The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

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  • Topic: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Sense, Prime number
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  • Published : October 14, 2006
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The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat is a 1985 book by neurologist Oliver Sacks describing the case histories of some of Dr. Sacks's patients. The title of the book comes from the case study of a man with visual agnosia.

The other essays in this book include:

•"The Lost Mariner", about Jimmie G., who has lost the ability to form new memories due to Korsakoff's syndrome. He can remember nothing of his life since his demobilization at the end of WWII, including events that happened only a few minutes ago, and must struggle to form an identity.

•"The President's Speech" - about a ward of aphasiacs and agnosiacs listening to a speech given by President Reagan. Each group saw flaws in the president's content and presentation respectively, flaws which escaped the notice of 'normal' people.

•"The Disembodied Lady" a unique case of a woman losing her entire sense of proprioception (the sense of the position of parts of the body, relative to other neighbouring parts of the body).
•"On The Level" A patient who has trouble walking upright and discovers that he has lost his innate sense of balance due to Parkinson's-like symptoms that have damaged his inner ears; the patient, comparing his sense of balance to a carpenter's spirit level, suggests the construction of a similar level inside a pair of glasses, which enables him to judge his balance by sight. •"The Twins" - about autistic savants. Dr. Sacks tries to connect with twin brothers by joining their game of finding very large prime numbers. He cheats and uses a book; neither of them can read or even do multiplication. They instantly count 111 dropped matches simultaneously noticing that 111 is three 37s.

[The book] is insightful, compassionate, moving and, on occasion, simply infuriating. One could call these essays neurological case histories, and correctly so, although Dr. Sacks' own expression--"clinical tales"--is far more apt. Dr. Sacks tells some two dozen stories about people who are also...
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