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The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat [Hardcover]

Oliver Sacks
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)

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Book Description

9 Oct 1986

A classic work of psychology, this international bestseller provides a groundbreaking insight into the human mind

If a man has lost a leg or an eye, he knows he has lost a leg or an eye; but if he has lost a self - himself - he cannot know it, because he is no longer there to know it.

In this extraordinary book, Dr. Oliver Sacks recounts the stories of patients struggling to adapt to often bizarre worlds of neurological disorder. Here are people who can no longer recognize everyday objects or those they love; who are stricken with violent tics or shout involuntary obscenities; who have been dismissed as autistic or retarded, yet are gifted with uncanny artistic or mathematical talents. If inconceivably strange, these brilliant tales illuminate what it means to be human.

A provocative exploration of the mysteries of the human mind, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat is a million-copy bestseller by the twentieth century's greatest neurologist.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 234 pages
  • Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd; Third edition (9 Oct 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0715620673
  • ISBN-13: 978-0715620670
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,366,394 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


A gripping journey into the recesses of the human mind (Daily Mail)

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)

Populated by a cast as strange as that of the most fantastic fiction . . . Dr Sacks shows the awesome powers of our mind and just how delicately balanced they have to be (Sunday Times)

This book is for everybody who has felt from time to time that certain twinge of self-identity and sensed how easily, at any moment, one might lose it (The Times) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

NOTE: CD contains MP3 files so therefore needs a computer or a player capable of playing MP3 audio files. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
99 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written, accessible and thought-provoking 1 Aug 2003
This book is written in a beautifully accessible and entertaining style; it is also moving, funny and tragic in equal measures.
Consisting mainly of short stories relating patient 'oddities' that the author has treated in his long career as a neurologist it manages to come across as anything but a list of dry case histories. The inclusion of the emotions of the patient as they deal with their difficulties and the reactions of the author keep this book human rather than academic.
Although this is a recommended book for undergraduate students of various disciplines, it should not be discounted as a mere informative reader because of that. Anyone interested in stories of the human condition or those with a fascination/awe of the human brain will find this intriguing, engaging and interesting.
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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely book 3 Feb 2008
I first came across Oliver Sacks in a doctor's waiting room. There, lying on the table, was a copy of his first book, "Migraine". Since I suffer from bad headaches, I picked it up and started reading. Thoroughly intrigued by the elegantly written case studies it contained, I asked the doctor if I could borrow it, took it home, and finished it that evening. I then began to notice that Mr. Sacks periodically wrote articles for the New Yorker on strange neurological cases, and every time one came out I read it with delectation. So when I saw Mr. Sack's book "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" at my local bookstore I bought it immediately.

I was not let down. The book is a fascinating compendium of neurological case studies, classified into four parts: Losses, Excesses, Transports, The World of the Simple. Mr. Sacks takes us on a journey through a series of neurological disturbances with extreme effects. Initially, one reads them with appalled fascination, with a feeling of being at the Circus staring at the Bearded Lady or the Elephant Man; I was forcefully reminded of Sylvia Plath's lines in "Lady Lazarus":
The Peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand in foot --
The big strip tease.

But Oliver Sacks writes soberly and with great compassion about his cases, and drags us away from mere peanut-crunching voyeurism to finally contemplate what the cases tell us about what it means to be us.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wondrous look at some broken people 24 Mar 2009
A fascinating review of a few extreme cases of neurological dysfunction. These are people whose brains are dysfunctioning in a way that has profound effects on their conscious (and subconscious), making them see things (and do things) very differently to other people. The cases are described well and in an easy to read manner, and are explained equally well, introducing a gentle minimum of technical terms.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars short stories on mental anomalies 17 April 2001
the man who mistook his wife for a hat is a collection of short stories, of patients of the physician Oliver Sachs. he tells many stories and the title is one. there are others such as the woman who kept falling asleep, the woman who had a coma and came out speaking perfect french. all very odd yet believable stories. and all true very good for the reader who needs to be able to put the book down occasionally. but likes to be challenged intellectually. there is enough medical detail there to keep the knowledgable interested, but not enough to make you fall asleep. and it won't give you nightmares....
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant introduction to the brain 15 Sep 2005
By A Customer
I am an A level student who wants to study neuroscience at university. I read this book last year and found it to be an excellent introduction to the brain and what happens when it 'goes wrong'. Oliver Sacks has a way of making each case study a human story rather than an analysis of his patients. His science is accessible and I would recommend anyone to read this book whether studying the brain or not.
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46 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A classic with some reservations... 11 April 2006
By John B
I can understand some of the critical reviews about this book but there is no doubt that it justifiably remains a classic and well worth reading - it was the first book of its kind and is for anyone interested in strange neurological case histories. Maybe the language is a bit dated but it was written a good few years ago. A more recent book that I've just read in a similar genre is 'Classic case studies in psychology' by Dr. Geoff Rolls - it contains different chapters on some of the best known cases in psychology (Genie, Phineas Gage, HM, David Reimer, and so on). It's a very easy and enjoyable read and most of the cases are perhaps better known than the ones in 'The Man who mistook his wife...' I notice that Amazon have paired it with Sach's book as a perfect partner so they must agree that the two are complementary. Both are well worth a read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars shocking, surprising and mind-blowing 2 Dec 2009
It is guaranteed that the reader will be utterly blown away with this extraordinary collection of medical insights into the symptoms that can occur when there are brain malfunctions with their consequenct bizarre changes in mental perceptions.This essentially is a collection of case histories that are quite out of the scope of the average persons understanding. Oliver Sacks' accessible style of writing gives us glimpses into the 'unreal' lives of patients who have to negotiate their everyday lives lacking some essential and basic abilities to relate to the world in a 'normal' way either in the business of memory, sensory perception or mobility.Each case reads like a whacky novel and leaves the reader with a feeling of walking on thin ice because the very foundations upon which we as 'normal'human beings base our lives come into question too.Not to be missed!
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