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My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Thursday, 30 November 2017

Oliver Sacks

I recently Read Oliver Sacks autobiography: On the Move. I recommend it

Sacks was British neurologist who only died a short time ago. He had a very eventful life rising to become one the most respected in his milieu, all well documented in this book .

Sacks spent most of his life in America. He found a rest home occupied by patients stricken with a Sleeping Sickness that had swept America between the two World wards. These patients were mainly in a catatonic and hopeless situation. He administered a drug called L-Dopa with amazing results bringing patients back to almost normal, but unfortunately for most only for a limited period. All this is outlined in the autobiography which was written much later.. He wrote a much more detailed account of individual case histories called: Awkakenings which I have now nearly finished here in hospital. Awakenings is as near as anything to an academic text book, but written with so much empathy and human understanding that I always wanted to read on. There are huge numbers of lengthy footnotes most of which I skipped.

In part of Sack's research and study he makes great importance of doctor and patient having a COMBINED mental approach and I found it fascinating that an academic of his standing was prepared to publish these almost metaphysical ideas - he ponders where this power for helping with neurological diseases can come from and how it can square up with the most up to date research in brain function. He also discusses the use of music (another very interesting section of suppositions and conjectures.)

 I was also impressed with the amount of knowledge sharing between OS and his many fellow scientific and academic friends and acquaintances.

My immediate reaction to things medical makes me squeamish, and often, in my own case, I think the less I know the better, so reading this was against the grain, but I know these two books and Sacks contribution to humanity will be stashed in my mental list of memorable books.


  1. He’s a great writer, isn’t he. In one of his books - A Leg to Stand On - he writes about his personal experiences after seriously shattering his knee, how he developed a ‘phantom limb’ and how music helped him to recover. Definitely worth reading if you haven’t already.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery, but enjoy the pampering while it lasts!

  2. Ruth - goood to hear your endorsement especially coming from your medical background. But on top of Sack’s tremendous grasp of his subject, as you say. he it’s a good writer. There are remarks from him that express his desire to be considered a WRITER as well as a celebrated neurologust

  3. You are now ready for Do No Harm by Henry Marsh.

  4. RR - I have read Direct Red by Gabriel Weston - looks similar, but will put Marsh on the list.