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3.79  ·  Rating details ·  1,880 ratings  ·  169 reviews
The many manifestations of migraine can vary dramatically from one patient to another, even within the same patient at different times. Among the most compelling and perplexing of these symptoms are the strange visual hallucinations and distortions of space, time, and body image which migraineurs sometimes experience. Portrayals of these uncanny states have found their way ...more
Paperback, 338 pages
Published September 1992 by Vintage (first published 1970)
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Stiff by Mary RoachThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootThe Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver SacksOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken KeseyCutting for Stone by Abraham   Verghese
Medicine and Literature
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 ·  1,880 ratings  ·  169 reviews

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Collin Shea
Nov 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
This book was originally written in 1970 with subsequent revisions in '85 and '92. Given that it's slightly outdated I wasn't sure how relevant it would be, especially considering all the different migraine medications they have now. I couldn't have been more wrong!
The wonderful thing about Dr. Sacks is that he's not all about standardized, generalized drug-treatment and he has a full respect for nature. He considers each case and patient as an individual human being with all the uniqueness that
Dec 31, 2010 rated it did not like it
As a chronic migraine sufferer, I found Sack's work to be a huge disappointment. His information was outdated and biased towards the traditional attitude that migraines are stress induced. Migraines are so much more complicated than originally thought, a complex chemical and electrical reaction that can be set in motion by extremely diverse causes from brain tumors to multiple sclerosis to spinal injury, not to mention hormonal changes, trigger exposure, and altitude sickness, just to name a ...more
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
The book synopsis pretty much says it all.
I read this years ago. I remember it well because I could relate to a lot of what Sacks was saying. Still, it was somewhat frustrating and disappointing not getting a definite medical description or definition for migraine, and realising that there is no cure. And all migraineurs have different triggers and different physical symptoms.

I have since found a real gem a book on the subject, The Keeler Migraine Method: A Groundbreaking, Individualized
May 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Visual migraines are terrifying experiences that physicians (and eye doctors) do not typically treat. This book was recommended by bloggers reporting on their own experiences, so I bought the book. The author gives an in-depth scientific treatment of migraines in general and visual migraines (auras) in particular. The book is written on a college science level.

Some famous people with auras are mentioned and numerous artistic representations of auras are shown. Biological explanations are given
James Klagge
Recently I had what was diagnosed as an ophthalmic migraine, or a scintillating scotoma. This was the second event in about 2 months. There was no pain associated with it, and apparently it is not a dangerous condition, but it was certainly attention-getting. I had been interested in this book for several years, so I took the occasion to read it. While I am an Oliver Sacks fan, this is my least favorite of his books so far (I've read almost all of them). His strength is when he looks at some ...more
Apr 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read this book when I was in college, suffering from multiple classical migraines every week. It taught me to treat my migraines by hitting them hard with aspirin and coffee, just as I started to see the visual disturbance. I still get migraines from time to time, but never get a headache.

Interestingly, Excedrin is an implementation of the Sacks treatment, because it contains aspirin, caffeine, and acetaminophen.
Helen (Helena/Nell)
Jul 20, 2011 rated it liked it
I've been reading quite a bit of Oliver Sacks lately and now I realise I've been reading the populist works. He can do easy read and he can do medical. This one is medical.

However, I read it all the way through and I found it very interesting, even though there were quite a few medical terms that went right over my head. I think I was able to read the whole book simply because I do have migraines, so it all seemed personal, even the bits I didn't find entertaining and didn't really understand.

Judy Vasseur
Jun 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
I just briefly started reading this book on the subway, until I feared the swaying motion, screeching, piercing lights, incessant babble, and ear-splitting singing of the blind beggar might bring on a migraine.

We can't blame it on florescent lighting, traffic jams, or the office because it’s been around at least since Hippocrates.

If you experience migraines, either occasionally or constantly, this book can be an eye-opener to better understanding and coping with this mysterious complex event.

Jul 31, 2013 rated it did not like it
At one time may have been cutting edge. I did enjoy the historical aspects of it, although Mr. Sacks is not a gifted writer so you slog and swamp through his writing. The information is outdated and you will not find a cure or a treatment plan. Anyone who says Mr. Sacks is empathic to the migraine sufferer, has never truly had a migraine. He does what doctors have done for centuries and subtly blames the patient, or implies they are a little crazy or off in "the head". Read it by all means, but ...more
Fiona Robson
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who has the misfortune to suffer from migraines NEEDS to read this book! It explains so much. Sadly ... not really how to actually be CURED of them, but a fascinating read anyway, and it's always good to know you're not alone. Especially if you suffer from Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome, like I do, and it explains the links with sickness extremely well. Oliver Sacks is always a pleasure to read anyway, and has a lovely, readable style, despite dealing with complicated chemical explanations ...more
Rebecca Rebecca
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Every migraineur should read this book. Sacks discusses migraine in terms of case histories, neurology, psychology, and the history of medicine. His account of migraine auras engage with religious figures and research on hallucinogens. The case histories are numerous and rich, and his digests of clinical experience are detailed, organized, and humane. You won't find some magic treatment for migraine in here -- there is none -- but you'll get a rich, historically informed, and sympathetic account ...more
Sep 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
I have to admit I started out strong with this book and then took the longest break ever. Then, I finally went back to it. The information in it is truly fascinating but it isn't the most fun read of all time. Musicophilia was interesting but had some fun.

Oliver Sacks covers a lot of material. He goes over more case histories than I can count and discusses migraines as history essentially. He discusses the neurological makeup of a migraine and an aura in as much information as he knew at the
Linda  Branham Greenwell
Jun 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, psychology, 2013
Migraine is a helpful book for people who suffer from migraines. It has full of rich detailed explanations and case studies. Dr. Sacks is wonderful neurologist who is a migraine sufferer himself. I was amazed at how many symptoms a migraine sufferer can have besides the actual headache
I also suffer from migraines and have found that many of the weird experiences I have had are part of the migraine syndrome.
In another of his books, Hallucinations, Dr. Sacks details Alice in Wonderland syndrome
Feb 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mind-body
I wish that I had read this book 7-8 years ago when I first started experiencing migraines. I wish that the numerous doctors and specialists I had seen had also read this book. Oliver Sacks doesn't provide a magic answer for the cause or cure of migraines, but his discussion of the different types of migraine, as well as contributing factors to migraine attacks, brought up some good points which cleared up some questions my doctors were never able to answer satisfactorily. Most interesting, of ...more
Jan 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: donated
I'm probably not qualified to judge this book. I bought it, hoping that it would help me to understand my migraines. And it did help me out a lot. But it is, at times, fairly technical and maybe directed more at medical professionals rather than general readers.

It's also probably out of date, having been last updated in the 90s, I think. A lot of the material holds up well, but I wonder how much has changed since then.

Still a good read though. Well-written, as one would expect from Sacks. And
May 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I love all of Oliver Sacks books, but for this one, I'd say you would have to be a migraine sufferer to enjoy it. After reading this book, I really felt special and that I had a fascinating disease. Only Oliver Sacks can make you feel this way.
Sep 26, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have these. They suck but knowing is half the battle right?
Dec 26, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
I didn't finish this before it had to go back because I just couldn't get into it.
I get the feeling that maybe I've read it before?
Just did not enjoy this as much as the other Oliver Sacks books.
Aug 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
I don't suffer from migraines, so reading a book about them should have held no interest for me. And yet...the late great Dr. Sacks has managed to enlightening, inform, and entertain me again!
Billie Hinton
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love Oliver Sacks’ work in general, but picked this up after I experienced “forced reminiscence” as is described in his book about migraines. I have had migraines for many years, though mostly I have the pre-migraine aura symptoms, which are generally triggered by an intense beam of light or light through mini blinds in certain situations.

Several years ago I had an experience I did not know how to describe. As it happened I wondered if I were going insane, and I called my husband and had him
Nea 📓
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I‘m biased.
Steve Voiles
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
It is always a bit of a slog reading Sacks, because he does not dumb down the complexities of his own hard won understanding. Migraine is a prime example of that: his range of thought, his elaboration of detail and historical reference is immense, and often confusing to those of us who are less acquainted with all the disciplines he employs. This is not a page-turner but a labor of thinking.

At times I was tempted to give it up, seeing it as too indulgent, to specific an area of study for a
Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel
Of course much of the book is outdated, but it is a must read for anyone with migraine disease. Love Sacks’ writing.
Dec 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: clinicians and general physicians
I suffer from chronic migraines and I just wanted to know more. I have never seen a migraine specialist or a neurologist, although I know my mother sees a neurologist regularly for her migraines. The only people I have ever spoken to about my migraines are general practitioners, and the only treatment ever prescribed has been medication-only -- medication which, after about three months becomes useless as I have built up a tolerance. So I wanted to know what an award-winning neurologist had to ...more
Mayank Gupta
Jan 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting read, though very academic. Unlike more recent books by Sacks that are easier to read
Özgür Takmaz
Jan 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Ergotropism vs. Trophotropism. Evolutionary advantage as a group.
Douglass Gaking
This is not Oliver Sacks' best work. I read this to get some medical insight on my migraine condition. Sacks puts the primary blame for migraines on psychological, rather than physiological factors, despite the fact that migraines are primarily a genetic disorder. He considers most cases of chronic migraines to be psychosomatic, which I have a hard time buying. The book can get very dry, and I found myself starting to skim, which I rarely do when I read. It does not help that the topic of ...more
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Okay: you would not have picked up this book unless you were

a. Studying neurology, psychiatry, psychology, medical history
b. Practicing one of the above
c. A migraineur
d. A friend or family of someone who suffers from migraines

With that said, the book is dense and can be slow going for those of us not verse in medical literature and terminology. However, the (now well thumbed) glossary at the end of the book was of invaluable help. The terms not in there, I just guessed as you can figure out
Mar 22, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, medical
I have only read two of Sack's books but I love his style of writing and the personality he puts into medical books. The only reason I am not giving this book more stars was that I found some of the chapters repetitive and difficult to read or stay focused on. There were too many jargon words that he didn't clarify in the text. There was a glossary in the back but frustratingly I only found it at the end of reading, due to reading an ebook. The advantage of this was the in built dictionary on my ...more
I bought this book on a whim a couple of Fridays ago because I was in a bookstore and it had been on my list of things to read for a long time. I brought it home and immediately started reading it. And then, when I went out with some friends, I got a migraine that lasted through Sunday. Argh.

I'm not sure I'll finish the book -- evidently the power of suggestion is strong for me. But the illustrations are really great -- I've always wanted to be able to show people what my vision looks like when
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Goodreads Librari...: Book Covers 5 19 Jan 12, 2015 01:30PM  

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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. When he
“You keep pressing me,” he said, “to say that the attacks start with this symptom or that symptom, this phenomenon or that phenomenon, but this is not the way I experience them. It doesn’t start with one symptom, it starts as a whole. You feel the whole thing, quite tiny at first, right from the start.… It’s like glimpsing a point, a familiar point, on the horizon, and gradually getting nearer, seeing it get larger and larger; or glimpsing your destination from far off, in a plane, having it get clearer and clearer as you descend through the clouds.” “The migraine looms,” he added, “but it’s just a change of scale—everything is already there from the start.” This business of “looming,” of huge changes of” 5 likes
“Many patients may confess that they feel “strange” or “confused” during a migraine aura, that they are clumsy in their movements, or that they would not drive at such a time. In short, they may be aware of something the matter in addition to the scintillating scotoma, paraesthesiae, etc., something so unprecedented in their experience, so difficult to describe, that it is often avoided or omitted when speaking of their complaints. Great” 4 likes
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