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Hallucinations [Hardcover]

Oliver Sacks
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 6 2012 0307402177 978-0307402172

Hallucinations, for most people, imply madness. But there are many different types of non-psychotic hallucination caused by various illnesses or injuries, by intoxication--even, for many people, by falling sleep. From the elementary geometrical shapes that we see when we rub our eyes to the complex swirls and blind spots and zigzags of a visual migraine, hallucination takes many forms. At a higher level, hallucinations associated with the altered states of consciousness that may come with sensory deprivation or certain brain disorders can lead to religious epiphanies or conversions. Drawing on a wealth of clinical examples from his own patients as well as historical and literary descriptions, Oliver Sacks investigates the fundamental differences and similarities of these many sorts of hallucinations, what they say about the organization and structure of our brains, how they have influenced every culture's folklore and art, and why the potential for hallucination is present in us all.

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An Amazon.com Best Book [2012]
FINALIST 2014 – Wellcome Book Prize
“Absorbing…. His compassion for his patients and his own philosophical outlook turn what might have been clinical case studies into humanely written short stories, animated as much by an intuitive appreciation of the human condition as by scientific understanding.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times Book Review
“[I]t is impossible not to get sucked in by the sheer enthusiasm with which he tackles his subject, the breadth of knowledge and research he brings to it, and the quirky charm he unleashes on nearly every page.”
Toronto Star
“Sacks triumphs. Not just in the clarity with which he teaches us about the obscure phenomenology of the human brain, but in the light his writing casts on even our most ordinary experiences.”
The Telegraph (4/5 stars)
“[Sacks is a] master at bridging the arts and the sciences…. Fascinating book…. Written with both grace and erudition, Hallucinations taps into the mysteries of the human brain in a way calculated to appeal to both the scientist and general reader with a questing mind.”
The Gazette

"Oliver Sacks is our greatest chronicler of people with unusual neurological and sensory disabilities and experiences."
The Globe and Mail

"With his trademark mix of evocative description, probing curiosity, and warm empathy, Sacks once again draws back the curtain on the mind's improbable workings."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Oliver Sacks...gets trippy."
—Quill & Quire

About the Author

OLIVER SACKS is a practicing physician and the author of 10 books, including The Mind's Eye, Musicophilia,The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Awakenings (which inspired the Oscar-nominated film). He lives in New York City, where he is a professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and the first Columbia University Artist. The author lives in New York, NY.

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By John Kwok TOP 100 REVIEWER
Widely acclaimed for both his superb literary talent and his excellent abilities in explaining the most difficult concepts in neurology and psychiatry, Oliver Sacks gives readers a most superlative overview on the nature and causes of hallucinations in his latest book "Hallucinations". As he notes in the introduction to his book which is indeed a most apt summation of it:

"I think of this book, then, as a sort of natural history or anthology of hallucinations, describing the experiences and impact of hallucinations on those who have them, for the power of hallucinations is to be understood from first-person accounts."

This is indeed a most accurate assessment from Sacks himself of his latest book, which covers virtually every aspect of hallucinations, except for those induced within those people suffering from schizophrenia, simply because they require ".....a book of their own, for they cannot be divorced from the often profoundly altered inner life and life circumstances of those with schizophrenia."

Drawing extensively on his personal interactions with patients, other medical reports and religious and artistic references, Sacks demonstrates how hallucinations can be viewed as an "essential part of the human condition." In his rather elegant, yet simple, literary style, Sacks explains the neurophysiology behind notable causes of hallucinations like the Charles Bonnet Syndrome, sensory deprivation, Parkinsonism, being delirious, narcolepsy, and even the existence of phantom limbs observed all too often by amputees.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Hallucinations an interesting phenomena Dec 18 2013
By Karly
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I find Oliver Sacks an excellent author - as in previous books neurologist, Sacks smoothly bridges being a professional by explaining complex phenomena in terms that anyone can understand. Hallucinations is an insightful book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Oliver Sacks wins again Jan. 17 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Bought this book for my wife, who is a big Oliver Sacks fan. She loved the book, although there are a number of places where we both have significant disagreement with his conclusions, especially regarding beliefs in 'non-physical' things.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hallucinations - Oliver Sacks Dec 30 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Entertaining and highly informative. Clarifies the true nature of visions, near death experiences, alien abductions etc. One of the most interesting writers currently publishing.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Complexities of Brain Functions April 15 2013
By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
This latest book by world-famous psychiatrist, Oliver Sacks, advances the theory that persistent or temporary auditory and visual hallucinations are the result of cerebral aberrations arising from various pathologies, and not an early sign of a dangerous psychosis or even connected with dreams. What is significant about this book is the incredible information Sacks brings to the discussion as to a definition of hallucination, what it looks like and how it can be handled within the context of daily life. Everything from Charles Bonnet Syndrome to epilepsy to Parkinson's to migraines to narcolepsy to deliriums is up for discussion. In a very engaging, easy-to-read style, Sacks draws on a wealth of information that ranges from describing the effects of his own extensive use of LSD, morphine and natural hallucinogens during the sixties to analyzing strange psychological disorders in his patients. What he discovered from his long-term study of the subject is that hallucinations or the existence of unreal images projected on to the mind or an external surface can happen as a result of chemical imbalance, sensory impairment, drug ingestion, or catastrophic head injury. Sacks' findings point to neurological conditions that are strange, disturbing and instructive. In the past, such revelations of the mind were seen as signs of the demonic or surreal. Today, neurological research suggests that hallucinations and other cerebral images are conditions that should be seen as a complex mind playing tricks on our very vulnerable senses. Rather than fearing the initial power of these disorders, Sacks believes the individual can learn how to control, manage, and even harness these impulses or urges to one's advantage. Knowing what scientifically causes such phenomena is liberating in itself and goes a long way to establishing the truth.
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