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

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  146,386 ratings  ·  5,755 reviews
f a man has lost a leg or an eye, he knows he has lost a leg or an eye; but if he has lost a self - himself - he cannot know it, because he is no longer there to know it. Dr. Oliver Sacks recounts the stories of patients struggling to adapt to often bizarre worlds of neurological disorder. Here are people who can no longer recognize everyday objects or those they love; who ...more
Paperback, First Touchstone Edition, 243 pages
Published April 2nd 1998 by Touchstone (first published 1985)
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Maria Paiz No book is too advanced or inappropriate. Give it a shot! If you don't like it, you can always let it sit on your shelf for a few more years. :)
Wynne Lee Best way to find out "how he did it" is to read Sacks' last book, his autobiography "On the Move", which was published (April 2015) a few months…moreBest way to find out "how he did it" is to read Sacks' last book, his autobiography "On the Move", which was published (April 2015) a few months before his death in August 2015. His own story is every bit as amazing as those of his many patients & other phenomena (e.g. cycads) in the world he loved so much. Bet you'll be surprised by his unique, gutsy, sometimes very challenging life that was full of gusto, anguish, false starts, triumphs, hardships & many keen friendships. A great man IMO. (less)

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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  146,386 ratings  ·  5,755 reviews


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Patrick
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's rare that I read non-fiction. It's just not my bag.

That said, this is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read. I'm guessing I've brought it up hundreds of times in conversation.

It's written by a neurologist who works with people who have stranger-than-usual brain issues. And not only are the cases interesting, but the way he writes about the people invovled is really lovely. It's not clinical at all. Not judgemental. It's very... loving, I would say. It's in
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Dru
Feb 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Dear Dr. Sacks,
On page 112 of the paperback edition of your book, the second paragraph begins with the following sentence:
"And with this, no feeling that he has lost feeling (for the feeling he has lost), no feeling that he has lost the depth, that unfathomable, mysterious, myriad-levelled depth which somehow defines identity or reality."
I've read this sentence at least twelve times, and I still don't even have the slightest inkling of what the hell it means. What is the subject? What is th
...more
Sheffy
Jul 05, 2007 rated it it was ok
Despite so many people recommending this book, my high expectations were disappointed. Yes, it's perversely interesting to hear about neurological conundrums that afflict people in peculiar ways, but Sacks isn't a particularly good writer, nor does he have a good grasp on his audience. At times he obliquely refers to medical syndromes or footnotes other neurologists, as if he is writing for a technical physician audience, but on the whole his stories are too simplistic to engage such an audience ...more
Supratim
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, medical
When I had come across the title of the book on Goodreads, I had mistakenly assumed to it to be a humour novel. But, when I finally found the book during one of my book hunts, I learnt that it is a non-fiction book where the author, a neurologist as well as a gifted writer, has presented some fascinating case studies about his patients with unique afflictions.

The book has been divided into 4 parts wherein each section contains the case studies pertaining to a particular category of n
...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Dec 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is not only an informative work on neurological disorders, but a humbling meditation on the beauty of imperfection. Through entering the worlds of a number of "limited" individuals, Sacks reveals the brain's (and therefore the individual's) remarkable ability to overcompensate for cognitive deficiencies. As a result of these heightened states of perception, the often frightening and infinitely compelling worlds of each individual are manifested in the means with which they organize and enga ...more
PattyMacDotComma
Jul 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anybody with the slightest interest in the mind
10★
This is such a classic that I can’t possibly “review” it, so I’ll just share some stories. Oliver Sacks was the much-loved, highly regarded neurologist who opened up the world of the mind and brain not only to doctors but also to the public.

The well-known movie, Awakenings, where he was played by Robin Williams, was based on his successful treatment of catatonic patients (including Leonard, played by Robert De Niro), “frozen” for decades after being afflicted with encephalitis. Sacks’s perception and i
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Simon Clark
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've read a lot of popular science books in my time, and in one way or another they have always felt cut from same cloth. Similar language used, similar structure, drawing on the same inspirations. After a while it almost feels like you are reading the same book over and over again, with only slight variations in content.
So The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat came as a complete breath of fresh air. A blast, in fact. Oliver Sacks has written a book rather unlike anything I've read before, b
...more
Tim
May 06, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book because I am a fan of Oliver Sacks and his various speaking engagements (lectures, public radio interviews, etc)...but I have to say I was fairly nonplussed with it.

While the case studies in and of themselves make for interesting reading, the tone of the writing is fairly "clinical" and...removed. Despite the review blurbs stating that these are "personal" and "touchingly human" looks at neurological disorders, I saw only a few glimpses of this warmth (an exampl
...more
Mona
Apr 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I first heard about this book when my biology professor mentioned it in class in reference to right-brain and left-brain disorders. Just last year, I had the good fortune to see the author himself - Dr. Sacks - speak at the university in my hometown. He was a dynamic and entertaining speaker and from then on, I resolved to try out his books. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat matched its author. The book is a collection of case studies on Dr. Sacks's patients with neurological disorders. Sac ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales, Oliver Sacks
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales is a 1985 book by neurologist Oliver Sacks describing the case histories of some of his patients. Sacks chose the title of the book from the case study of one of his patients which he names "Dr. P" that has visual agnosia, a neurological condition that leaves him unable to recognize even familiar faces and objects. Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat b
...more
Barbara
Dec 23, 2017 rated it liked it

Dr. Oliver Sacks was a physician, author, and professor of neurology who published several books about individuals with neurological problems. In this book Dr. Sacks discusses patients whose brain malfunctions cause a variety of 'maladies' including: a musician who lost the ability to see faces or recognize familiar objects; a former sailor who believed the year was permanently 1945; a man who thought his leg belonged to someone else; and other unusual afflictions.

To provide a feel for the book
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Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat is a book about people with neurological disorders centred on issues with perception and understanding the world.

The brain receives so much information each second, information we will never be consciously aware of. But what happens when the pathways start to break down? Weird and wonderful things evidently. Sacks reminisces over some truly bizarre case studies he encountered over his career. And, like the title suggests, one involves a man who mistook his wi
...more
Hamad
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

“If a man has lost a leg or an eye, he knows he has lost a leg or an eye; but if he has lost a self—himself—he cannot know it, because he is no longer there to know it.”

🌟 I have been intrigued by this book’s title as soon as I first heard it. I thought it was a fiction book but then discovered that it is Non-fiction and I decided to read it this year as part of my challenge to read some non-fiction books.

🌟 The/>
...more
Greta
Jul 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
I guess I'm just not smart enough to fully appreciate this book.
But I do realize that an awful lot can go wrong with our brains, and when that should happen to me, I would be very lucky with such an empathetic and humane doctor.
Yet, his writing is dry and clinical, which is a shame because there were really interesting cases. I enjoyed reading some parts of the book, but not enough to feel satisfied about reading this book.
Especially the chapter "The Visions of Hildegard", in which he describ
...more
Muhammed Hebala
[English / Arabic review]
الريفيو العربي بعد الريفيو الإنجليزي


" Is there any 'place' in the world for a man who is like an island, who cannot be accultured, made part of the main? Can 'the main' accommodate, make room for, the singular? "

That was the main inquiry of this insightful, compassionate, moving and Remarkable book.. the lucidity and power of a gifted writer.

A wonderful book … full of wonder, wonders and wondering. Sacks brings to these often unhappy people understanding/>
...more
Mark Lawrence
Jun 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an utterly fascinating book, a collection of case studies by psychologist Oliver Sacks, presented in an eminently readable style.

These studies deal with the most extraordinary mental conditions, often arising from damage to the brain, from the title case where a man in full charge of his faculties is unable to identify the purpose of any object (thus his mistaking his wife for a hat) to individuals who, again otherwise wholly reasonable, will deny ownership of one of their limbs.
<
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Laala Kashef Alghata
This book isn't easy to review, because it's not a novel, or short story collection; it's not poetry, or essays. It's straight up non-fiction in the form of case studies and clinical analysis of different bizarre neurological cases that Oliver Sacks came across. There's everything from the titular character -- a man who really did mistake his wife for his hat -- to people with Tourette's, both severe and manageable; from excesses to people with IQs of 60 but who possess amazing talents.
...more
Glenn Sumi
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Review to come. This was a hard one to rate. Lots of 5 star sections but some needless academic jargon, particularly in the introductions to sections. I can see why this is considered a classic. Such fascinating case histories. The brain is truly a mysterious thing.
Deedee
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book years ago and maybe Sacks was a more skilled doctor than writer but a lot will depend on why you're reading this book to begin with. I felt, still do, that Dr. Sacks humanised his patients and that's not necessarily easy given the subject. The brain has such layers of complexity that are not fully understood. Sacks attempts to issue clarity on the matter, no pun meant, it could happen to you or a loved one~ trauma, a stroke, lasting or transient confusion. To have someone in you ...more
Steve
Aug 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
Over the course of his long career as a neurologist, Sacks has had plenty of interesting cases. It makes you appreciate what a complex organ the brain is when you see all the different ways that impairments can manifest themselves. Sacks is at his best when he's describing the most unusual quirks. The first chapter -- the case that gives the book its title -- is a good lead-in to the weird behaviors that follow.

At the time the book was written, these disorders must have seemed even m
...more
India Clamp
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing

To me sinful chocolatey wisdom is conveyed best in stories and “The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat” presents twenty-four such anecdotes (neurological histories) by Dr. Sacks (author of Awakenings and A Leg to Stand On). Within, words becoming “émettant de la lumière” serving as shining diagnostic gems for people in his care. London born Sacks is soft-spoken and spellbinding in his telling of stories---including his terminal one.

When Dr. Oliver Sacks was diagnosed with terminal cancer he sa
...more
Joseph Spuckler
Nov 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
A few quick notes. I picked this up as an audiobook from Kindle Unlimited and although some of the medical terminology was beyond my normal understanding I found the book fascinating, but probably not in the way it was intended. Our senses take in all of the information we use and it is the brain that takes that information and puts it into, what we think is, normal perspective. There are common things like color blindness which leads me to wonder how that world would look. It is not devastating ...more
Collin
Apr 12, 2008 rated it did not like it
Dry. Reading this book is like eating saltine crackers without anything to drink. He only briefly discusses the cases (these are, ahem, the interesting parts of the book) and then embarks on tedious philosophical discussions about neurology. He does seem very proud of himself and his education, though; I will give him that as a backhanded compliment.
Bettie
Jan 16, 2009 rated it liked it
"the man who mistook his patients for a literary career"

Oliver Sacks dies in New York aged 82
Jill Hutchinson
Jun 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, medicine
I was very taken with Dr. Saks' book Hallucinations, so I thought I would give this one a try....how could you go wrong with that title???

It is collection of case histories of the author's patients who were afflicted with brain trauma to the right hemisphere which caused rather unusual symptoms and behaviors.. Indeed one of the patients mistook his wife for his hat and also tried to shake hands with a grandfather clock. Although the majority of neurology/neuropsychological studies concentrate on th
...more
Shaikha
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"He both was and wasn't aware of this deep, tragic loss in himself, loss of himself. If a man has lost a leg or an eye, he knows he has lost a leg or an eye; but if he has lost a self -himself- he cannot know it, because he is no longer there to know it."

If you enjoy medical case histories that are sensitive yet lively, weird but informative, then Sacks' book is your ticket.

A neurologist that will fascinate you with stories of patients like the man in the title: a professor who couldn'
...more
daisy
Oct 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 stars, but only just. Proper review to come at some point.

Probably wouldn't recommend this if you're very new to neuroscience/psychology, though. The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean is a much better place to start out imo.
Cecily
I picked this up at a railway station, shortly after it was published, not quite knowing what to expect. Frankly, I think it was the extraordinary title (and my lack of time) that made me grab it.

All these years later, I remember it well. It was my first introduction to all sorts of bizarre psychological, psychiatric, and neurological conditions that are now more widely known to the general public, and left me amazed at the power and quirks of the human brain. And it was my first int
...more
Bell
Sep 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: health
Very interesting neurological case studies that begged me to reconsider intelligence and "normalcy" particularly in terms of visual perception and its relationship to reality. Also fascinating was the profound structure that the arts (he specifically mentions music, dance, story-telling and drawing) provide for those with the inability to form or develop conceptual frameworks. Indeed, it seems that the fine arts aren't just high-concepts of beauty and art, but healing mechanisms crucial to many ...more
mark monday
Jun 15, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: he-said-she-said
“I think it is effective to constrict your anus 100 times, dent your navel 100 times in succession everyday. You can do so at a boring meeting or in a subway without being noticed for you to do so. I have known 70 year old man who has practiced it for 20 years. As a result, he has good complexion and has grown 20 years younger. His eyes sparkle. He is full of vigor, happiness, and joy. He has neither complained nor born a grudge under any circumstance.”

― Hiroyuki Nishigaki, How to Good-Bye Depression
...more
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6,203 followers
Oliver Wolf Sacks, CBE, was a British neurologist residing in the United States, who has written popular books about his patients, the most famous of which is Awakenings, which was adapted into a film of the same name starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro.

Sacks was the youngest of four children born to a prosperous North London Jewish couple: Sam, a physician, and Elsie, a surgeon
...more
“If a man has lost a leg or an eye, he knows he has lost a leg or an eye; but if he has lost a self—himself—he cannot know it, because he is no longer there to know it.” 308 likes
“If we wish to know about a man, we ask 'what is his story--his real, inmost story?'--for each of us is a biography, a story. Each of us is a singular narrative, which is constructed, continually, unconsciously, by, through, and in us--through our perceptions, our feelings, our thoughts, our actions; and, not least, our discourse, our spoken narrations. Biologically, physiologically, we are not so different from each other; historically, as narratives--we are each of us unique.” 167 likes
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