Oliver Sacks

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The Mind, The Brain, The Myth

In “The Mind’s Eye,” Oliver Sacks opens up by asking three similar questions: “To what extent are we – our experiences, our reactions – shaped, predetermined, by our brains, and to what extent do we shape our own brains? Does the mind run the brain or the brain the mind – or, rather, to what extent does one run the other? To what extent are we the authors, the creators, of our own experiences?” (214) These three questions refer to the same question of the limit of control between the mind and brain. These questions begin to cast doubts on the belief of the brain being a “hard-wired” organ. They ensue an argument of self-finding; can our minds change the thought process of the brain? By answering the main question of which is in more control, many underlying questions can then be answered as well. Is the brain the center of control that constitutes every experience, or can the mind adjust this thought process to fit its demands; perhaps this is left in a paradox between the two where the control is only defined by one’s self.

Oliver Sacks goes on to explain his view and give examples of people who he believes have had their mind make adjustments in their brain’s “hard-wiring”. In doing so, Sacks elaborates on the relationship between the mind and the brain, along with the self and experience. All four are connected and hold a readaptation is necessary in order to survive. The way the brain will adapt if it does so at all is up to one’s self. Based on the way one separates and absorbs information, how they think can determine how their brain will adapt. Sack particularizes on the differences in adaptation in his stories, in one instance between two people both effected by blindness, John Hull and Zoltan Torey. “Torey, unlike Hull, clearly played a very active role in building up his visual imagery, took control of it the moment the bandages were taken off, and never apparently experienced, or allowed, the sort of involuntary...
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