O! what Man will do fore a Rime!

Self-proclaimed bibliophile, culture nut and nerdfighter. English lit. and linguistics geek. Future career in publishing.

The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales - Oliver Sacks

Homing in on his memory, I found an extreme and extraordinary loss of recent memory -- so that whatever was said or shown to him was apt to be forgotten in a few seconds' time. Thus I laid out my watch, my tie, and my glasses on the desk, covered them, and asked him to remember these. Then, after a minute's chat, I asked him what I had put under the cover. He remembered none of them -- or indeed that I had even asked him to remember.

- Excerpt from "The Lost Mariner"

p. 27



Note: The review below was taken directly from my Goodreads account.


The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales is about cases Oliver Sacks has undertaken. These cases are all taken prior to 1985, so yeah it is a little dated and so the last section about savants (or people with intellectual disabilities who are successful in a specific field, it's a little hard to tell which) is not as interesting (to me) as the people with neurological disorders like the eponymous case. Also keep in mind that the last section calls those with intellectual disabilities "retardates" and "idiot savants" -- while I don't doubt that Sacks was approaching the topic without bias, the language used in the 1980s is nowhere near as nuanced as today's language in regard to those with disabilities. So, yeah, if you're reading this and that kind of language is inflammatory to you, remember that 30 years makes a large difference in acceptability.

What I found is that these cases were a lot sadder than I was expecting. I was kind of expecting a bunch of cases where I would be amused by the antics of the patients. Except I was just sad with a lot of them. Especially the first section, which is about people losing something, like memories or knowing features.

I liked this book, but I wasn't enthralled by it. The commas every few words were not pleasant, but I think that's Sacks's style. It made it a little hard to read though.

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