The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat – Why it is an essential read.

Is The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat a must-read? Yes,I would say so.

The book isn’t solely based on one case alone; it comprises 24 cases split into 4 chapters,each dealing with a particular mechanism of the brain.

Where do I begin? I think it is commanding of Sacks that the 24 cases are all unique.There do exist some similarities among the cases,but these only demonstrate the multiple facets of a disease.Otherwise each of them strikes a different chord in the reader,as they revolve about different persons,about different struggles,and thus,are written differently.Take ‘Rebecca’ and ‘The Lost Mariner’ for examples.Both are terribly moving,although essentially very different.

It does not surprise me that so many of Sacks’ books are best-sellers.He truly is a gifted individual who can convey the complexities of our brains in mere simple words.He has the knack for capturing our attention from the start to the end.He is so good that at times the cases had the looks of short stories! But,most importantly,what I really liked with his writing is that the humaneness wasn’t omitted.He didn’t just content himself with writing about the syndromes,the effects and the analysis of the disease; he wrote expansively about the feelings of not only his patients but of himself as well,both as a neurologist and human being.In so doing,he inevitably evoked pathos in us.I must admit that his use of the psychological term ‘moron’ did break my heart,as I realized that some people are born to stay in a debilitating state forever – ‘Rebecca’ was unforgettable in that respect.

Sacks sure analysed the course of the illness,but also provided us with a different outlook on these people; an autistic individual as an island,for instance,is something I never thought of before,and such a queer but very plausible view will stay with me for the rest of my life.A different outlook on disabled people is exactly what this book will offer you.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat can also be frightful at times,as it sheds light on the many diseases which can be as bad as or worse than Alzheimer.But,at the same time,it is very insightful in the sense that we learn something from nearly every page on the complexities and powers of the brain.If you have a curious mind,then this one is for you!

Well,let me end this post with a little anecdote of mine.I recently stumbled upon this book on one of my umpteen visits at Waterstones(heaven! – even if I don’t buy anything there),and I sure was happy that I read it.Reading books supposedly makes you more empathetic as a person,but few can infuse as much empathy in you as The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.This book made me more inclined to help people in need and to try to understand them.We think we can understand what a disabled individual is going through with just a quick glance; we look at him and feel some pity,and implicitly think ‘That’s it! I felt some pain for him.That’s enough.’ Sacks’ book alters this attitude.In Marks&Spencer,I once saw an old lady on a wheelchair whose tics resembled seizures.I thought of the healthy woman she once was,the helplessness she must be experiencing,or the medicines she has to take which,while slowing her tics,will slow her life down and make her a complete ‘vegetable’.I thought of all of this in a matter of seconds and went my way,but such empathetic view was lacking before I had read this book.

So,I think you should pick the book if you see it somewhere.You don’t have to read it within days,like I did; it can as well serve as a wonderful accompanying read which can be your bedside mate for over a period as long as 1 year! You don’t have to read it completely either.You can just go through the chapters which look most interesting to you…

P.S: I was supposed to be revising for a upcoming test,but at 00:20,I decided to write this quick post.Hope you like it and thanks if you’ve read it! 🙂


13 thoughts on “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat – Why it is an essential read.”

  1. I read this years ago for a high school psychology course, and then went on a Sacks binge (Awakenings is sort of a must-read, but I also personally really enjoyed Musicophilia). I wish there were more writers able to blend science and humanity as Sacks does; as you say, he has a way of using his case studies both as opportunities to reflect on the patient as an individual and on the broader commonalities that exist between people.

    1. I must read his other books one day! 🙂
      And yes,you’re absolutely right! We need more authors in the medical department to convey the struggles of these patients to the ‘mass’,and this with the same pathos found in Sack’s writing!!

  2. What a great review that did justice to Sacks’ wonderful book. I just loved this book. I think what I valued most about it was the way Sacks would think outside the box with his treatments and really saw each patient as a human being that he truly wanted to help. His belief in treating the patient like a whole person, instead of the view of separating the psychology and the body into specialized parts is so true. If more doctors could emulate him, medicine would be in a better place.

    How are you doing, BTW? I hope that you’ve adjusted more to school and are experiencing more brighter days than gloomy ones!

    @ Cricketmuse – that movie was based on Sacks’ book “Awakenings”, wasn’t it?

    1. You’re right about Oliver Sacks!
      The humaneness that emanates from the writing is what makes this book such an essential read!

      Oh,I’m getting used to uni life.Haha.
      On the day I posted this article,I went to sleep at 2 in the morning and woke up at 8 to finish a work which I had to submit before noon! Haha…
      It’s hard in the sense that there is a lot of homework,and you have to do all by yourself – no parents to do the washing,for example.
      My course is particularly hard.The timetable keeps expanding and the free time I used to have in the first weeks have all vanished! They’ve been replaced with even more modules!
      But well,I try not to think about it and instead just go with the flow! 🙂

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