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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (29 Aug. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1447208269
  • ISBN-13: 978-1447208266
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.1 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Oliver Sacks was born in London and educated in London, Oxford, California and New York. He now lives in America and practices neurology in New York, where he is also a professor of clinical neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He is the author of ten books, including the bestselling The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Awakenings. His most recent book, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain was an international bestseller. He has received numerous awards for his writing, including the Hawthornden Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Product Description


‘Oliver Sacks is a neurologist, a man of humane eloquence, and a genuine communicator’ Observer

‘Sacks writes, basically, adventure stories, accounts of voyages into the unexplained territory of the brain. In doing so, he reveals a landscape far more complex and strange than anything we could infer from our daily interactions’ Sunday Times

‘Sacks is above all a clinician, and writes with compassion and clarity . . . The result is a sort of humane discourse on the fragility of our minds, of the bodies that give rise to them, and of the world they create for us’ Daily Telegraph

‘In measured prose with a blessed lack of jargon, Sacks explores the ingenuity with which individuals cope with bizarre neurological conditions . . . humane, empathic, he is the doctor you would want’ Independent

‘Oliver Sacks has become the world’s best-known neurologist. His case studies of broken minds offer brilliant insight into the mysteries of consciousness’ Guardian

'Sacks is at his most engaging when he brings the ostensibly strange into the realm of normality . . . This is where Sacks triumphs. Not just in the clarity with which he teaches us about the obscure phenomology of the human brain, but in the light his writings casts on even our most ordinary experiences.' Daily Telegraph

‘The king of pop-neurology reveals how almost all of us have hallucinations’ GQ

‘It’s a feat to bring any specialty in medicine vividly to life, and to do so without relinquishing the sensitivity and empathy that characterise the best doctors is something that few achieve. Oliver Sacks has managed it throughout his career . . . Affable, affectionate, respectful and smart, Sacks could be the David Attenborough of the human mind.’ Independent on Sunday

'An enthralling, often guiltily comic insight into the pecularities the brain can conjure.' Irish Examiner

'Oliver Sacks is a graceful, lucid and elegant prose stylist. Though perhaps above all, he is the witty, warm, humble and deeply compassionate explorer of how our brains influence our world . . . fascinating.' Lady

'Hallucinations is an absorbing study of an exotic subject . . . Hallucinatory literature is either transgressive or presented as a search for enlightenment. This new volume sits elegantly between the two extremes and is more rewarding than either - a continuing investigation into what makes us human.' Literary Review

'The greatest living ethnographer of those fascinating tribes qho live on the outer and still largely unchartered shores of the land of Mind-and-Brain.' Observer

'A very human insight into what happens when our brains go awry.' Psychologies

'Sacks writes in the the great tradition of literary doctors. He is humane, relaxed and amused, and loved a good anecdote.' Spectator

'Startling and intriguing' Sunday Times

‘No more enlightening science book has appeared this year . . . Miss this at your peril.’ Sunday Times Science Book of the Year

'A superb synthesis of the literature on these arresting, disturbing and sometimes terrifying phenomena, and a profound work of humanity.' TLS

'Fascinating' (The Times)

‘Wide-ranging, compassionate and ultimately revelatory . . . Hallucinations is the keystone of the amazing edifice that is this remarkable thinker’s oeuvre.’ Will Self, Guardian

Sacks's trip through the world of hallucinations - and his own LSD experiences - explains some of the mesmerising ways our brains can deceive us (Best Books of 2013 Sunday Times)

About the Author

Oliver Sacks is a physician and the author of many books, including The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Awakenings (which inspired the Oscar-nominated film) and Musicophilia. Born in London and educated at Oxford, he now lives in New York City, where he is Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at Columbia University. He is the first, and only, Columbia University Artist, and is also a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. In 2008, he was appointed Commander of the British Empire.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on 1 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you have read anything from Oliver Sacks before you will be familiar with his engaging and informative writing style; he just grabs you and takes you on a journey that seems simple at first but as you look back across the traverse there is a strong sense of how good a teacher he must be. In the current title he performs no less a feat, taking us as he does through an exploration of hallucinations. This is a fascinating subject of which I have something more than a passing acquaintence, mostly from my past career as a psychiatric nurse. Having some knowledge might be detrimental to making an honest evaluation of the book, but I have hopefully managed this and can honestly say that this book will go a long way to informing anyone who has even a passing interest in the subject to gain a fascinating insight to its history and the experiences of those people who have first hand experience of hallucinations.
In my opinion one of the sengths that Oliver Sacks has in abundance is the ability to dispel fear; it is understandable that most people fear the idea of most forms of mental disorder, but through sharing information about the subject under cosideration Sacks helps to cure the most damaging effect of mental disorder, ignorance.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bob Sherunkle VINE VOICE on 18 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Alan Bennett once commented, probably thinking of the sad experiences of his mother and aunt, that common mental problems don't attract much interest, and that you get more attention if you do something bizarre like mistaking your wife for a hat. This might be a fair criticism of some of Sacks' earlier books, but I have to suspend judgment, as it's some time since I read the book in question.

In Hallucinations, Sacks casts his net far and wide. Some of the types of hallucination he describes are rare and exotic , e.g. Charles Bonnet syndrome in which people who were once sighted but are now blind experience vivid visual hallucinatuions. Others, however, are associated with well-known conditions, such as migraine or Parkinson's, and there is even a chapter on hallucinations which any of us could experience ("On the threshold of sleep"). We tend to think of hallucinations as visual, but Sacks covers the other senses too; for example, with hearing he covers tinnitus and then moves on to more obscure conditions.

Sacks is able to draw on his own personal experiences in two of the topics he covers. One is migraine, as he has suffered from this. The other is use of hallucinogenic drugs. He describes, with remarkable candour, how in the mid 1960s, during the postgraduate phase of his career, he would "spend the whole weekend so high that images and thoughts would become rather like controllable hallucinations." His motivation was a mixture of scientific research and opening "the doors of perception". [It must have been a tough job, but someone had to do it ...] An older psychoanalyst friend suggested to him that this behaviour "surely testified to some intense inner needs or conflicts", and this led Sacks to see a therapist.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Damaskcat HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Mar. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The human brain works in ways we are only just beginning to understand. We tend to trust what we see as being what is actually happening but this book shows how the brain can be fooled into thinking something is there when it's actually happening inside itself. Hallucinations can happen when we're tired, half asleep or just waking up. They can happen when our eyesight has gone and when it is in some way defective. If we have a limb amputated we are still convinced the limb is there.

But hallucinations can be auditory as well as visual. People can hear music all the time or hear voices speaking to them or talking in the background. There's a tendency to think it is only schizophrenics who hear voices telling them to do things but the majority of people who hear voices are not schizophrenic. The author quotes many examples from his own patients and the case histories make fascinating reading. He also tells of his own experiences with licit and illicit drugs.

I enjoyed reading this well written and interesting book and would recommend it to anyone who wants to better understand themselves and the way their brain works. There are notes on each chapter, a bibliography which gives the reader an opportunity to read more on the subject and an index.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jayne VINE VOICE on 4 Dec. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm in two minds about this book. On the one hand, Sacks writes in his signature engaging, accessible manner to demystify more than a dozen types of auditory, olfactory and visual hallucinations. He presents us with interesting snippets of numerous people's lives together with recent and not-so-recent historical context and shows, once again, that the mind is endlessly fascinating.

On the other hand, the book's premise that nice, normal people can have hallucinations for all sorts of rational, medically-explained reasons quite separate to mental illness perpetuates the sense of otherness surrounding diagnoses like schizophrenia. Rather than portraying mental illness as a part of the human continuum, just like any other illness, schizophrenia is banished from the book as if to a modern day leper colony.

If you've read Oliver Sacks' work before, you'll be familiar with his style and thorough treatment of his subject matter. If you haven't, then take a look in the nifty "Look inside" feature, where you'll also find all the chapter headings.

As a popular science book, it does a does a good job of demonstrating that all kinds of people experience hallucinations. These range from people with migraine, epilepsy and alcoholism to those taking (or suddenly stopping) street and prescription drugs. There are the hallucinations that can accompany loss of eyesight, hearing and limbs. Examples are taken from Sacks' own patients as well as history. As a neuroscientist, Sacks looks at the brain mapping technologies that can help us peer inside to gain a partial insight into what's happening when the brain hallucinates.
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