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Hallucinations [Hardcover]

Oliver Sacks
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 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 500 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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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book covers a number of medical conditions that cause hallucinations and does a good job of doing it in a colourfully and destigmatizing way. As a medical student is has opened my eyes to the surprising prevalence of hallucinations and it did a great job of describing what those hallucinations were like to the people experiencing.

As a keen student of neuroscience though I was a little disappointed. There is very little about the physiologic basis of hallucinations, and I think it would have been very interesting to explore how each of the different conditions creates their unique brand of hallucinations through their own unique mechanisms... but if he had done that it would have made the book considerably dryer and it is likely the mechanisms are still unknown to us at this time anyway.

Would highly recommend for it's readability and breadth of discussion. Sacks is a wonderful physician, a brilliant thinker and a great writer.
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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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