The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: And Other Clinical Tales

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: And Other Clinical Tales

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by Oliver Sacks
     
 

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In his most extraordinary book, “one of the great clinical writers of the twentieth 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

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Overview

In his most extraordinary book, “one of the great clinical writers of the twentieth 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.”

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Clarence E. Olsen St. Louis Post-Dispatch A provocative introduction to the marvels of the human mind...

Noel Perrin Chicago Sun-Times Dr. Sacks's best book.... One sees a wise, compassionate and very literate mind at work in these 20 stories, nearly all remarkable, and many the kind that restore one's faith in humanity.

New York Magazine Dr. Sacks's most absorbing book.... His tales are so compelling that many of them serve as eerie metaphors not only for the condition of modern medicine but of modern man.

Kirkus Reviews
If you enjoy medical case histories that are sensitive yet lively, weird but informative, then Sacks' book is your ticket. A neurologist who writes with wit and zest, he will fascinate you with stories of patients like the man in the title--a professor who couldn't recognize faces and who patted the tops of fire hydrants believing them to be children. Nietschze asked whether we could do without disease in our lives and the author explores this interesting concept with a rare and invigorating philosophic sense. Sacks is no ordinary practitioner; his patients suffer from rare complaints like Korshakov's syndrome, Tourette's and other afflictions, some of which make the patient unsure of the reality of his own body. Their tragedies and their courage are joined with the author's astute professionalism and humanity to make for a riveting foray into the unknown. The history of these strange cases and the state of the art of medicine are deftly probed. Yet in the midst of all this tragedy, there is an eerie comic quality. Take the 80-year-old ex-prostitute who discovers a new liveliness and euphoria, which she enjoys immensely. However, the reason for this is a recurrence of an old syphilis infection. Does she want to be totally cured and lose this new found ebullience? Not really. She relishes "Cupid's disease's" strange excitation of her cerebral cortex too much. To Sacks' credit, he agrees with her. This book ranks with the very best of its genre. It will inform and entertain anyone, especially those who find medicine an intriguing and mysterious art.
New York Magazine
Dr. Sacks' most absorbing book... His tales are so compelling that many of them serve as eerie metaphors not only for the condition of modern medicine but of modern man.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684853949
Publisher:
Touchstone
Publication date:
04/28/1998
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
11,856
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.43(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

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 A Leg to Stand On.

Brief Biography

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

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The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: And Other Clinical Tales 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading 'The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat' by Oliver Sacks. I'm so glad that I bought this book. The author is a neurologist who describes some of his most fascinating patients. I feel like these characters will stick with me for the rest of my life. Among the characters you'll meet in this book are a music teacher(the title character) who can no longer recognize faces, twins diagnosed retarded who can generate six-digit primes, and a murderer who forgets his crime. There's also a sailor who is convinced that it is still 1965. The cases themselves are amazing but Sacks treats their stories with a beautiful kind of dignity. Sacks never loses sight of the person, of the soul, that he treats. This book left me with a deep sense of gratitude and a fresh hope in humanity.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This great read was long overdue and I could not put it down. I would recommend this story, filled with love and courage, to anyone. Shannon Morgan
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was very fascinating and really showed how people in the clinical cases and people with the same brain disorders or brain malfunctions lived. The book attempted to explain how, but more importantly, what was lost or gained because of the person's trauma or neurological disorder. It achieved its goal and showed a view from both the patient and the doctor. Even though the human mind may not be functioning properly, when closely looked at, the person has gained more than lost without them knowing it. This is the beauty of the brain and all of nature.
AMcGoey More than 1 year ago
I must confess that I have a love-hate relationship with Dr. Sacks' writing as this is the second title of his that I have read. He is brilliant. I am not. His writing and story telling is remarkable & entertaining - & requires me to always have a dictionary present. I love how this book was written in short vignettes as it made it easy to read a chapter before my 2 children pulled my attention away. I also love how he incorporates the arts into the science of neurology as it is perfect for my science students at a performing arts high school to relate to their own lives. If you are fascinated by the mysteries of the brain, love science, love the arts, or love writing with meticulous grammar and advanced vocabulary, then this book is a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oliver Sacks' The Man Who Mistook his WIfe for a Hat was an teresting read, unlike anything I have previously encountered. It told the stories of several mentally and physically impaired patients struggling to live a normal life. Sacks is a neirologist who wrote about what each of his patients were experiencing and how it affected their life. He described it in such humanistic terms you could almost feel what that patient was enduring through the pages. Sacks not only gave the scientific explanation, but also included what was gained and lost in that person's life due to their disability. The book took you from the comfort of your own life of normalcy, and exposed you to what life would be like without a perfectly functioning body. I would reccomend this read to everyone; it allows you to see life through new eyes and gravitates you into the office of a neurologist with some pretty interesting patients whose stories give you an insight to a side of reality you otherwise wouldn't encounter.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dr Sacks is a neurologist and a people observer rolled into one..it is amazing how he narrates neurological disorders not just in medical terms but also in a humanistic way..reading the book transports you from the comforts of your normal life to the world of a lost memory and other abberations with a sense of kindness and sympathy to the people with neurological disorders. Definitely a refreshing medical book written in an artistic way accesible by our humanistic and sympathetic nature as humans..
Guest More than 1 year ago
There are few science or medical writers who have the ability to make their case- histories so vivid and interesting as Sachs does. He writes with tremendous insight and sympathy about worlds of mental aberration and strangeness which truly are beyond ordinary imagining. The world seems a stranger and more troubling place after reading this book. But the reader too has the sense that he has been given insights into areas of reality he would never by himself have come across.
Pineapples More than 1 year ago
Oliver Sacks The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales, is a great book. This book is a wonderful insight to the world of neurology, and the bizarre medical conditions of the patients. This book describes each case with both a medical view and a sympathetic view about a man that genuinely sees his patients as something other than an astonishing abnormality. Sacks recounts his many tales about individuals with short term memory loss and cerebral vision impairments, he talks about how amazingly his patients have been able to overcome all of the odds and actually live in peace with their unfairly given disadvantage. This book gives readers a bigger insight into someone's life who has to deal with a struggle constantly every day, and shows how they live through it, some of the patients in the book can't even see life without their disorder, and eventually learn to (in its own different way) love it. As well as treating the patients, Sacks also connects with them on an emotional level, actually getting to them as a person. This book is definitely worth worth reading, although some of the diction might be a little bit difficult to comprehend due to the medical terminology. I can say i had my dictionary right by my side, to look up some of the words that were a little difficult to understand. All in all this book is amazing and I very much think that reading this book will be a new and amazing learning experience.
AnnieBM More than 1 year ago
Sacks thoughtful narration and reflection on these clinical tales provides a rich investigation into human nature and value. He subtlely questions the typical understanding and treatment of those deemed outside the normal. Beyond the consideration of these particular cases, I found this exposition helpful for thinking about the diversity of human spirit and intelligence and the implications for relationships and teaching. I recommend the book for any curious about human nature and psychology as well as those who teach or deal with special needs people.
RebeccaScaglione More than 1 year ago
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks is a collection of intriguing instances of neurology in some of his patients. Oliver talks about these patients and their strange but interesting disorders. For instance, the title character has a difficult time seeing certain things like faces and other images, and in one instance, he pulls on his wife's head because he thinks it's his hat. One of my favorite excerpts is about a neurological disorder of the temporal lobe in the brain, which can be called "musical epilepsy."  Basically, a few elderly women were experiencing seizures which would cause music to be playing loudly in their heads. Sacks said, "Conversation was far from easy, partly because of Mrs. O'C's deafness, but more because I was repeatedly drowned out by songs-she could only hear me through the softer ones." Sounds humorous, but the patients couldn't "adjust" the volume or "choose" their songs, so it's kind of like being in the car when another person is in charge of the radio. In between the vignettes, there was a lot of doctoral gibberish.  Well, to me it was gibberish.  But I read as much as I could and skimmed through the rest of those parts. If these strange neurological instances sound like something you'd want to read about, pick up a copy of the book.  Just keep in mind that you might need to or want to skim through the more technical aspects of a lot of these stories, which mainly occurs in the postscript. What's the strangest medical condition you know of? Thanks for reading, Rebecca @ Love at First Book
KiwiKim More than 1 year ago
Oliver Sacks has a great ability to tell a story and suck you in. These short stories about real cases are intriguing and thoughtful. I am eager to read his other works as well.
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