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Hallucinations Hardcover – 8 Nov 2012
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‘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)
From the bestselling author of Musicophilia and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, a provocative investigation into hallucinations – auditory, visual, tactile, olfactory – their many guises, their physiological sources, and their personal and cultural resonances.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
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.
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.
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.
One example from recent history referred to in the book is the infamous Rosenhan experiment in the 1970s, reported at the time as "On being sane in insane places". It's a fascinating story, which caused a furore and lead to a major revision in how psychiatric diagnoses were arrived at.
Overall, the book is a interesting read. If it encourages people who experience troublesome hallucinations to seek help without fearing they will be automatically labelled mentally ill, that's a good thing. It's just a shame that the book's premise that, "Hallucinations don't belong wholly to the insane" should be so stigmatising; however I can see that, from a marketing point of view, it makes perfect sense to focus on what could be called "Hallucination Lite".
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