The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

Author: Oliver Sacks

Over the course of many years of clinical practice in neuropsychology, Dr. Sacks has seen the inexplicable, the baffling, and the unusual many, many times. In this book, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Dr. Sacks provides a varied collection of cases of interest that he has seen–everything from a woman who lost her sense of proprioception to a man who temporarily gained the ability to perceive the world as a dog would! And of course, “the man who mistook his wife for a hat”–incredible story that.

I don’t usually read much nonfiction, but this book (recommended by my brother who loves Dr. Sacks’ writing) is a definite exception. The case studies are stories. True stories, yes, and more incredible for that. Dr. Sacks’ writing is clear and lucid and simple enough to be easy to read–not “doctor-ese” at all. More impressive to me though is the humanity, respect, dignity, and compassion that permeates his tales; it’s clear that he sees the individuals he’s writing about as people not just as cases or medical charts. Indeed, the insight he draws from his interactions with these people, not only about themselves but about humanity in general, is truly illuminating. I would give The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat my high recommendations, and not only for those who like medical books, but for anyone with an interest in Story and in what makes people tick. Truly fascinating.

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