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

by Oliver Sacks

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THE MAN WHO MISTOOK HIS WIFE FOR A HAT brings together twenty-four of Oliver Sacks’ most fascinating and beloved case studies. The patients in these pages are confronted with almost inconceivably strange neurological disorders; in Sacks’ telling, their stories are a profound testament to the adaptability of the human brain and the resilience of the human spirit.
Dr. Sacks treats each of his subjects—the amnesic fifty-year-old man who believes himself to be a young sailor in the Navy, the “disembodied” woman whose limbs have become alien to her, and of course the famous man who mistook his wife for a hat—with a deep respect for the unique individual living beneath the disorder. These tales inspire awe and empathy, allowing the reader to enter the uncanny worlds of those with autism, Alzheimer's, Tourette's syndrome, and other unfathomable neurological conditions.
“One of the great clinical writers of the 20th century” (The New York Times), Dr. Sacks brings to vivid life some of the most fundamental questions about identity and the human mind.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781623730000
Publisher: Odyssey Editions
Publication date: 07/21/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 35,637
File size: 800 KB

About the Author

Oliver Sacks was born in 1933 in London, England into a family of physicians and scientists (his mother was a surgeon and his father a general practitioner). He earned his medical degree at Oxford University (Queen’s College), and did residencies at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco and at UCLA. Since 1965, he has lived in New York, where he is a practicing neurologist. In July of 2007, he was appointed Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, and he was also designated the university’s first Columbia University Artist.
In 1966 Dr. Sacks began working as a consulting neurologist for a chronic care hospital in the Bronx where he encountered an extraordinary group of patients, many of whom had spent decades in strange, frozen states, like human statues, unable to initiate movement. He recognized these patients as survivors of the great pandemic of sleepy sickness that had swept the world from 1916 to 1927, and treated them with a then-experimental drug, L-DOPA, which enabled them to come back to life. They became the subjects of his book Awakenings, which later inspired a play by Harold Pinter (A Kind of Alaska) and the Oscar-nominated feature film (Awakenings) with Robert De Niro and Robin Williams.
Sacks is perhaps best known for his collections of case histories from the far borderlands of neurological experience, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and An Anthropologist on Mars, in which he describes patients struggling to live with conditions ranging from Tourette’s syndrome to autism, Parkinsonism, musical hallucination, epilepsy, phantom limb syndrome, schizophrenia, retardation, and Alzheimer’s disease.
His stories have resonated with millions of readers around the world, and they have also inspired a number of artistic adaptations. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat was the basis for a theatrical treatment, L'Homme Qui... by Peter Brook, and for a chamber opera by Michael Nyman.
He has investigated the world of deaf people and sign language in Seeing Voices, and a rare community of colorblind people in The Island of the Colorblind. He has written about his experiences as a doctor in Migraine and as a patient in A Leg to Stand On. He is also the author of a memoir, Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain and The Mind's Eye.
Sacks’ work, which has received support from the Guggenheim and Alfred P. Sloan Foundations, regularly appears in the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, as well as various medical journals. The New York Times has referred to Dr. Sacks as “the poet laureate of medicine,” and in 2002 he was awarded the Lewis Thomas Prize by Rockefeller University, which recognizes the scientist as poet. In 2008, Sacks was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He has an asteroid named in his honor (Asteroid 84928 Oliversacks).


New York, New York

Date of Birth:


Place of Birth:

London, England


B.M., B.Ch., Queen's College, Oxford, 1958

Table of Contents




1 The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

2 The Lost Mariner

3 The Disembodied Lady

4 The Man Who Fell out of Bed

5 Hands

6 Phantoms

7 On the Level

8 Eyes Right!

9 The President's Speech



10 Witty Ticcy Ray

11 Cupid's Disease

12 A Matter of Identity

13 Yes, Father-Sister

14 The Possessed page



15 Reminiscence

16 Incontinent Nostalgia

17 A Passage to India

18 The Dog Beneath the Skin

19 Murder

20 The Visions of Hildegard



21 Rebecca

22 A Walking Grove

23 The Twins

24 The Autist Artist


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