Synopses & Reviews
In the tradition of Oliver Sacks, a tour of the latest neuroscience of schizophrenia, autism, Alzheimers disease, ecstatic epilepsy, Cotards syndrome, out-of-body experiences, and other disordersrevealing the awesome power of the human sense of self from a master of science journalism
Anil Ananthaswamys extensive in-depth interviews venture into the lives of individuals who offer perspectives that will change how you think about who you are. These individuals all lost some part of what we think of as our self, but they then offer remarkable, sometimes heart-wrenching insights into what remains. One man cut off his own leg. Another became one with the universe.
We are learning about the self at a level of detail that Descartes (I think therefore I am”) could never have imagined. Recent research into Alzheimers illuminates how memory creates your narrative self by using the same part of your brain for your past as for your future. But wait, those afflicted with Cotards syndrome think they are already dead; in a way, they believe that I think therefore I am not.” Whoor whatcan say that? Neuroscience has identified specific regions of the brain that, when they misfire, can cause the self to move back and forth between the body and a doppelgänger, or to leave the body entirely. So where in the brain, or mind, or body, is the self actually located? As Ananthaswamy elegantly reports, neuroscientists themselves now see that the elusive sense of self is both everywhere and nowhere in the human brain.
"Dr. Sacks's most absorbing book....His tales are so compelling that many of them serve as eerie metaphors not only for the condition of modern medicine but of modern man." New York Magazine
"Insightful, compassionate, moving...the lucidity and power of a gifted writer." John C. Marshall, The New York Times Book Review
"A provocative introduction to the marvels of the human mind." Clarence E. Olsen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Dr. Sacks's best book....One sees a wise, compassionate and very literate mind at work in these 20 stories, nearly all remarkable, and many the kind that restore one's faith in humanity." Noel Perrin, Chicago Sun-Times
In his most extraordinary book, "one of the great clinical writers of the 20th century" (The New York Times
) recounts the case histories of patients lost in the bizarre, apparently inescapable world of neurological disorders. Oliver Sacks's The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
tells the stories of individuals afflicted with fantastic perceptual and intellectual aberrations: patients who have lost their memories and with them the greater part of their pasts; who are no longer able to recognize people and common objects; who are stricken with violent tics and grimaces or who shout involuntary obscenities; whose limbs have become alien; who have been dismissed as retarded yet are gifted with uncanny artistic or mathematical talents.
If inconceivably strange, these brilliant tales remain, in Dr. Sacks's splendid and sympathetic telling, deeply human. They are studies of life struggling against incredible adversity, and they enable us to enter the world of the neurologically impaired, to imagine with our hearts what it must be to live and feel as they do. A great healer, Sacks never loses sight of medicine's ultimate responsibility: "the suffering, afflicted, fighting human subject."
About the Author
ANIL ANANTHASWAMY is an award-winning science journalist and former deputy news editor and current consultant for New Scientist. He is a guest lecturer at UC Santa Cruz's renowned science writing program and teached an annual science journalism workshop at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India. He is a feature editor for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science's Front Matter and has written for National Geographic News, Discover, Matter, The Times (UK), and The Independent (UK). He has been a columnist for PBS NOVAs The Nature of Reality blog. His first book, The Edge of Physics, was voted book of the year in 2010 by Physics World. He lives in Bangalore, India, and Santa Cruz, California.
Table of Contents
PART ONE: LOSSES
1 The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
2 The Lost Mariner
3 The Disembodied Lady
4 The Man Who Fell out of Bed
7 On the Level
8 Eyes Right!
9 The President's Speech
PART TWO: EXCESSES
10 Witty Ticcy Ray
11 Cupid's Disease
12 A Matter of Identity
13 Yes, Father-Sister
14 The Possessed page
PART THREE: TRANSPORTS
16 Incontinent Nostalgia
17 A Passage to India
18 The Dog Beneath the Skin
20 The Visions of Hildegard
PART FOUR: THE WORLD OF THE SIMPLE
22 A Walking Grove
23 The Twins
24 The Autist Artist