Mental Health Bookclub discussion

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales
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2017 Group Reads - Mental Health > February - The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat

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message 1: by Martha (last edited Feb 23, 2017 08:47AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Martha (marthais) Our February MH read will be The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat. While maybe not mental health in the strictest sense, it is broadly about neurology/psychology/the brain, and I remember being fascinated the first time I read it and the things that our brain does that we don't realise until it stops functioning properly.

This book is available on Amazon UK and US in Paperback, Kindle and Audio Download. It's also been out for several years so you would hopefully be able to get it at your local library.

Some discussion points:
- Overall what did you like/dislike about this book?

- Did you have a favourite case or one you found particularly fascinating?

- One of the things I really enjoyed was Sacks' thoughts about identity and the soul - for example in the two amnesiacs, one who seemed 'held' in church despite his usual inability to make new memories vs. the second who was constantly trying to create an identity and so Sacks deemed him to have been de-souled. What do you think?

- In the chapters about the Tourette's cases, there was a thought around how some Touretter's saw enhanced benefits from their disorder that they didn't want to lose - e.g. Ray with his drumming. Without wishing to be insensitive, are there any positives you see coming from your mental health experiences?

- As Carol mentioned above, there's a lot of outdated language because this book was written in the 80s. Fortunately, a lot of Sacks' observations suggest he does not use these terms to be deliberately derogatory and instead focuses on the many ways in which the "mentally defective" are actually mentally "complete" or "enhanced". I thought The Twins was hugely interesting where they had this incredibly power with numbers, but they were separated in the name of "independence" and what was "socially acceptable", and consequently lost their power. What are your thoughts around the pressure to 'fit in'/be 'normal' and how have you experienced that?

As always, any discussion/observations are always welcome, so don't feel like you have to answer any or all of the above points.


message 2: by Jamie (new) - added it

Jamie | 4 comments Yay! I'm so excited!!! I'll buy the book as soon as I can! Let's do this thing!!!


Martha (marthais) Yay!


Martha (marthais) Yes all in this thread! I'll edit the top post with some discussion prompts but feel free to start talking about it as soon as you like!


Martha (marthais) I know what you mean Saide, it was definitely denser than I remember! Perhaps because when I first read it I had just finished a psychology degree so didn't notice it so much, whereas several years later it's harder to read.
Sorry I haven't got round to the prompts, I'm still reading it, but tell me a bit more about what you liked - where there any particular cases you found interesting?


Martha (marthais) That's exciting! Psychology's a great subject and broad enough that there's a lot of variety in what you study. I tend to be more interested in the social psychology side of things, but it's all pretty interesting. I think my favourite of the cases so far is the Disembodied Lady - I was fascinated by the idea of the "hidden sense" like proprioception that you don't realise you have until you've lost them


message 7: by Carol (last edited Feb 18, 2017 11:06PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Carol (bookbakery) I was without Internet for an entire week! But, I finished the book today. I read/listened to the audible version because it was available with Kindle Unlimited with Narration. Lucky me!

For audible narration, one must have Internet.

I enjoyed the book very much. Some of the terminology and general
conversation was dated (not politically correct) in how the patients were referred, but that did not bother me because I realize that it was written before we had politically correct.


message 8: by Jamie (new) - added it

Jamie | 4 comments Finally got the book! Gunna start reading in the next day or 2!!!


message 9: by Martha (last edited Feb 23, 2017 08:46AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Martha (marthais) Hey team! Ok so I FINALLY finished this book.

First thing's first - I apologise! As I said to Saide above, I first read this fresh from a psychology degree, however having read it again, I now see it is incredibly jargon-heavy, and so not the easiest of reads. Luckily Marina's got a great looking book for next month, so stick with us :)

BUT, I hope you still got/will get something out of it - there are a lot of things I really enjoyed about it even though I struggled towards the end.

Some discussion points:
- Overall what did you like/dislike about this book?

- Did you have a favourite case or one you found particularly fascinating?

- One of the things I really enjoyed was Sacks' thoughts about identity and the soul - for example in the two amnesiacs, one who seemed 'held' in church despite his usual inability to make new memories vs. the second who was constantly trying to create an identity and so Sacks deemed him to have been de-souled. What do you think?

- In the chapters about the Tourette's cases, there was a thought around how some Touretter's saw enhanced benefits from their disorder that they didn't want to lose - e.g. Ray with his drumming. Without wishing to be insensitive, are there any positives you see coming from your mental health experiences?

- As Carol mentioned above, there's a lot of outdated language because this book was written in the 80s. Fortunately, a lot of Sacks' observations suggest he does not use these terms to be deliberately derogatory and instead focuses on the many ways in which the "mentally defective" are actually mentally "complete" or "enhanced". I thought The Twins was hugely interesting where they had this incredibly power with numbers, but they were separated in the name of "independence" and what was "socially acceptable", and consequently lost their power. What are your thoughts around the pressure to 'fit in'/be 'normal' and how have you experienced that?

As always, any discussion/observations are always welcome, so don't feel like you have to answer any or all of the above points.


Martha (marthais) Hi all,

As we move into March, we have a new MH book to read (Furiously Happy) but this thread will stay open so please do continue to discuss the book if you're reading it, there's no deadline! Also if anyone would like to submit a review for the review database, let me know or put it in the Submissions thread.

Thanks!


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