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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Case studies of the human mind: occasionally technical, frequently poignant
This book is a collection of essays which illustrate how the human mind perceives and interprets information from the visual world. Like most of Oliver Sacks' other publications it is aimed at an audience who are familiar with (or can tolerate) a reasonable amount of medical and scientific data which is interwoven in a skillful fashion alongside the individual case...
Published on 3 Oct 2010 by Rowena Hoseason

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Who sees with equal eye...?
In this volume Sacks use studies from his own case file, including his own experiences with prosopagnosia (face-blindness) and his treatment for retinal melanoma, to show how we experience and interpret the visual world.

The case histories include a concert pianist who found that she could no longer music, a novelist who lost the ability to read, a woman who...
Published on 2 Nov 2010 by Sir Barnabas


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and engaging, 16 Sep 2011
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This review is from: The Mind's Eye (Hardcover)
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This is definitely a book worth reading: Oliver Sacks has a genuine concern for his patients and the odd worlds their conditions force them to live in. As with Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat the book goes from case study to case study, although arguably this time there is a little more personal engagement from Sacks - I don't mean that he didn't care previously, it is more that his genuine concern for these people is more evident in this book than perhaps we have felt earlier. This may well be to do with his own experiences with the loss of depth perception and so on induced by his own condition. It is a compelling read, a fascinating way in for the layman to try to comprehend the strange realities that people with various brain disfunctions or damage are forced to come to terms with and live in.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mind's Eye, 5 Mar 2011
This review is from: The Mind's Eye (Hardcover)
This book delights, inspires and informs.The author shares his great knowledge and intellect through stories of his patients and himself. As sometimes with clever people they can make complex subjects understandable for laymen. The most inspiring characteristic in these stories is the triumph of the human spirit over real adversity. He writes as doctor , patient and storyteller.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book about seeing, 20 Dec 2010
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Tealady2000 (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mind's Eye (Hardcover)
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If you have read any other books by Oliver Sacks you will know that they are collections of fascinating and obscure medical case histories, usually linked together by a theme. In this case the theme is sight and particularly the role of the brain in vision. We meet people who have lost the ability to read words but can still write, people who have no depth of vision, people whose ability to read music comes and goes, people who cannot recognise faces and people who cannot forget them. But what sets this book apart from Sacks' other case reports (which can be a little detached and clinical) is the moving account of his own experience of ocular melanoma, a cancer of the eye. In a diary-style chapter we see how the melanoma impacts on Sacks' sensory world and how the treatment ultimately affects his vision. A compelling read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the usual Sachs musings and more personal, 16 Dec 2010
This review is from: The Mind's Eye (Hardcover)
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I have read and enjoyed several of Sachs previous books. I had failed to notice beofre that he is a bit of a name dropper. (He is related to our own Chief Rabbi and went to Cambridge with Jonathon Miller etc)The first few stories are very much his usual throught-provoking fare reflecting on what neurological damage tells us about the nature of normal neurology and with a human face and humour.Then he goes off on a bit tangent about his own eye tumour. The very detail of this part sets it apart from his other stories.He is a somewhat neurotic patient at times! Not so bad a read but not as enthralling as previous books and lacking the overall unifying themes in favour of memoir.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Easy to Understand, 16 Nov 2010
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Mrs. K. A. Wheatley "katywheatley" (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mind's Eye (Hardcover)
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I first came across Oliver Sacks through the film Awakenings, which is based on his work in a New York hospital with a group of patients who had been left in a kind of catatonic state thanks to the great influenza epidemic after the first world war. It charted his work with them and his break through using the drug L-Dopa to wake them up.

After the film had finished I immediately read the book, written by Sacks as a serious academic study. It was quite hard work, as you might expect. There were lots of complex medical terms and footnotes that would sometimes go on for pages. Despite that, Sacks was an engaging writer who, when he wasn't writing about things out of my grasp, made a compelling narrator. The main thing that shone through in his work was his sympathy for his patients and his insistence on believing in a deep mind/body connection that most medics seem to ignore. He was convinced that the human body and mind are miraculous things and that much could be done for people with seemingly baffling or chronic conditions if the people who treated them were more open minded.

I sought out more of his work and read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat; An Anthropologist on Mars; Seeing Voices and A Leg to Stand On with increasing pleasure. His work, over the years has become more accessible to the lay reader, the footnotes are shorter, the explanations for medical terminology are more simple, and yet Sacks does not patronise or talk down to the reader.

In this book Sacks looks at how much of what we see is physical and how much mental construct. He explores the connection between the brain and the eye, and how other senses and neurological pathways can compensate or adjust when damage occurs either to the optic nerve or the brain.

The book is broken up into chapters which roughly conform to case studies dealing with different patients, a brilliant musician who only realises something is wrong when one day she gets up to perform and cannot read the music at her piano, a novelist who has a stroke and can no longer read and write. The main chapters of the book however, deal with Sacks' own case, as he woke up one morning with a large blind spot in one eye, and found that it was caused by a tumour. He shares his experiences as a medic and as a human being in such touching detail it is a real pleasure to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Paging Dr Sacks, 15 Nov 2010
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emma who reads a lot (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mind's Eye (Hardcover)
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i really enjoyed reading this book, which feels most of all like a collection of disparate essays, case studies and diaries, rather than a single text conceived from beginning to end. It's hardly surprising that it has this bittiness, when you learn about halfway through the book that Sacks was diagnosed in 2005 as having cancer in his eye, which led him to take a rather personal view of vision loss and distortion.

The book's strengths lie in his personality: like Sherlock Holmes, he answers particularly choice letters from fans, his readers asking about their own medical questions, arriving at their homes with a team of doctors to investigate a particularly intriguing loss of vision. He is utterly knowledgable, and yet at the same time lets down his guard, letting you see him as the geek he really is, when he refers to his enthusiasm for three-d images, Klingon battle cruisers, or the number of times he got stoned since having his cancer diagnosis.

However I really got the sense that he has not yet fully processed what he has learned from the whole experience, and that he is still mulling the whole thing over: resulting in a book which itself perhaps has a blind spot: he never answers the question of how he himself feels about his illness. I'm not saying that anyone should 'have' to write about their own illness or frailties: just that I was left wondering how this had illuminated his own work as a doctor.

Nonetheless a wonderful book and it has really stayed with me; if i were ever to get weird neurological symptoms I would desperately want him turning up on my doorstep.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seeing things differently..., 7 Oct 2010
This review is from: The Mind's Eye (Hardcover)
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One of the most impressive things about Oliver Sacks' book is that he isn't trying to impress you with his knowledge and experience, he's trying to share it. The first half of the book is mostly based around case-studies of patients Sacks has worked with, each suffering some breakdown in their visual perception causing them to lose facilities they'd previously, like us all, taken for-granted. Although Sacks might offer some insight into the underlying neurological problems of each he never forgets he's writing about people. Each person is presented with humour and humanity as they discover workarounds and sometimes surprising compensations in their various problems.

When the book shifts to Sacks' retelling of his own experience with a malignant eye tumour the tone shifts too. Aside from the sympathy we might feel for his predicament, it's also compelling to find Sacks able to document and analyse his condition and its impact on his vision in such detail. Maybe this is an attempt to achieve some clinical distance from what's happening, a distance that would make it more comfortable to deal with, and that's all the more affecting for being such an understandable human response.

Sacks lets you understand how complex visual perception can be, with various parts of the brain working in tandem to achieve routine daily tasks, like reading. You also come to understand how studying the aberrant lets us understand the ordinary - it's when some part of the process breaks down or goes missing that we catch sight of the underlying structures and systems that were making it all possible in the first place.

The book is thankfully free of medical jargon and obtuse acronyms and is entirely approachable and absorbing without ever being patronising. Although I vaguely knew of Oliver Sacks' work I hate to admit this is the first time I've actually read one of his books - it wont be the last and I doubt there's a better compliment you could pay an author. Completely fascinating and highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent book from Oliver Sacks, 24 Sep 2010
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mind's Eye (Hardcover)
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This is another excellent book from Oliver Sacks. The Mind's Eye is concerned mainly with vision - particularly the question of how our brains process the information from our eyes to form images, and the nature of remembered or imagined images. It is fascinating and illuminating and it has all Sacks's characteristic insight and brilliance combined with immense humanity and empathy with his subjects. It is, as always, quite beautifully written.

Following the pattern of many of his other books, Sacks gives us case studies of patients with some malfunction of their visual perception in which he gives an exceptionally clear, vivid account of the problems and a brilliant analysis of what we can learn from them about the way in which we process and use visual information. All of them are very involving and extremely interesting, and the book closes with a very fine essay about visual perception. The longest, and to me most involving, "case study" (about a quarter of the book) consists of extracts from Sacks's own journal during the time he developed a melanoma on his right retina. He observes the visual effects with characteristic brilliance, but also talks openly about his human reaction to developing cancer, to his treatment and his experiences as a patient and ultimately to losing some of his vision. It is an exceptional piece of writing even by Sacks's own stellar standard, and a very touching personal account.

This isn't a book to relax with after a rough day - it requires and deserves concentration - but it is gripping in its way and immensely rewarding. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it very warmly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sacks' books are always fascinating, 8 April 2014
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Mr. P. Noakes - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mind's Eye (Paperback)
Oliver Sacks' books are always fascinating and absorbing - if you see his name on the cover and want something to read on your journey, or sitting out in the sun in a local park, or of an evening, or at any other time, buy the book. In the opening case history of 'In the Mind's Eye' we are given the name of the patient, an outstanding concert pianist. She's well represented on the internet, so looking her up provides added interest. This is outstanding book - put your money down - you won't regret it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic writing!, 22 Aug 2013
By 
Ben Whitehouse "Book geek" (Wrexham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mind's Eye (Hardcover)
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Oliver Sacks has built his reputation on making the workings of human behaviour and the mind accessible to non-specialists. The Mind's Eye is a treat. A collection of essays based on his own experiences, case notes and famous cases- wonderful.
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The Mind's Eye
The Mind's Eye by Oliver Sacks (Paperback - 2 Sep 2011)
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