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The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and…
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The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales (1985)

by Oliver Sacks

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,443135572 (3.94)255
  1. 122
    The Tell-Tale Brain by V. S. Ramachandran (lorax)
  2. 20
    Toscanini's Fumble: And Other Tales of Clinical Neurology by Harold L. Klawans (joririchardson)
  3. 20
    Fractured Minds: A Case-Study Approach to Clinical Neuropsychology by Jenni A. Ogden (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: I read this for pleasure but have since learned it's used as a textbook. Quite probably it's not got so broad an appeal as Sacks' book but to me the Ogden not only seems more substantial but it's even more the page-turner.
  4. 20
    Do Zombies Dream of Undead Sheep?: A Neuroscientific View of the Zombie Brain by Timothy Verstynen (Katya0133)
    Katya0133: A humorous and decidedly irreverent take on neuroscience which nonetheless manages to be incredibly informative.
  5. 20
    Awakenings by Oliver Sacks (chwiggy)
  6. 20
    Blindsight by Peter Watts (hnau)
    hnau: Science fiction inspired by the works of Oliver Sacks (among others).
  7. 20
    The Man Who Forgot How to Read: A Memoir by Howard Engel (meggyweg)
  8. 10
    Bomb in the Brain : A Heroic Tale of Science, Surgery, and Survival by Steve Fishman (meggyweg)
  9. 10
    Love's Executioner & Other Tales of Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom (clairecc)
  10. 00
    The Barmaid's Brain: And Other Strange Tales from Science by Jay Ingram (geophile)
  11. 00
    On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks (chwiggy)
  12. 00
    The Burning House by Jay Ingram (geophile)
  13. 00
    The Rationality of Emotion by Ronald De Sousa (ShaneTierney)
  14. 00
    A Journey Round My Skull by Frigyes Karinthy (meggyweg)
  15. 00
    Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain by Antonio Damasio (ShaneTierney)
  16. 15
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey (lucyknows)
    lucyknows: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey may be paired with The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat by Oliver Sacks or even Awakenings by the same author. All three books explore the idea that once a person becomes ill or is institutionalised, they lose their rights and privileges.… (more)
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» See also 255 mentions

English (119)  Italian (6)  German (2)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (135)
Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
This was a very interesting book, but it's outdated. The author writes as both a neurologist and a general intellectual, well-versed in philosophy. This was not a problem for me, but I think it would limit his audience. I do like the way he thought philosophically about his patients' problems and what it meant for their lives, but I would have liked more of the science behind what was going on with them. ( )
  3njennn | Nov 25, 2018 |
fascinating and deeply, deeply humane ( )
  haarpsichord | Nov 5, 2018 |
I am so angry right now. I can’t take another word of this self-righteous, ignorant, judgmental narrative masquerading as compassion. I am close to the end but I can’t bear to finish. I just want to fling my phone (I was taking the audiobook route) to the wall and scream, NO! NO! NO!!! These are people, not freaks, idiots, morons, retards!!!

I know this is how it was in the seventies, but I am reading it now. And even in the seventies - how can a doctor clearly see extraordinarily abilities in someone, and still call them a retard and a freak, because some other abilities are lacking, and because they don’t understand where some behaviors (like tantrums) are coming from? (He is describing someone clearly on the autism spectrum.) You have someone with superhuman ability to remember and understand very complex nuances of music, and your conclusion is not that this person is smart and we misdiagnosed him, but that music does not require intelligence? Wtf is wrong with you???

This last chapter is just an avalanche of belittling, terrible language. Defectives, retards, morons, simpletons, freaks. Just so derogatory. It seems too much of this language, and not just used as a clinical term.

The blurb says Dr Sacks talks of people with compassion. Bullshit. Pity is not compassion. He is dripping with condescension, talking of everyone like “it is such a pity that their life is shattered”, always analyzing how terrible it is when this or that ability is missing. He even goes to the point of suggesting that some people with memory loss do not have a soul! WTF! He does not treat the “patients” as people, does not feel like he should help their strengths, special abilities flourish, help them live a full life. Again, I am aware that this was the seventies. But that does not make it right.

This book is dated to the point of blood-boiling. It is not a book we should still be reading. I can’t recommend it to anyone in the 21st century. ( )
  Gezemice | Oct 29, 2018 |
I guess I was expecting better. It was an interesting read but a little disappointing. ( )
  DebbyEisemann | Sep 29, 2018 |
Oliver Sacks was a neurologist, working with clients that exhibited an array of psychological maladies. Rather than only express how strange these patients were, Sacks goes deeper. He wants to know the root of these people, the Person underneath their illnesses. And that's where The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat shines. Oliver Sacks is endearing and blessed with a kind heart. We, the readers, can only gain from his kindnesses. ( )
  JaredOrlando | Aug 27, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
In addition to possessing the technical skills of a 20th-century doctor, the London-born Dr. Sacks, a professor of clinical neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, sees the human condition like a philosopher-poet. The resultant mixture is insightful, compassionate, moving and, on occasion, simply infuriating. One could call these essays neurological case histories, and correctly so, although Dr. Sacks' own expression -''clinical tales'' - is far more apt. Dr. Sacks tells some two dozen stories about people who are also patients, and who manifest strange and striking peculiarities of perception, emotion, language, thought, memory or action. And he recounts these histories with the lucidity and power of a gifted short-story writer.
 
The book deserves to be widely read whether for its message, or as an easy introduction to neurological symptoms, or simply as a collection of moving tales. The reader should, however, bring to it a little scepticism, for outside Sack's clinic, things do not always fall out quite so pat.
added by jlelliott | editNature, Stuart Sutherland (pay site) (Dec 26, 1985)
 

» Add other authors (36 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sacks, Oliverprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cassel, BooTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goldberg, CarinCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moll-Huber, P.M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morena, ClaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wensinck, F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
To talk of diseases is a sort of Arabian Nights entertainment.

- William Osler
The physician is concerned (unlike the naturalist)... with a single organism, the human subject, striving to preserve its identity in adverse circumstances.

- Ivy McKenzie
Dedication
To Leonard Shengold, M.D.
First words
Neurology's favorite word is 'deficit', denoting an impairment or incapacity of neurological function: loss of speech, loss of language, loss of memory, loss of vision, loss of dexterity, loss of identity and myriad other lacks and losses of specific functions (or faculties).
Quotations
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
To talk of diseases is a sort of Arabian Nights entertainement / Wiliam Osler
The physician is concerned (unlike the naturalist) ... with a single organism, the human subject, striving to preserve its identity in adverse circumstances. / Ivy McKenzie
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Author Oliver Sacks
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (5)

Book description
A romantic rendering of the daily sufferings of people with relatively obscure neurological issues.
Haiku summary
Neurology doctor
Studies people as people
Not sacks for strange brains (Marissa_Baden)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0684853949, Paperback)

In his most extraordinary book, "one of the great clinical writers of the 20th 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 aberrations: patients who have lost their memories and with them the greater part of their pasts; who are no longer able to recognize people and common objects; who are stricken with violent tics and grimaces or who shout involuntary obscenities; whose limbs have become alien; who have been dismissed as retarded yet are gifted with uncanny artistic or mathematical talents.

If inconceivably strange, these brilliant tales remain, in Dr. Sacks's splendid and sympathetic telling, deeply human. They are studies of life struggling against incredible adversity, and they enable us to enter the world of the neurologically impaired, to imagine with our hearts what it must be to live and feel as they do. A great healer, Sacks never loses sight of medicine's ultimate responsibility: "the suffering, afflicted, fighting human subject."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:07 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

In his most extraordinary book, "one of the great clinical writers of the 20th 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 aberrations: patients who have lost their memories and with them the greater part of their pasts; who are no longer able to recognize people and common objects; who are stricken with violent tics and grimaces or who shout involuntary obscenities; whose limbs have become alien; who have been dismissed as retarded yet are gifted with uncanny artistic or mathematical talents. If inconceivably strange, these brilliant tales remain, in Dr. Sacks's splendid and sympathetic telling, deeply human. They are studies of life struggling against incredible adversity, and they enable us to enter the world of the neurologically impaired, to imagine with our hearts what it must be to live and feel as they do. A great healer, Sacks never loses sight of medicine's ultimate responsibility: "the suffering, afflicted, fighting human subject."… (more)

» see all 7 descriptions

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