Oliver Sacks 1933-2015

oliver sacksWith the sad passing of Oliver Sacks yesterday at the age of 82, I think that it is worthwhile to remember the many fabulous written achievements of his lifetime.  Mr. Sacks was able to make his work as a neurologist accessible to the layperson through case studies that illustrated the humanity of each person he described.  He may be best known for his early work, Awakenings” which was made into a movie starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro.  Since then, his books “Musicophilia“, “The Mind’s Eye“, and “Hallucinations“, just to name a few, have all been best sellers.  “Musicophilia” explores the connections between music and the brain, not only how music is a stimulant that moves and haunts us  but also how music can be used as a treatment for brain afflictions.  “The Mind’s Eye” is a fascinating as well as personal look at how people compensate for vision loss, alteration or impairment and how the brain is able to discover new ways to “see” the world.  “Hallucinations” discusses the hallucinatory experience, whether accidental or self-induced, that is, according to Sacks, a “vital part of our human condition” that teaches us about the inner workings of our brains.

Oliver Sacks just published his memoir this year, called “On the Move“, in which he shares many of his personal as well as professional achievements, his coming out as a gay man, his addiction to amphetamines, and finally, the announcement of his terminal cancer.  “On the Move”, as well as many other of Mr. Sacks’ books are available at the Caledon Library.

For a summary and eulogy of the life of this impressive man, The New York Times has written an excellent article which you can read here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/31/science/oliver-sacks-dies-at-82-neurologist-and-author-explored-the-brains-quirks.html

Below is Oliver Sacks’ 2009 TED talk about hallucinations.