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Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks

Hallucinations (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Oliver Sacks

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907509,716 (3.6)50
Authors:Oliver Sacks
Info:Knopf (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Nonfiction, Culture/Sociology, Your library

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Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks (2012)



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English (47)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Italian (1)  All (50)
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
I pretty routinely love Sacks' books, and this one is no exception. Even though I myself have had no hallucinations, induced or otherwise, I have always been fascinated with the topic. I do have lucid dreams, which are sort of related to hallucinations, but still are dreams, nevertheless. Fascinating book. ( )
  bness2 | May 23, 2017 |
I had a hard time getting into this book. Sacks doesn't do much to explain his agenda; he simply launches into a series of anecdotes and clinical descriptions of various kinds of hallucinations. After a few chapters, though, I found the book strangely compelling and read large chunks at each sitting. I came away impressed with the variety and uncanny beauty of the worlds human minds can create. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
4 stars ( )
  JennysBookBag.com | Sep 28, 2016 |
Oliver Sacks describes in this book many of the varied physiological causes for hallucinations (as opposed to the psychiatric causes). His style of meandering through a subject with the aid of numerous examples is very readable, and I found it utterly fascinating. I particularly enjoyed the section on migraine and now understand a lot more about my own migraine aura. ( )
  eclecticdodo | Sep 26, 2016 |
I’d always imagined hallucinations were dangerous, scary and rare; nothing like those tricks of imagination and under-stimulated hearing on a silent night. A voice says your name when nobody’s there—that’s just a dream isn’t it? Seeing those pulsating puddles of light before a migraine? But Oliver Sacks looks for the common cause, and combines the common experience with the strange, making his book Hallucinations an oddly immediate and compelling read.

Have you ever wondered why tired and stressed out pilots might see alien spacecraft, or where the universal monsters of fairytales come from. The mind plays intriguing tricks, it seems. And while this book includes rather more drug-induced visions that I’d expected, it also lumps together the ordinary and mundane with the only slightly odd and the increasingly strange.

The book touches on PTSD and its effects on the brain, stress and the illness once termed hysteria, cause, effect, and different types of memory. It’s an absorbing, endlessly fascinating read, and it’s far more immediate and personal than I’d expected. Not my favorite book by Sacks, it’s a thoroughly good read just the same.

Disclosure: Bought at an airport bookstore for reading on a plane. ( )
  SheilaDeeth | Aug 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 47 (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)

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