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To these seven narratives of neurological disorder Dr. Sacks brings the same humanity, poetic observation, and infectious sense of wonder that are apparent in his bestsellers Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. These men, women, and one extraordinary child emerge as brilliantly adaptive personalities, whose conditions have not so much debilitated them as ushered them into another reality.
Here are seven detailed and fascinating portraits of neurological patients, including a surgeon consumed by the compulsive tics of Tourette's syndrome unless he is operating; an artist who loses all sense of color in a car accident, but finds a new sensibility and creative power in black and white; and an autistic professor who cannot decipher the simplest social exchange between humans, but has built a career out of her intuitive understanding of animal behavior.
Awakenings -- which inspired the major motion picture -- is the remarkable story of a group of patients who contracted sleeping-sickness during the great epidemic just after World War I. Frozen for decades in a trance-like state, these men and women were given up as hopeless until 1969, when Dr. Oliver Sacks gave them the then-new drug L-DOPA, which had an astonishing, explosive, "awakening" effect. Dr. Sacks recounts the moving case histories of his patients, their lives, and the extraordinary transformations which went with their reintroduction to a changed world.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Awakenings; A Leg to Stand On; The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales; Seeing Voicesby Oliver Sacks
Four of Sacks' books in one volume, that form a canon of the most fascinating, enlightening, and inspiring medical writing of our age.
In his introduction to The Best American Science Writing 2003, Dr. Oliver Sacks, whom the New York Times has called "the poet laureate of medicine," writes that "the best science writing ... cannot be completely 'objective' -- how can it be when science itself is so human an activity? -- but it is never self-indulgently subjective either. It is, at best, a wonderful fusion, as factual as a news report, as imaginative as a novel." It is with this definition of "good" science writing in mind that Dr. Sacks has selected the twenty-five extraordinary pieces that make up the latest installment of this acclaimed annual. This year, Peter Canby travels into the heart of remote Africa to track a remarkable population of elephants; Atul Gawande shows us the way doctors learn their skills by performing supposedly routine procedures on unsuspecting patients. With candor and tenderness, Floyd Skloot observes the toll Alzheimer's disease is taking on his ninety-one-year-old mother, and is fascinated by the memories she retains. Marcelo Gleiser asks: If we are the universe's sole intelligent species, then what must we do to be good citizens of the cosmos? Natalie Angier writes about the challenge of traveling to distant stars. Gunjan Sinha explores the mating behavior of the common prairie vole and what it reveals about the human pattern of monogamy. Michael Klesius attempts to solve what Darwin called "an abominable mystery": How did flowers originate? Lawrence Osborne tours a farm where a genetically modified goat produces the silk of spiders in its milk. Joseph D'Agnese visits a home for retired medical research chimps. And in the collection's final piece, Richard C. Lewontin and Richard Levins reflect on how the work of Stephen Jay Gould demonstrated the value of taking a radical approach to science. As this series firmly attests, science writing has achieved a central place in our culture, and one can posit that the reason why has to do with the special thrill of discovery that a cogent piece of science writing can elicit. As Dr. Sacks writes of Stephen Jay Gould -- to whose memory this year's anthology is dedicated -- an article of his "was never predictable, never dry, could not be imitated or mistaken for anybody else's." The same can be said of all of the writing contained in contributions to this diverse collection "that can be enjoyed by laymen, scientists, and writers alike" (Nature).
Hallucinations, for most people, imply madness. But there are many different types of non-psychotic hallucination caused by various illnesses or injuries, by intoxication--even, for many people, by falling sleep. From the elementary geometrical shapes that we see when we rub our eyes to the complex swirls and blind spots and zigzags of a visual migraine, hallucination takes many forms. At a higher level, hallucinations associated with the altered states of consciousness that may come with sensory deprivation or certain brain disorders can lead to religious epiphanies or conversions. Drawing on a wealth of clinical examples from his own patients as well as historical and literary descriptions, Oliver Sacks investigates the fundamental differences and similarities of these many sorts of hallucinations, what they say about the organization and structure of our brains, how they have influenced every culture's folklore and art, and why the potential for hallucination is present in us all.
Oliver Sacks has always been fascinated by islands--their remoteness, their mystery, above all the unique forms of life they harbor. For him, islands conjure up equally the romance of Melville and Stevenson, the adventure of Magellan and Cook, and the scientific wonder of Darwin and Wallace. Drawn to the tiny Pacific atoll of Pingelap by intriguing reports of an isolated community of islanders born totally color-blind, Sacks finds himself setting up a clinic in a one-room island dispensary, where he listens to these achromatopic islanders describe their colorless world in rich terms of pattern and tone, luminance and shadow. And on Guam, where he goes to investigate the puzzling neurodegenerative paralysis endemic there for a century, he becomes, for a brief time, an island neurologist, making house calls with his colleague John Steele, amid crowing cockerels, cycad jungles, and the remains of a colonial culture. The islands reawaken Sacks' lifelong passion for botany--in particular, for the primitive cycad trees, whose existence dates back to the Paleozoic--and the cycads are the starting point for an intensely personal reflection on the meaning of islands, the dissemination of species, the genesis of disease, and the nature of deep geologic time. Out of an unexpected journey, Sacks has woven an unforgettable narrative which immerses us in the romance of island life, and shares his own compelling vision of the complexities of being human.
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. Copyright © Libri GmbH. All rights reserved.
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."
'A mine of treasures, a source of visions, a microcosm of human experience and suffering, the philosopher's stone: Migraineis a remarkable achievement' Sunday Telegraph Migraine is an age-old - the first recorded instances date back over two thousand years - and often debilitating condition, affecting a 'substantial minority' of the population across the globe. In this book, Oliver Sacks offers at once a medical account of its occurrence and management; an exploration of its physical, physiological, and psychological underpinnings and consequences; and a meditation on the nature and experience of health and illness. 'It delves into the workings of the brain with brilliant complexity, and should be required reading for migraine sufferers or those with an intellectual bent' Cosmopolitan 'Migraineis full of those wondrous insights that have made Oliver Sacks the most accessible and at the same time the most magisterial of doctors' Anita Brookner, Spectator 'Written with Sacks's customary insight and grace, no book has helped me understand more about the mind-body connection' Hilary Mantel, Mail on Sunday
In The Mind's Eye, Oliver Sacks tells the stories of people who are able to navigate the world and communicate with others despite losing what many of us consider indispensable senses and abilities: the power of speech, the capacity to recognize faces, the sense of three-dimensional space, the ability to read, the sense of sight. For all of these people, the challenge is to adapt to a radically new way of being in the world. There is Lilian, a concert pianist who becomes unable to read music and is eventually unable even to recognize everyday objects, and Sue, a neurobiologist who has never seen in three dimensions, until she suddenly acquires stereoscopic vision in her fifties. There is Pat, who reinvents herself as a loving grandmother and active member of her community, despite the fact that she has aphasia and cannot utter a sentence, and Howard, a prolific novelist who must find a way to continue his life as a writer even after a stroke destroys his ability to read. And there is Dr. Sacks himself, who tells the story of his own eye cancer and the bizarre and disconcerting effects of losing vision to one side. Sacks explores some very strange paradoxes-- people who can see perfectly well but cannot recognize their own children, and blind people who become hyper-visual or who navigate by tongue vision. He also considers more fundamental questions: How do we see? How do we think? How important is internal imagery or vision, for that matter? Why is it that, although writing is only five thousand years old, humans have a universal, seemingly innate, potential for reading? The Mind's Eye is a testament to the complexity of vision and the brain and to the power of creativity and adaptation. And it provides a whole new perspective on the power of language and communication, as we try to imagine what it is to see with another person's eyes, or another person's mind.
Sacks's own enthusiasm about the complex workings of the human mind (he teaches clinical neurology and psychiatry at Columbia U. ) becomes infectious in his writings. In this volume, he turns his attention to the many phenomena concerning music and the brain, relating the scientific explanations alongside numerous and compelling case studies. Sacks describes the effects of music--and different aspects of music--on ordinary individuals, musicians, and people who have had accidents or disabilities, in chapters on music and memory, musical hallucinations, music therapy, and perfect pitch, among other topics. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)
Since childhood, Oliver Sacks has been fascinated by ferns: an ancient class of plants able to survive and adapt in many climates. Along with a delightful group of fellow fern aficionados--mathematicians, poets, artists, and assorted botanists and birders--he embarks on an exploration of Southern Mexico, a region that is also rich in human history and culture. He muses on the origins of chocolate and mescal, pre-Columbian culture and hallucinogens, the vibrant sights and sounds of the marketplace, and the peculiar passions of botanists. What other species would comb ancient Zapotec ruins on their hands and knees, searching for a new type of fern? Combining Sacks's enthusiasm for natural history and the richness of humanity with his sharp and observant eye for detail, Oaxaca Journal is a rare treat.
The Paradoxical Brain focuses on a range of phenomena in clinical and cognitive neuroscience that are counter-intuitive and go against the grain of established thinking. The book covers a wide range of topics by leading researchers, including: * Superior performance after brain lesions or sensory loss * Return to normal function after a second brain lesion in neurological conditions * Paradoxical phenomena associated with human development * Examples where having one disease appears to prevent the occurrence of another disease * Situations where drugs with adverse effects on brain functioning may have beneficial effects in certain situations A better understanding of these interactions will lead to a better understanding of brain function and to the introduction of new therapeutic strategies. The book will be of interest to those working at the interface of brain and behaviour, including neuropsychologists, neurologists, psychiatrists and neuroscientists.
Like The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, this is a fascinating voyage into a strange and wonderful land, a provocative meditation on communication, biology, adaptation, and culture. In Seeing Voices, Oliver Sacks turns his attention to the subject of deafness, and the result is a deeply felt portrait of a minority struggling for recognition and respect -- a minority with its own rich, sometimes astonishing, culture and unique visual language, an extraordinary mode of communication that tells us much about the basis of language in hearing people as well. Seeing Voices is, as Studs Terkel has written, "an exquisite, as well as revelatory, work."From the Trade Paperback edition.
Sign language is, in the hands of its masters, a most beautiful and expressive language.
From his earliest days, Oliver Sacks, the distinguished neurologist who is also one of the most remarkable storytellers of our time, was irresistibly drawn to understanding the natural world. Born into a large family of doctors, metallurgists, chemists, physicists, and teachers, his curiosity was encouraged and abetted by aunts, uncles, parents, and older brothers. But soon after his sixth birthday, the Second World War broke out and he was evacuated from London, as were hundreds of thousands of children, to escape the bombing. Exiled to a school that rivaled Dickens's grimmest, fed on a steady diet of turnips and beetroots, tormented by a sadistic headmaster, and allowed home only once in four years, he felt desolate and abandoned. When he returned to London in 1943 at the age of ten, he was a changed, withdrawn boy, one who desperately needed order to make sense of his life. He was sustained by his secret passions: for numbers, for metals, and for finding patterns in the world around him. Under the tutelage of his "chemical" uncle, Uncle Tungsten, Sacks began to experiment with "the stinks and bangs" that almost define a first entry into chemistry: tossing sodium off a bridge to see it take fire in the water below; producing billowing clouds of noxious-smelling chemicals in his home lab. As his interests spread to investigations of batteries and bulbs, vacuum tubes and photography, he discovered his first great scientific heroes, men and women whose genius lay in understanding the hidden order of things and disclosing the forces that sustain and support the tangible world. There was Humphry Davy, the boyish chemist who delighted in sending flaming globules of metal shooting across his lab; Marie Curie, whose heroic efforts in isolating radium would ultimately lead to the unlocking of the secrets of the atom; and Dmitri Mendeleev, inventor of the periodic table, whose pursuit of the classification of elements unfolds like a detective story. Uncle Tungsten vividly evokes a time when virtual reality had not yet displaced a hands-on knowledge of the world. It draws us into a journey of discovery that reveals, through the enchantment and wonder of a childhood passion, the birth of an extraordinary and original mind. From the Hardcover edition.
Oliver Sacks' empathetic understanding and compelling storytelling ability have turned his accounts of his patients and his own life into literature, as evidenced in "Uncle Tungsten," "Stinks and Bangs," and "Cannery Row" from Uncle Tungsten; the Foreword and "Rose R." from Awakenings; "A Deaf World" from Seeing Voices; and excerpts from "Island Hopping" and "Pingelap" from The Island of the Colorblind.
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