3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the mind
Many of us feel removed from the world of medicine. Doctors seem to speak a language beyond our comprehension. Oliver Sacks takes us into his world where we feel immediately at home. He writes of real people and gives us a fascinating, if disturbing, insight into the paradoxes of the human mind.
For me the most moving story is 'The Last Hippy'. Greg lost his immediate...
Published on March 5 2002 by S. Cornforth
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sporadically wonderful, consistently immersive.
By no means do clinical case histories hold boundless interest; the cases themselves are only as interesting as they are far from analogy. The book opens with an outstanding treatise on perception (The Case of the Colorblind Artist) but, from then on, Sacks manages to enumerate merely interesting tales of various misperceptions without the neurological backdrop of the...
Published on March 15 2002 by EMK
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the mind,
This review is from: An Anthropologist On Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales (Paperback)Many of us feel removed from the world of medicine. Doctors seem to speak a language beyond our comprehension. Oliver Sacks takes us into his world where we feel immediately at home. He writes of real people and gives us a fascinating, if disturbing, insight into the paradoxes of the human mind.
For me the most moving story is 'The Last Hippy'. Greg lost his immediate memory following a massive cerebral tumour. However many times you see him it is always a meeting of strangers. They go to a Grateful Dead concert. Greg is once again a fan. He shouts cheers and sings. Next day the whole experience has gone.
We also read of the Tourette's syndrome sufferer whose tics disappear whenever he begins work - as a surgeon. There is the artist who sees only black and white, the autistic/artistic genius.
This is a gem of a book which deserves to be read over and over. You will learn something new every time.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Oliver Sacks,
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This review is from: An Anthropologist on Mars (Paperback)As with all Oliver Sacks books: so absorbing.
All subjects he covers are unusual and moving.
Highly recommend anything he writes.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating trip into the mysteries of the humain mind,
This review is from: An Anthropologist on Mars (Hardcover)Instructive and touching. Dr Sacks writes well, he gives us scientific facts about strange neurologic cases, but always with real concern and empathy for these people.
5.0 out of 5 stars The humane psychiatrist,
This review is from: An Anthropologist On Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales (Paperback)I am filled with awe for a psychiatrist like Sacks, who takes personal interest in every special person he comes across in his professional life. He has the rare insight to recognise each individual as a unique, never-to-be-repeated creation of the Creator, and to accord the respect and awe due to each patient he comes across; even to observe, sometimes with a sense of humour, the relativity of our definitions of 'normaility'. The time Sacks takes to just be with each special person, and appreciate the uniqueness of each, is commendable, and goes way beyond a mere call of duty. When an autistic person, featured in this book, commended that she feels like "an anthropologist on Mars" because she has to study human behaviour and interactions to be socially adaptable, Sacks picked up on her standpoint, and recognised, with unusual humility, that as a psychiatrist of special persons, he too is like an anthropologist on Mars, not always understanding their world, but not being too quick to pronounce them stereotypically abnormal and himself normal...a sensitive, insightful work that reflects a sensitive, insightful author.
5.0 out of 5 stars detachment?,
This review is from: An Anthropologist On Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales (Paperback)Oliver Sacks's title "An Anthropologist from Mars" suggests detachment(35 million miles) yet he investigates the intimate details of human perception. It took me nearly 50 pages to remember to see that it is his literary zoom lens that I find so
fascinating. From the 5x of historical perspective to the 500x of a patient's diagnosis he twirls the lens. I love it.
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good book from Sacks,
This review is from: An Anthropologist On Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales (Paperback)Yes, indeedy. If you like Oliver Sacks' other books, you will like this one.
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary; a work of genius,
This review is from: An Anthropologist on Mars: Paradoxical Tales (Audio Cassette)These are true tales from a clinical neurologist's notebook, but this isn't just any neurologist. Oliver Sacks, author of the justly celebrated, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (1986) and Awakenings (1973), which was later made into a movie starring Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams, and other works, is a gifted writer with a fine sense of story and an even finer sense of humanity. He has a style, how shall I say, both affecting and fascinating, yet studiously objective, a style laced with footnotes and clinical observations, historical comparisons and wisdom. Part of the power of these tales, and of all of Sacks's work, is his ability to be totally engaged and to identify with the subject while part of him is off to the side observing with scientific impartiality. This makes for a compelling read. If you've never read Sacks before, you are in for a very special treat.
These tales are paradoxical because "Defects, disorders, diseases" can bring out "latent powers, developments, evolutions, forms of life, that might never be seen or even be imaginable, in their absence." It is this "<creative> potential, that forms the central theme of this book" (from Sacks's Preface, page xvi).
The first tale, "The Case of the Colorblind Painter" is about a successful artist who worked in color all his life only to became colorblind at age sixty-five, and the effect this had on his life and work. The second, "The Last Hippie" is about an amnesiac man with a frontal lobe tumor that left him stranded in the sixties. Sacks tells this sad, pathetic story with vivid detail, and characteristically ends it with a footnote, a footnote of such warmth and genuine identification that we are moved to tears. (Don't skip the footnotes!)
The third tale, "A Surgeon's Life," is an amazing account of a Canadian surgeon with Tourette's syndrome. It is here that we begin to see the central theme of this book in brilliant illumination. Dr. Carl Bennett, riddled with the bizarre tics characteristic of the disorder, compulsions that cause him to throw things, to touch things again and again in a ritualistic manner, to flail, jump and jerk about, nonetheless became a very successful (and beloved) doctor of surgery. Sacks scrubs up with Dr. Bennett and goes into surgery with him, during which, miraculously, the tics disappear for however long it takes to complete the surgery. Sacks visits him at home and meets his wife and two children, sees the dents in the refrigerator and on the walls, and comes away with a sense of how astounding the human potential to overcome adversity can be.
The fourth tale, "To See and Not See," is about partially restored sight and how it was not a blessing. This sad story illustrates how sight is learned from infancy and is largely a constructive and interpretive function of the brain. This tale also lets us see how the world of the sightless can be rich and fulfilling beyond our imagination.
In the fifth tale, "The Landscape of His Dreams, we meet a gifted artist, Franco Magnani, who from memory alone recreates his home town of Pontito, Italy through his paintings. He has a nearly photographic, three-dimensional memory, but because of a strange illness that befell him when he was thirty-one, he cares only to re-create his Pontito, not the people or events, but the houses, the masonry, the stones, and he does so continually with microscopic and affecting detail.
The chapter "Prodigies," focuses on an autistic artist, Stephen Wiltshire, whom Sacks is determined to befriend and understand. In this tale, and the concluding tale, "An Anthropologist on Mars," Sacks helps us to penetrate the world of the autistic and see it (at least in my interpretation) as an alternate view of reality, a view with its own strengths and weaknesses, a world that is just as true and valid as the "normal" one. Of course severe autism is debilitating in the extreme, and even modest autism can permanently scar and alienate the autistic from society. Yet, perhaps that is society's loss. I even got the sense, in reading these concluding stories about autism, that perhaps theirs is an evolutionary "strategy" trying to emerge, that is, a different way of seeing and dealing with the world that also might work. I would not be shocked to discover some day that the autistic, with their sometimes extraordinary gifts of memory and concentration, are melded more completely and seamlessly into our usual consciousness, and that humankind is the better for it. Incidentally, the last tale about Temple Grandin, who is a professor of animal studies at Colorado State University, is remarkable because it is about an autistic who is completely integrated into the society, yet remains autistic. She is the one who says she sometimes feels, because of her different perspective, like "an anthropologist on Mars" when she views "normal" people. Sacks allows us to see why.
Bottom line: this is an extraordinary book of insight and scholarship about the human condition, written with grace and a deep sense of humanity, not to be missed.
5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough And Compassionate!,
This review is from: An Anthropologist On Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales (Paperback)Oliver Sacks has always had a knack for deftly explaining the sometimes confusing world of neurology, but "Anthropologist" is a remarkable series of case studies. Dr. Sacks weaves the tales of seven human beings, each having a different neurological "difference" and portraying them in a matter of fact, logical light. Instead of viewing each person as having a disability, Dr. Sacks focuses on the remarkable way they have learned to adapt and make the best out of all situations. What to make of a painter that is colorblind? How can a person with Tourette Syndrome possibly be a surgeon? Why does an autistic teenager seem unable to verbally communicate appropriately, yet shows signs of immense, almost sacred "feelings" in his drawings? All these questions are anwered and mostly with more questions. However, this book differs than most in that it manages to bring a "soulful spirit" to those of which Dr. Sacks writes. A spirit that eludes most human beings.
4.0 out of 5 stars powerfull book,
This review is from: An Anthropologist On Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales (Paperback)this books proves that when certain parts in a person mind may back lacking other my be more than other pepoles.this was a great book the essays are very moving and really make you feel for there subjects.i espically enjoyed the two autism articles.
5.0 out of 5 stars A sympathetic, almost poetic ,writer,
This review is from: An Anthropologist On Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales (Paperback)Oliver Sacks has the uncanny ability to take the reader into the minds and lives of his patients, and make them real. I've always found the autistic Temple Grandin particularly fascinating. Unable to understand human beings (hence the title, _An Anthropologist on Mars,_) she found she could connect with, and understand, animals. The other stories are equally interesting. An artist loses his color vision. At first he is terribly distaught. Then later he finds he enjoys it. For one, he begins to live at night, with a totally new life. He also finds (as others in his situation have discovered) that his eyesight is radically sharper--he can read a license plate a block away. Another of his patients suffers from Tourette's Syndrome. In his case one advantage is his reflexes become abnormally fast--he can dash in and out of revolving doors (and when he goes on medication he ends up slowed down, which results in some painful collusions.) An intriguing book that everyone should enjoy.
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An Anthropologist On Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales by Oliver Sacks (Paperback - 1996)
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