Mar 11, 2008

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

and Other Clinical Tales
by Oliver Sacks

In the same vein as An Anthropologist on Mars, this book is a collection of twenty-four stories describing various neurological patients. They suffer from a wide variety of maladies involving perception- a woman who cannot tell where parts of her body are located, a man who has entirely lost his sense of balance, various patients with phantom limbs, Tourette's syndrome, strange kinds of memory loss and more.

I first came across this book when a college roommate was reading it years ago. The title story seemed so bizarre I was a bit incredulous. The experiences related in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat are a bit harder to relate to than those in An Anthropologist- it's easier to imagine what it's like to be a blind man with restored sight than a person who continually perceives one object to be another entirely. If anything, that makes this book even more fascinating.

Rating: 4/5 ......... 233 pages, 1970

More opinions at:
Things Mean a Lot
Stuck in a Book

6 comments:

Trish said...

At the beginning of your post I had started to wonder where you found these books--sounds like a book my old roommate would really like as well. She was a psych major; I'll have to pass the info onto her.

Jeane said...

I think my roommate was a psych major too, it's been so long I hardly remember. She recommended several books to me that sparked an interest in the subject which I've never yet grown tired of.

Juli said...

Both of these sound FANTASTIC...and even though i teach bio I was a pscyh major!! Did you read The Echo Maker? He refers to cases like these in the book.

Eva said...

I finally read this book last year, after reading a couple of the stories for my intro to psych class fours years ago. I'm hoping to read his newest book, Musicophilia this month. :)

Amelia said...

I read this for a writing class - you might be interested in the "Vital Signs" column in Discover magazine - it's like House for people who don't watch TV.

Jeane said...

Juli and Eva- thanks for adding two new titles to my TBR! I hadn't heard of these, but definitely want to read them now.

Amelia- thanks for the recommendation.