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Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks

Hallucinations (2012)

by Oliver Sacks

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Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
I kept getting strange looks while reading this.

When picking up [a:Oliver Sacks|843200|Oliver Sacks|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1222681187p2/843200.jpg] it's important to realize that you're reading a medical text. The accounts you're looking at are medical cases, with only a marginal effort made to edit the language to something easier for the layman. Which is to say, these books can be rather dull. If you go in expecting that, however, they can be informative and interesting reads.

I learned a lot about the nature of hallucinations and the misconceptions that exist surrounding them. I learned that most people hallucinate, in one way or another, and that it's rather normal. I also learned how incredible complex our nervous systems are, and in particular our optical centers. Really, really interesting stuff. It's no wonder it breaks down now and again.

I also learned that it's incredibly unfair to introduce a Doctor fftych in a section dealing with textual hallucinations. How is that an actual name? ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I've been interested in hallucinations since my blind mother swore she could see her dead brother at the foot of her bed a day before she died. This book is an excellent examination of the many different types of altered perceptions and visual phenomena that can occur. It boasts ample reference to case studies and a huge bibliography for those who are interested in reading further.

Personally, I enjoy meditating and inducing out of body experiences. I enjoy the play of colours, the morphing of strange faces that come out of the dark and the sensation of flying over a landscape. Sometimes I am lucky enough to lucid dream, which I also find fascinating. Perhaps I am so interested in this visual work of my mind because I have arthritis and am not as mobile as I used to be, so these interactions offer me a form of freedom otherwise denied. Regardless, I enjoyed this book for its explanations and revelations. I would recommend. ( )
  KatiaMDavis | Dec 19, 2017 |
As reliably readable as ever; however there's just not enough variety of subject here to fill a book. Started skimming at p 30. Put it away for good about p 80. ( )
  pgiltner | Oct 30, 2017 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 50 (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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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Oliver Sacksprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ruiter, PonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woren, DanReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.

» see all 9 descriptions

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