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The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat | Paperback (b format)

Released on 07 November 1986

Author: Oliver Sacks | Format: Paperback (b format)

4.0 out of 5 (2 customer reviews) | Write a review

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P., a music teacher, whose associates have questioned his perception, is referred by his ophthalmologist to the neurologist Oliver Sacks. During the first office visit, Sacks notices that P. faces him with his ears, not his eyes. His gaze seems unnatural, darting and fixating on the doctor's features one at a time. At the end of the interview, at which his wife is present, P. appears to grasp his wife's head and try to lift it off and put it on his own head. "He had . . . mistaken his wife for a hat!" She gave no sign that anything odd had happened.

During the second interview, at P.'s home, P. is unable to recognize the rose in Sacks' lapel, describing it as "a convoluted red form with a linear green attachment." He is encouraged to speculate on what it might be, and guesses it could be a flower. When he smells it, he comes to life and knows it. The wife explains that P. functions by making little songs about what he is doing--dressing, washing or eating. If the song is interrupted he simply stops, till he finds in his sensorium a clue on how to proceed.


This cantatory method of compensating allows P. to function undetected in his professional and personal life. He remains unaware that he has a problem. Sacks chooses not to disturb his ignorant bliss with a diagnosis. Though his disease (never diagnosed but hypothesized as a tumor or degeneration of the visual cortex) advances

customer Reviews

 Average rating (2 reviews)

 A Good but Hard Going Read!

| | See all nicolawigan's reviews (1)

Bought this book because a psychology lecture recommended it, it turns out it is quite an interesting read not only for a psychology graduate like myself but for anyone, discusses some interesting conditions in an amusing and sympathetic way.

i would recommend it, but it is a bit hard going sometimes, so be prepared to concentrate!

 enjoyable psychology!

| | See all abigaildav's reviews (1)

Really interesting book that stimulates your interest in neurological disorders. Not written like a textbook but as a series of case studies which means it reads almost like a novel due to the weird and wonderful disorders presenting.

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AuthorOliver Sacks
PublisherPan Macmillan (UK)
Year1986
ISBN9780330294911
Formatpaperback (B format) - 256 Pages
IllustrationsIllustrations