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Hallucinations Hardcover – Nov 6 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Canada (Nov. 6 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307402177
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307402172
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #34,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok TOP 500 REVIEWER on Nov. 10 2012
Format: Hardcover
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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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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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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