In The Mind’s Eye, Oliver Sacks tells the stories of people who are able to navigate the world and communicate with others despite losing what many of us consider indispensable senses and abilities: the power of speech, the capacity to recognize faces, the sense of three-dimensional space, the ability to read, the sense of sight. For all of these people, the challenge is to adapt to a radically new way of being in the world.
There is Lilian, a concert pianist who becomes unable to read music and is eventually unable even to recognize everyday objects, and Sue, a neurobiologist who has never seen in three dimensions, until she suddenly acquires stereoscopic vision in her fifties.
There is Pat, who reinvents herself as a loving grandmother and active member of her community, despite the fact that she has aphasia and cannot utter a sentence, and Howard, a prolific novelist who must find a way to continue his life as a writer even after a stroke destroys his ability to read.
And there is Dr. Sacks himself, who tells the story of his own eye cancer and the bizarre and disconcerting effects of losing vision to one side.
Sacks explores some very strange paradoxes—people who can see perfectly well but cannot recognize their own children, and blind people who become hyper-visual or who navigate by “tongue vision.” He also considers more fundamental questions: How do we see? How do we think? How important is internal imagery—or vision, for that matter? Why is it that, although writing is only five thousand years old, humans have a universal, seemingly innate, potential for reading?
The Mind’s Eye is a testament to the complexity of vision and the brain and to the power of creativity and adaptation. And it provides a whole new perspective on the power of language and communication, as we try to imagine what it is to see with another person’s eyes, or another person’s mind.
About the Author
Oliver Sacks is a practicing physician and the author of ten books, including Musicophilia, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and Awakenings (which inspired the Oscar-nominated film). He lives in New York City, where he is a professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and the first Columbia University Artist.
Praise for The Mind's Eye…
“An absorbing attempt to unravel the complexities of the human mind.” –Kirkus
“A master storyteller with a very engaging style…as a professional who is also a patient, [Sacks] has a unique ability to explain to people what the basic problem is and what the physical effects are…he allows all of us to share this and perhaps take some understanding away with us.” –gulfnews.com
“Sacks has a seemingly inexhaustible talent for eloquently and humanely explaining our brains’ most arcane and bizarre neurological dysfunctions.” –Time Magazine
“Sacks has taken the patient history—the most basic tool of medicine—and turned it into art…Sacks is a literary, medical, narrative showman…It is a neat trick when the point of a book is made not by saying and not by showing, but by being.” –The New York Review of Books
“A new book by Oliver Sacks is always cause for rejoicing.” –Christianity Today
“Sacks knows how to go from ‘aw, what an inspirational story,’ to ‘oooh what an interesting disease,’ from one page to the next, making this a medical page-turner you won’t want to miss.” –Inside Beat
“Engrossing and bizarre.” –Elle
“Richly detailed…creatively balances complex medical discussion with solid, down-to-earth prose, which will attract his legion of fans interested in the human condition.” –Library Journal
“Breathtaking…Sacks will draw you into a fascinating mental landscape that will leave you in awe of its strange, often spiritual and exquisite pathways.” –Bookpage
“Just as [Sacks] is forced to see the world in a new way, readers are invited to do the same.” –Time Out New York
“Sacks’ writing manages to be at once lively and crystalline.” –Time
“Inquisitive and horrified at once, Sacks shows us knowledge, discipline, and imagination confronting the terrors of illness and loss…Readers may never take the view of a sunrise or of their child’s smile the same way again.” –Boston Globe
“Frank and moving…His books resonate because they reveal as much about the force of character as they do about neurology.” –Nature
“Poignant.” –Barnes and Noble review
“Sparkling…brilliant.” –The VisionHelp Blog
“Heartbreaking and hilarious.” –Time
“Elegant…Sacks musters up the same degree of courage and resilience that he admires in his patients.” –San Francisco Chronicle
“Sacks is fascinating, and the breadth of knowledge he brings to his case histories is impressive.” –Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Offers genuine inspiration and hope for the everyday aging brains we all possess…Sacks is a mapmaker guiding us deep into the mysteries of the brain.” –New York Journal of Books
“The Mind’s Eye should become required reading in all medical schools.” –Wicked Local Cambridge
“[Sacks] entertains and diverts with his dramatic tales…deeply empathetic.” –The New York Times Book Review
“What elevates this clinical material into the realm of high literature are the author’s superb observational skills, without equal…Sacks’s amazing powers to describe, to evoke, to call forth, to fascinate, and to associate outdo themselves…the reader comes away with numinous feelings of wonder, mysticism, and gratitude. What more can one want from any book?” –Science Magazine
“Sacks excels at tracking down fascinating case studies…stunning.” –Science News
“Written with his trademark insight, compassion, and humor, these seven new tales once again make the obscure and arcane absolutely absorbing.” –Publishers Weekly
“Sacks is a perfect antidote to the anaesthetic of familiarity…Sacks fans will get what they want: the comfortable prose, the well-crafted storytelling and the generosity of spirit.” –The Guardian
“Stellar…Sacks writes with a dexterous clarity that illuminates the incredibly complex neurological conditions he studies, and lends wit, humor, understanding and compassion…dazzling.” –The Dallas Morning News
”Elaborate and gorgeously detailed case studies.” –Los Angeles Times
“The Mind’s Eye is both intellectually compelling and at times poetic…a profound reflection on the anomalies of human experience.”–New America Foundation
“His book is entertaining and also inspirational…Don’t miss The Mind’s Eye.” –Hudson Valley News
“In Sacks’ world, even with great loss there are fascinating compensations.” –People, four star review
“Implicit in Sacks’s panorama of clinical problems is a deep and surprising view of reading, perceiving, and understanding…extraordinarily poignant.” –Harpers Magazine
“Science geeks will drool over The Mind’s Eye.” –The Village Voice
“Graceful.” –New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books of 2010
“Compelling.” –Financial Times non-fiction favorites of 2010
“Sacks writes beautifully…his periodic collections of essays are unfailingly wise, human and edifying...The Mind’s Eye is a welcome addition to the rich repository of Sacks’ collected works.” –OregonLive.com
“Fine science reading for those with an interest in the medical realm, and entertaining enough for the rest of us.” –Daily Herald
“Sacks can open windows on subject that, prior to his arrival, left people in the dark…The possibility of yet another Sacks book is reason enough to get out of bed in the morning.” –The Hartford Courant
“We can only be helped by remembering, as books like The Mind’s Eye illuminate for us, that there are few human failings worse than taking for granted life and its manifold hidden miracles.” –PopMatters
“Insightful.” –Impose Magazine
“[Sacks’] personal diary is the most moving account he has ever published.” –Financial Times
“Dr. Sacks is an engaging writer with endlessly interesting stories…The Mind’s Eye turns out to be fabulously useful.” –Hipster Book Club
“Brilliant…The Mind’s Eye is an exhilarating book.” –Cerebrum
“In grappling opening with his postcancer loss of stereoscropy, Sacks slowly comes to terms with his own permanent shift in perspective. Just as he is forced to see the world in a new way, readers are invited to do the same.” –Time Out Amsterdam
“The only thing better than a new book by practicing neurologist Oliver Sacks is a new book of case studies by the good doctor.” –The Free Lance-Star