A Leg to Stand On

( 2 )

Overview

Dr. Oliver Sacks's books Awakenings, An Anthropologist on Mars and the bestselling The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat have been acclaimed for their extraordinary compassion in the treatment of patients affected with profound disorders.
In A Leg to Stand On, it is Sacks himself who is the patient: an encounter with a bull on a desolate mountain in Norway has left him with a severely damaged leg. But what should be a routine recuperation is actually the beginning of a strange ...

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A Leg to Stand On

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Overview

Dr. Oliver Sacks's books Awakenings, An Anthropologist on Mars and the bestselling The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat have been acclaimed for their extraordinary compassion in the treatment of patients affected with profound disorders.
In A Leg to Stand On, it is Sacks himself who is the patient: an encounter with a bull on a desolate mountain in Norway has left him with a severely damaged leg. But what should be a routine recuperation is actually the beginning of a strange medical journey when he finds that his leg uncannily no longer feels part of his body. Sacks's brilliant description of his crisis and eventual recovery is not only an illuminating examination of the experience of patienthood and the inner nature of illness and health but also a fascinating exploration of the physical basis of identity.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Jonathan Raban The Sunday Times (London) A remarkable, generous, vivid and thoroughly intelligent piece of writing — a 'neurological novel,' as Sacks calls it.

Jerome Bruner The New York Review of Books A neurologist in [the] great tradition... [this is] a narrative comparable to Conrad's The Secret Sharer.

Vic Sussman The Washington Post Book World In calling for a neurology of the soul and a deeper and more humane medicine, Sacks's remarkable book raises issues of profound importance for everyone interested in humane health care and the human application of science.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684853956
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 4/29/1998
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 460,202
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks was born in London and educated in London, Oxford, California, and New York. He is professor of clinical neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He is the author of many books, including Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

Biography

"I think writing and language are not just to articulate or communicate, but they are also to investigate," the writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks once said. "For me, writing and medicine, writing and science, are not separate: they entail each other." Sacks grew up in a large and prodigiously gifted family of scientists; with their encouragement, he set up his own chemistry lab and spent his days in a swirl of sulfurous fumes and smoke. He was also fascinated by biographies, and spent hours poring over the lives of great scientists like Dmitri Mendeleev, Humphrey Davy,and Marie Curie. When the chaos of World War II and traumatic experiences at boarding school intruded on the "lyrical, mystical perceptions" of Sacks' childhood, he clung to scientific knowledge as a means of ordering and understanding the universe.

After his medical training at Oxford, Sacks migrated to the States to pursue a career in neurology research. But he made a clumsy lab researcher. "I was always dropping things or breaking things," he explained in a lecture, "and eventually they said: 'Get out! Go work with patients. They're less important.'" Sacks went to work at Beth Abraham Hospital in the Bronx, where he was struck by the sight of patients who had survived encephalitis lethargica, the "sleeping sickness." The patients were nearly immobile, but the nurses who cared for them insisted that there were living personalities behind the frozen masks, and Sacks believed the nurses. The story of his work with these patients is told in Sacks' 1973 book Awakenings, which inspired a movie starring Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro and also formed the basis of a play by Harold Pinter.

But Sacks is perhaps best known for his collections of case histories (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, An Anthropologist on Mars et al.), which probe the experiences of people with disorders and rare neurological conditions. In telling their stories, he often questions our assumptions about the nature of human consciousness. Part what distinguishes Sacks' work from the traditional case study is his interest in how a patient functions with a disorder, not just how he or she is impaired by it.

Sacks has also drawn on personal experience for wonderfully resonant scientific memoirs that recall his remarkable family, people who have influenced and inspired him, and his lifelong love of medicine and physical science. Meanwhile, he continues to work with patients, to understand them through writing about them, and to point his readers toward new ways of understanding themselves. As Thomas P. Sakmar, interim president of Rockefeller University, said in awarding Sacks the Lewis Thomas Prize: "Sacks presses us to follow him into uncharted regions of human experience -- and compels us to realize, once there, that we are confronting only ourselves."

Good To Know

As a child, Sacks was fascinated by the periodic table of the elements at the Science Museum in London. His boyhood love of chemistry hasn't waned: according to an article in Wired, Sacks owns half a dozen T-shirts with the periodic table printed on them, along with periodic-table coffee mugs, tote bags and mousepads.

Sacks's memoir Uncle Tungsten inspired the creation of Theodore Gray's Periodic Table Table, a wooden table representing Mendeleev's table of the elements and containing samples of each element. Sacks later paid a visit to see the Periodic Table Table -- wearing, of course, one of his periodic-table T-shirts.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      1933
    2. Place of Birth:
      London, England
    1. Education:
      B.M., B.Ch., Queen's College, Oxford, 1958

Table of Contents

Preface

Acknowledgments

One The Mountain

Two Becoming A Patient

Three Limbo

Four Quickening

Five Solvitur Ambulando

Six Convalescence

Seven Understanding

Afterword (1993)

Annotated Bibliography

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2000

    Seeing the Subtle

    Anyone who doesn't like this book just 'doesn't get it.' This is a brilliant look at awareness and the interconnectedness of body and mind. There is no other writer of neuroscience topics who so grasps all that goes into consciousness as does Oliver Sacks. He has a genius of seeing. And what a writer! How I would love to meet him.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 1999

    A Doctor becomes the Patient!

    A very candid and indepth account of Dr. Sacks experience with a serious leg injury and with his physical 'alienation' of the leg and journey through the patient's world of helplessness and despair to rejoining the world of the whole and healthy. He leaves out no thought or feeling; neurotic turns, ugly jealousy of the whole in body; all is revealed and shared in a spirit of empathy and acceptance of a journey he can share with others. A solid and charming journal and wealth of contemplation on the variety of states of health and well-being.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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