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Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks
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Hallucinations (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Oliver Sacks

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6804014,050 (3.58)41
Member:plastron
Title:Hallucinations
Authors:Oliver Sacks
Info:Knopf (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Nonfiction
Rating:****
Tags:nonfiction, science, neurology, hallucinations, medical

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Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks (2012)

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English (37)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (40)
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
More about hallucinations than you ever wanted to know. It starts out kind of neat, learning about the hallucinations brought on by sensory loss or drug use, but it gets very repetitive. ( )
  melydia | May 9, 2015 |
I'll confess that this is the first Oliver Sacks book I have read, although I have seen his work mentioned all over and have always been intrigued. I was not disappointed with Hallucinations, an engaging book that covers hallucinations not caused by psychosis, such as seen in schizophrenia.

The hallucinations Sacks covers are diverse and cover an array of causes: from Charles Bonnet syndrome to sensory deprivation, from sleep paralysis to phantom limb syndrome. Together with a variety of historical sources and patient accounts, he has pulled together a book that covers everything but psychosis. Some hallucinations have roots inside the brain, such as the prelude to an epileptic seizure, while others come from more nebulous sources, like grief or trauma. He even delves into intentional hallucinations, the kind caused by taking psychadelic drugs, which he apparently has ample experience with.

Sacks writes fluidly and has a wry sense of humor that crops up every now and again; though he occasionally delves into decidedly more than "pop" neuropsychology, I never felt bored reading it.

Definitely interesting to those who are curious about the brain and its often strange workings. ( )
  kittyjay | Apr 23, 2015 |
As always Oliver Sachs writes fascinating books with really interesting neurological stories. This also adds his usage of drugs which I had never heard of before. My only difficulty was that by the end I was getting a bit bored. The hallucinations I found more interesting were in the beginning of the book. ( )
  KamGeb | Apr 22, 2015 |
The individual cases of various patients provided a robust and varied picture or hallucinations from a neurological perspective. However, the best part of the book was the author's own accounts of psychotropic drub use. Over all, I enjoyed the subject and gained some insight to something I had previously thought of strictly in terms of mental disorders. ( )
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
Not the best Sacks I've ever read, but still interesting. Learned some new things, that's always a plus. ( )
  laurieindra | Jan 4, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
"Why Kermit?" This was the question asked by a woman who started to have hallucinations of the "Sesame Street" frog many times a day, several weeks after brain surgery. Kermit meant nothing to her, she said, and his shifting moods -- sometimes he looked sad, sometimes happy, occasionally angry -- had nothing to do with her own feelings.
 

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307957241, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2012: A familiar song on mental repeat, a shadowy movement in an empty house--many of us experience minor visual and auditory hallucinations and think nothing of it. Neurologist and professor Oliver Sacks concerns himself with those for whom such breaks with reality are acute and life altering. Dr. Sacks’ latest book--one of the most compelling in his fascinating oeuvre--centers on Charles Bonnet syndrome, a condition characterized by intricate visual hallucinations. Weaving together case studies with anecdotes from his own past and accessible medical explanations, Dr. Sacks introduces us to Sharon, whose vision is invaded by Kermit the Frog; Gertie, whose phantasmal gentleman caller visits each evening, bearing gifts; and a host of other patients whose experiences elicit both sympathy and self-reflection. (The good doctor also shares his own experiments with hallucinogenic drugs, to comic and insightful effect.) Hallucinations is Oliver Sacks at his best: as learned, introspective, and approachable as we could possibly imagine. --Mia Lipman

The Neurological and the Divine: An Interview with Oliver Sacks

The following is an excerpt from a Q&A with Dr. Sacks published on Omnivoracious, the Amazon Books blog. Click here to read the full interview.

Mia Lipman: In Hallucinations, you mention that your childhood migraines are one of the reasons you became a neurologist. How did they help shape your path?

Dr. Sacks: My experiences go back to my first memories of when I was three or four, suddenly seeing a brilliant zigzag which seemed to be vibrating, then enlarged and covered everything to one side. This has happened innumerable times since, but that first time was very terrifying…I know I was in the garden, and part of the garden wall seemed to disappear, and I asked my mother about it. She too had classical migraines, so she explained what it was about and said that it was benign and it would only last a few minutes, and I'd be none the worse. So though I'm not in love with the attacks, it's nice to know that one can live with this quite well.

So that early experience made you curious about why this was happening to you?

Indeed, and there were other experiences. Sometimes it was just color, perhaps in one half of the visual field, or things would be frozen and I couldn't see any movement. So I think this gave me a very early feeling that it's only the privilege of a normal brain which allows us to see the way we do—and that what seems to be a simple vision in fact must have dozens of different components, and any one of these can go down. So it was a learning experience for me as well.

Speaking of learning experiences, you talk in the book about a period in your 30s when you did a lot of hallucinogenic drugs—

Ah, I thought that would come up. [Laughing.]

Of course, it's the best part! I especially liked your description of the results as "a mix of the neurological and the divine." What did this self-experimentation teach you about your field, as well as personally?

I can't conceal that my motives were sort of mixed, but these were learning experiences as well as recreational ones, and occasionally terrifying ones. The gain, I think, [is that] it's a way of revealing various capacities and incapacities in the brain, including, perhaps, mystical ones…I quote William James, who, after taking nitrous oxide, said that it showed him there were many forms of consciousness other than rational consciousness, and that these seem to be uncovered one by one. And that's quite an experience. I do not recommend it to anybody, and I hope my writing about these things is not seen as a recommendation. I think I'm very lucky to have survived them, which several of my friends and contemporaries didn't.

> Continue reading "The Neurological and the Divine: An Interview with Oliver Sacks"

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:58 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

An investigation into the types, physiological sources, and cultural resonances of hallucinations traces everything from the disorientations of sleep and intoxication to the manifestations of injury and illness.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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