Synopses & Reviews
In The Mind's Eye,
Oliver Sacks tells the stories of people who are able to navigate the world and communicate with others despite losing what many of us consider indispensable senses and abilities: the power of speech, the capacity to recognize faces, the sense of three-dimensional space, the ability to read, the sense of sight. For all of these people, the challenge is to adapt to a radically new way of being in the world.
There is Lilian, a concert pianist who becomes unable to read music and is eventually unable even to recognize everyday objects, and Sue, a neurobiologist who has never seen in three dimensions, until she suddenly acquires stereoscopic vision in her fifties.
There is Pat, who reinvents herself as a loving grandmother and active member of her community, despite the fact that she has aphasia and cannot utter a sentence, and Howard, a prolific novelist who must find a way to continue his life as a writer even after a stroke destroys his ability to read.
And there is Dr. Sacks himself, who tells the story of his own eye cancer and the bizarre and disconcerting effects of losing vision to one side.
Sacks explores some very strange paradoxes — people who can see perfectly well but cannot recognize their own children, and blind people who become hyper-visual or who navigate by "tongue vision." He also considers more fundamental questions: How do we see? How do we think? How important is internal imagery — or vision, for that matter? Why is it that, although writing is only five thousand years old, humans have a universal, seemingly innate, potential for reading?
The Mind's Eye is a testament to the complexity of vision and the brain and to the power of creativity and adaptation. And it provides a whole new perspective on the power of language and communication, as we try to imagine what it is to see with another person's eyes, or another person's mind.
"An absorbing attempt to unravel the complexities of the human mind." Kirkus
"Sacks has a seemingly inexhaustible talent for eloquently and humanely explaining our brains' most arcane and bizarre neurological dysfunctions." Time Magazine
"Sacks has taken the patient history — the most basic tool of medicine
"Richly detailed... creatively balances complex medical discussion with solid, down-to-earth prose, which will attract his legion of fans interested in the human condition." Library Journal
"Inquisitive and horrified at once, Sacks shows us knowledge, discipline, and imagination confronting the terrors of illness and loss... Readers may never take the view of a sunrise or of their child's smile the same way again." Boston Globe
"Implicit in Sacks's panorama of clinical problems is a deep and surprising view of reading, perceiving, and understanding... extraordinarily poignant." Harpers Magazine
As he has done in classics like The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat and Awakenings, Dr. Sacks shows us that medicine is both an art and a science, and that our ability to imagine what it is to see with another person's mind is what makes us truly human.
About the Author
Oliver Sacks is a practicing physician and the author of ten books, including Musicophilia, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and Awakenings (which inspired the Oscar-nominated film). He lives in New York City, where he is a professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and the first Columbia University Artist.