Erin O'Riordan's Reviews > Hallucinations

Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks
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Oct 04, 12

bookshelves: amazon-vine-picks
Read from October 01 to 03, 2012

Having come from an educational background in psychology, I've read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat & Other Clinical Tales and An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales and count them both among my "permanent keeper" books. Oliver Sacks' skill as a storyteller and a neurologist is fascinating. I learned that the actor Silas Weir Mitchell, who plays Monroe on 'Grimm,' is named for a 19th-century physician ancestor who experimented with mescaline and quantified his hallucinations, and also pioneered the term "phantom limb" in medical literature. The migraine chapter very much reminded me of Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography, which I read in college; Todd Lincoln's alleged "insanity" was very likely to have been, at least in part, due to migraines, which in rare cases can cause hallucinations. In fact, probably the most surprising thing about this book is that hallucinations, whether they be visual, auditory or smells, are much more likely to have observable, organic causes than to be symptomatic of "losing one's mind." For any lay person who enjoys scientific writing and glimpses into how the human mind works from the neurologist's point of view, this book will be entertaining and informative. The only thing that's slightly disappointing about it was that I wanted a little more detail about some of the anecdotes. I really wanted to know more about what Sacks meant by concluding that Charles Dickens had "a haunted mind," for example.
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10/01/2012 page 155
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