Kat Dyke- Book review: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

As a PhD student in Psychology I have come across and read (or at least attempted to read) an array of books probing the human psyche and the complexity of the human brain. These prescribed texts have undoubtedly increased my knowledge and helped me throughout my studies, however I often feel that they are missing a critical human element. What I mean by this is that there is a tendency in academic writing (particularly in neuroscience) to describe a condition in detail and then skim over any details relating to the person. This makes it particularly refreshing to come across books like ‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat –and other clinical tales’ by Oliver Sacks.

Oliver Sacks was a practising neurologist with a talent for writing. Over the course of his lifetime he wrote engaging, informative and empathetic articles about the people he worked with and their various neurological conditions. ‘The Man Who….’ describes a range of different case studies which refer to different brain functions and what can happen when things go awry; including a man who can recognise music but not the faces of familiar people, a woman who lost awareness of her own body and twins with extraordinary mathematical skills. The wonderful thing about this book is that it explores the fascinating aspects of various neurological conditions without forgetting the people who experience them. The book is beautifully written, informative and always very human.

books

Books can inspire, inform, entertain and comfort.  In particular books discussing mental health can provide valuable insights into topics which are not always openly discussed. If you have a book you’d like to discuss, please write in and share!

Kat Dyke (lpxksd@nottingham.ac.uk)

PhD Student, School of Psychology

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