Jim's Reviews > The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
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's review
Jul 12, 2009

really liked it
Read in May, 2009

Hmmm.. what to say, what to say...
I did enjoy reading Sacks' observations and perceptions of his patients ('clients') with their various - and quite bizarre - ailments and conditions, but only on the level of intellectual curiosity.
On another (visceral?) level my reactions were much more complex and I'm not entirely sure I can communicate effectively how reading this book made me feel.
Trying to analyse these feelings, I had an enormous empathy for the souls concerned and was greatly moved by their predicaments; invariably finding it impossible to comprehend just how irretrievably their lives had altered as a result of their afflictions.
I felt pity for them too and in so doing often experienced a mixture of shame (why, I can't really articulate) and more than a touch of fear - 'there but for the grace' et cetera.
I'm glad that I've at last had the opportunity to read some Sacks, but I don't think this overly sensitive, imaginative, borderline hypocondriac will be reading anymore.
It did remind me of a quote, I forget who from, that "We do not have souls - we are souls; we have a body" which is a bit Ghost in the Machine isn't it? I only realised recently just how clever that Sting chappie is *grin*
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Reading Progress

05/17 page 22
9.44%
05/19 page 73
31.33% 1 comment
05/21 page 97
41.63% 2 comments
05/18 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Beejay (new) - added it

Beejay Hi Jim,

Will very much look forward to your comments on this one. Sachs is so fascinating as the subject of an interview and for years I have been promising myself to read one of his books but somehow never get around to it. I notice Eileen read it also. The title alone is enough to draw the reader in, isn't it?






message 2: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim Beejay wrote: "Hi Jim,

Will very much look forward to your comments on this one. Sachs is so fascinating as the subject of an interview and for years I have been promising myself to read one of his books but so..."


he does write well and I liked how he handled his own involvement with the patients - didn't overplay it or personalise overtly - somehow managed an 'interested' distance which worked (imo) and allowed the proper focus on the condition being diagnosed and (where possible) treated.



message 3: by Ka (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ka if it makes you feel better, reading any sort of psychological text that describes various problems makes everyone think "oh no, I do that sometimes! That sounds kind of familiar! Crap, am I suffering from ___??" Luckily, this is usually overcome by remembering that everyone has aspects of many conditions within themselves, but it's only diagnosed as the condition itself if it's ruining your life.

In other words, nearly everyone has something they are obsessive-compulsive about, for example, but it's only diagnosed as OCD if you literally are so obsessed with something that it ruins your life. You wash your hands till they crack and bleed and then keep washing. Something like that. So if you see anything like yourself reflected in these stories, don't feel too worried! Very few people's brains operate without any problems whatsoever, or we'd all be geniuses with perfect memories. :)


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