Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks
World famous neurologist Oliver Sacks is renowned for bringing the mysteries of the brain to life through his fascinating works such as Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. His latest work focuses on hallucinations, of which there is a wide variety. The introduction looks into the influences hallucinations may have had in our culture through folktales, aboriginal drawings and drug inspired ‘trips.’
Although the word hallucinations may instantly conjure up ideas of madness, Sacks assures us that this is not usually the case and this old-fashioned belief is the root of many experiences never being admitted to. A high number of reported hallucinations have little connection to psychosis and can be of sight, sound or smell – phantopsia, phantosmia or phantacusis. It is made clear that a large percentage of hallucinations are a result of diminished external stimuli and lack of sleep. He reports on numerous patients who suffer from visual impairments, blindness, sensory deprivation, migraines, epilepsy and alcohol abuse, which have all led to hallucinations.
Sacks also gives a very honest recollection of his personal experience with hallucinogenic drugs and the mind-altering outcomes. Refreshingly, he steers clear of the ethics surrounding this subject completely and simply reports his personal account and reactions for the reader to digest.
This book is just as though provoking, informative and engrossing as Sacks previous works. Filled with unique, personalized case studies, references to previous important works and historically significant hallucinations, this book encapsulates the subject perfectly. With such an in-depth neurological knowledge, it would be easy to write an overwhelming piece but Hallucinations is both accessible and fun to read without feeling lightweight. An absolute must-read for all popular science fans.
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