Daniel Solera's Reviews > An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales

An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks
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's review
Jul 15, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: science, psychology

Oliver Sacks will make you think, and on top of being a great series of remarkable case studies, An Anthropologist on Mars is a fascinatingly profound read.

I had always supposed that a person born blind, upon regaining sight through a modern operation, would represent the ultimate revelatory moment, one that would parallel the release of the prisoners in Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". One of Sacks' case studies is such a person, and without spoiling anything, his situation was not as pleasant.

Sacks investigates not just the quotidian habits of the seven people he studies, but actually attempts to see the world through their eyes. He builds a sense of "self" with each of his patients and builds models of the world, filtered through their unique perspective. His cases include a painter who loses his ability to perceive color, an autistic child with brilliant artistic skills, an autistic, middle-aged woman with a PhD, a seasoned surgeon with Tourette's Syndrome, and several others.

This book is written with a delicate appreciation for the frailty of the human psyche, as well as a loving charm for the awe-inspiring people whom Sacks studies. For anyone with interests in psychology with a metaphysical slant, this is a must-read.

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