهن باعث ایجاد یه حس شخصی یا حتی باعث ایجاد استعداد قوی ای میشه که در هیچ شکل دیگه ای نمیتونست ظاهر بشه. همچنین تحقیقات و نتایجی که در مورد ذهن های اوتیسم بیان میکنه و اینکه چرا اینقدر تمرکز و نظم در زمینه خاصی دارن که دید شخصی رو در مورد این مساله واقعا باز میکنه.

    If a man has lost a leg or an eye, he knows he has lost a leg or an eye; but if he has lost a self—himself—he cannot know it, because he is no longer there to know it.

  • Dru

    Dear Dr. Sacks,

    On page 112 of the paperback edition of your book, the second paragraph begins with the following sentence:

    "And with this, no feeling

    he has lost feeling (for the feeling he has lost), no feeling

    he has lost the depth, that unfathomable, mysterious, myriad-levelled depth which somehow defines identity or reality."

    I've read this sentence at least twelve times, and I still don't even have the slightest inkling of what the hell it means. What is the subject? What is the ve

    Dear Dr. Sacks,

    On page 112 of the paperback edition of your book, the second paragraph begins with the following sentence:

    "And with this, no feeling

    he has lost feeling (for the feeling he has lost), no feeling

    he has lost the depth, that unfathomable, mysterious, myriad-levelled depth which somehow defines identity or reality."

    I've read this sentence at least twelve times, and I still don't even have the slightest inkling of what the hell it means. What is the subject? What is the verb? Why is the word "that" italicized (twice?)? Good God man, what are you trying to tell me?

    Sincerely,

    Baffled in Brooklyn

    Some people may think "well, if I read the whole chapter, I'm sure I could decipher the meaning." To those people I say: good luck, Charlie. I hope you may succeed where I have so miserably failed.

    This book has many fascinating studies of neurological disorders, and the stories behind the patients are easily understood and, in many cases, enthralling. However, Dr. Sacks seems to give his readers too much credit when he throws off "hyperagnosia", "Korsokovian", and "meningioma" like he assumes we had read an entire neurology textbook before picking this one up. Also, many of his sentences (like the example above) include so many digressions and sudden turns that each one could practically be its own M. Night Shaymalan film pitch. All of this might have to do with the fact that it was written in the eighties, when I presume people were smarter.

  • Sheffy

    Despite so many people recommending this book, my high expectations were disappointed. Yes, it's perversely interesting to hear about neurological conundrums that afflict people in peculiar ways, but Sacks isn't a particularly good writer, nor does he have a good grasp on his audience. At times he obliquely refers to medical syndromes or footnotes other neurologists, as if he is writing for a technical physician audience, but on the whole his stories are too simplistic to engage such an audience

    Despite so many people recommending this book, my high expectations were disappointed. Yes, it's perversely interesting to hear about neurological conundrums that afflict people in peculiar ways, but Sacks isn't a particularly good writer, nor does he have a good grasp on his audience. At times he obliquely refers to medical syndromes or footnotes other neurologists, as if he is writing for a technical physician audience, but on the whole his stories are too simplistic to engage such an audience. He talks about phenomenology, but doesn't satisfactorily discuss mechanistically what is going on in the brain, so what's the point? To quote a friend in college, it's his own "mental masterbation"--he likes to show off how well-read he his, how many bizarre patients have been referred to him (or he's God's gift to them) and erudite his vocabulary is, but fails to clearly get his points across. On top of his confusing musings, his reconstructed dialogue is incredible unrealistic, it's clear why doctors need to learn to communicate better.

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