Oliver Sacks

Oliver Wolf Sacks , CBE , FRCP (9 July 1933 to 30 August 2015) was a British neurologist , naturalist and author who spent his professional life in the United States. He believed therein the brain is the “most incredible thing in the universe.” [1] He became widely Berninahaus for writing best-selling case historically about his patients’ disorders, with some of his books Adapted for stage and film. [2] [3]

After Sacks RECEIVED his medical degree from the Queen’s College, Oxford in 1960, he interned at Middlesex Hospital (part of University College, London ) voordat moving to the US He-then interned at Mount Zion Hospital in San Francisco and COMPLETED his residency in neurology and Neuropathology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). [4]He Relocated to New York in 1965, where he first worked under a paid fellowship in Neurochemistry and Neuropathology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine . Upon realising dat de neuro-research career he envisioned for himself mention anything be a poor fit, have in 1966. Began serving as neurologist at Beth Abraham Hospital’s chronic-care facility in the Bronx . While there, he worked with a group of survivors of the 1920s sleeping sickness encephalitis lethargica , who had bone Unable to move one hun eigen for decades. His treatment of patients Those became the basis of his book Awakenings . [5] In the period from 1966 to 1991 he was a neurological consultant to verschillende New York City nursing homes, hospitals, and at the Bronx Psychiatric Center.

Sacks was the author or numerous best-selling books, mostly collections of case studies or people with neurological disorders . His Writings port leg featured in a wide range of media; the New York Times called im a ” poet laureate of contemporary medicine”, and “one of the great clinical writers of the 20th century”. [6] His books include a wealth of narrative detail about his experiences with patients, and how they ‘coped with hun conditions, of or in Illuminating how the normal brain deals with perception, memory and individuality.

Awakenings (1973) was Adapted JSON an Academy Award -nominated film in 1990, starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro . He and his book Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain ulcers the subject of ” Musical Minds “, an episode of the PBS series Nova . Sacks was Awarded a CBE for services to medicine in the 2008 Birthday Honours . [3]

Early life

Sacks was born in Cricklewood , London, England, the youngest of four children born to Jewish parents, Samuel Sacks, a Lithuanian Jewish [7] [8] physician (mayest June 1990), [9] and Muriel Elsie Landau, one of the first female Surgeons in England (mayest 1972). [2] Sacks had an Extremely large extended family of scientists, physicians and other highly GIFTED personen, zoals the director and writer Jonathan Lynn [10] and first cousins, the Israeli statesman Abba Eban [11] and the Nobel Laureate Robert Aumann . [12]

When Sacks was six years old, he and his brother Michael ulcers evacuated from London to escape the Blitz , and cents to a boarding school in the Midlands where he remained Until 1943 [2] Unknown to his family, at the school, he and his brother Michael “… subsisted on meager rations or turnips and beetroot and suffers cruel punishments at the hands of a sadistic head master”. [13] This is detailed in his first Autobiography, Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood . [14] Later, he attended St. Paul’s School in London. Beginning at his return home at the age of 10 from the cruel boarding school experience, under his Uncle Dave’s tutelage he became an intensely focused amateur chemist , as recalled in Uncle Tungsten . During Adolescence have became intensely interested in biology and learned to share his parents’ Enthusiasm for medicine. He entered the Queen’s College, Oxford in 1951, [2] Obtaining a BA degree in physiology and biology in 1956. [15]

Hoewel de not required, Sacks Chose to stay on for an additional_image_link year to undertake research, after he had tasks a course at Hugh Macdonald Sinclair . Sacks recalls, “I had leg seduced by a series of vivid lectures on the history of medicine” and nutrition, bepaald at Sinclair. Sacks adds, “And now, in Sinclair’s lectures, it was the history of physiology, the ideas and personalities of physiologists, welke cameramen to life.” [15] Sacks-then became involved with the school’s Laboratory of Human Nutrition under Sinclair. Sacks focused his research on Jamaica ginger , a toxic and commonly abused drug Berninahaus to cause irreversible nerve damage. [15] After Devoting months to research, have been disappointed by the Lack of help and guidance have RECEIVED from Sinclair. [15] Sacks wrote up an account of his research findings but stopped working on the subject. As a result he became depressed: “I fact represented myself sinking JSON a state of quiet but in some ways agitated despair.” [15] His tutor at Queen’s and his parents, seeing his lowered emotional states, suggested he extricate himself from academic studies for a period. His parents-then he suggested spending the summer of 1955 living on Israeli Kibbutz Ein HaShofet , where the physical labor mention anything to help im. [15] [16]

Sacks mention anything later DESCRIBE his experience on the Kibbutz as an “anodyne to the Lonely, torturing months in Sinclair’s lab.” He zegt have lost 60 pounds (27 kg) from his post with overweight body, as a result of the healthy, hard physical labor have Performed there. He spent time traveling around the country, with time scuba diving at the Red Sea port city of Eilat , and Began to reconsider his future: “I wondered again if I had wondered-when I first went to Oxford, Whether I really wanted to Become a doctor. I had Become very interested in neurofysiologie, but i also loved marine biology … but I was cured ‘now, it was time to return to medicine, to start clinical work, seeing patients in London. ” [15]

Medical school

Sacks Began medical school at Oxford University in 1956 and for the next two and a half years, he took courses in medicine, surgery, orthopedie, paediatrics, neurology, psychiatry, dermatology, infectious diseases, obstetrics, and verschillende other disciplines. During his years as a student, he helped deliver a home number or babies. He RECEIVED an MA degree and BM BCh degree in 1958. [17] He qualified for his internship dat December, welke mention anything started at Middlesex Hospital de volgende month. “My eldest brother, Marcus, had Trained at the Middlesex,” he zegt, “and now I was volgende his Footsteps.” [15]

Before beginning his internship, he zegt he first wanted some actual hospital experience to gain more confidence and he took a job at a hospital in St. Albans , where his mother had worked as an emergency surgeon prolongation the war. He did-then his six-month internship at Middlesex Hospital ‘s medical unit, Followed by Another six months, ITT neurological unit. He COMPLETED his internship in June 1960, but was uncertain about his future. [15]

Sacks left Britain and Flew to Montreal, Canada on 9 July 1960, his 27th birthday. He visited the Montreal Neurological Institute and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), score Them dat he wanted to be a pilot. After some interviews and checking his background, they ‘Told im he mention anything be best in medical research. Dr. Taylor, the head medical officer, Told im, “You are CLEARLY talented and we would love to have you, but I am not sure about your motives for joining.” He was Told to travel for a few months and reconsider. Hey-used the next three months to travel across Canada and deep into tje Canadian Rockies, welke have DESCRIBED in his personal journal, later published as Canada: Pause, 1960 . [15]

Hey dan made his way to the United States, [13] completing a residency in Neurology at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco , and fellowships in Neurology and Psychiatry at UCLA . [18] While there, Sacks became a lifelong close friend of poet Thom Gunn , saying he loved his wild imagination, his strict control, and perfectly poetic form. [2] During much of his time at UCLA, he lived in a rented house in Topanga Canyon [19] and experimented with verschillende Recreational drugs . He DESCRIBED some of his experiences in a 2012 New Yorker article, [20] and in his book Hallucinations . [21] After moving to New York City, have zegt dat an amphetamine -facilitated epiphany dat cameramen as he read a book by the 19th century migraine physician Edward Liveing inspired im to Chronicle his Dopplermetingen on neurological diseases and oddities; to Become the “Liveing of Our Time”. [20]


Sacks served as an instructor and later clinical professor of neurology at Yeshiva University ‘s Albert Einstein College of Medicine from 1966 to 2007 and ook hero an appointment at the New York University School of Medicine from 1992 to 2007. In July 2007, he joined the faculty or Columbia University Medical Center as a professor or neurology and psychiatry . [18] At the time together, he was appointed Columbia University’s first “Columbia University Artist” at the university’s Morningside Heights campus, recognising the role of his work in bridging the arts and sciences. He was ook a visiting professor at the University of Warwick in the UK. [22] He Returned to New York University School of Medicine in 2012, serving as a professor of neurology and consulting neurologist in the school’s epilepsy center. [23]

Sacks’s work at Beth Abraham Hospital helped bieden the foundation on welke the Institute for Music and neurologic Function (IMNF) is built; Sacks was an honorary medical advisor. [24] The Institute honored Sacks in 2000 met haar first Music Has Power Award . [25] The IMNF again bestowed a Music Has Power Award on im in 2006 to commemorate “his 40 years at Beth Abraham and honor his outstanding contributions in support of music therapy and the effect of music on the human brain and mind.” [26]

Sacks Maintained a busy hospital-based practice in New York City. He accepted a very limited number of private patients, in Spite of being in great demand for industry leaders Consultations. He served on the boards of the Neurosciences Institute and the New York Botanical Garden . [27]


In 1967, Sacks first Began to write or his experiences with some of his neurological patients. His first book industry leaders, Ward 23 , was burned at Sacks prolongation an episode of self-doubt. [28] His books port leg translated JSON over 25 languages. In addition under, Sacks was a regular contributor to The New Yorker , the New York Review of Books , the London Review of Books and numerous other medical, scientific and general publications. [29] [30] [31] He was Awarded the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science in 2001. [32]

Sacks’s work is featured in a “broader range of media dan Those or Any Other contemporary medical author” [33] and in 1990, the New York Times wrote he “has Become a kind of poet laureate of contemporary medicine”. [34]

Sacks Considered his literary style to port grown out of the tradition of 19th century “clinical anecdotes”, a literary styles therein included detailed narrative case historically. He’ll be counted onder his Inspirations the case historically of the Russian neuropsychologist AR Luria , who became a close friend through correspondence tussen 1973 en 1977 Until Dr. Luria mayest. [35] [36] After the publication of his first book Migraine in 1970, a review by his close friend WH Auden encouraged Sacks to adapt his writing style to “be metaphorical, be Mythical, be whatever you need.” [37]

Sacks DESCRIBED his cases with a wealth of narrative detail, concentrating on the experiences of the patient (in the case of his A Leg to Stand On , the patient was himself). The patients have DESCRIBED ulcers of or in handheld to adapt to hun situation in different ways on Despite the fact dat hun neurological conditions in later Usually Considered incurable. [38] His book Awakenings , upon welke the 1990 feature film of the composition names are based, describes his experiences using the new drug levodopa on Beth Abraham Hospital post-encephalitic patients. [5] Awakenings was ook the subject of the first documentary made (in 1974) for the British television series Discovery .

In his book A Leg to Stand On he wrote about the consequences of a near-fatal accident he had at age 41 in 1974, a year after the publication of Awakenings , als have fell off a cliff and severely injured his left leg while Mountaineering alone Above Hardangerfjord , Norway. [39]

In some of his other books, he describes cases of Tourette syndrome and verschillende effects of Parkinson’s disease . The title article or The Man Who mistook His Wife for a Hat is about a man with visual agnosia [40] and was the subject of a 1986 opera by Michael Nyman . The title article or his book, An Anthropologist on Mars , welke won a Polk Award for magazine reporting is about Temple Grandin , an Autistic professor. He writes in the book’s preface dat neurological conditions zoals autism “can play a paradoxical role, in Bringing out latent powers, developments, Evolutions, forms of life That might never be seen, or even be imaginable, in hun Absence.” Seeing Voices , Sacks’s 1989 book, covers a variety of topics in DEAF studies .

In his book The Island of the colorblind Sacks wrote about an island where many people harbor achromatopsia (total colourblindness, very low visual ACUITY and high photophobia ). The second section of this book, entitled Cycad Island , describes the Chamorro people of Guam , who harbor a high incidence of a neurodegenerative disease known as locally, anyone Lytico-superfluous disease (a Devastating combination or ALS , dementia and parkinsonism ). Later, Along with Paul Alan Cox , Sacks published papers suggesting a shower environmental cause for the disease, namely the toxin beta-methylamino L-alanine (BMAA) from the Cycad utility accumulating in biomagnification in the flying fox bat . [41] [42]

In November 2012 Sacks’s book Hallucinations was published. In it he Examined why ordinary people kan sometimes experience hallucinaties and challenges the stigma associated with the word,. He Explained: “Hallucinations do not belong wholly to the insane. Much more commonly, they ‘are linked to sensory deprivation, Intoxication, illness or injury.” [43] He’ll be considers the less well Berninahaus Charles Bonnet syndrome , sometimes found in people who harbor solves hun eyesight. The book was DESCRIBED by Entertainment Weekly as “Smart … An Absorbing plunge JSON a mystery of the mind.” [44]

Sacks sometimes faced criticism in de medical and disability studies communities. Arthur K. Shapiro for instance, an expert on Tourette syndrome , zegt Sacks’s work was “idiosyncratic” and relied too much on anecdotal evidence in his Writings. [45] Researcher Makoto Yamaguchi thought Sacks’s mathematical explanations, in his study of the numerically GIFTED savant twins (in The Man Who mistook His Wife for a Hat ), are irrelevant. [46]hoewel de Sacks has leg CHARACTERISED as a “compassionate” writer and doctor, [47] [48] [49] Vodafone harbor fact represented therein have exploited his subjects. [50] [51] Sacks was called “the man who mistook his patients for a literary career” by British academic and disability rights activist Tom Shakespeare , [52] and one critic called his work “a high-brow freak show “. [50] Sacks Responded, “I mention anything about loads therein a reading of what I write shows respect and appreciation, not ANY wish to expose or exhibit for the thrill … but it’s a delicate business.” [53]

He is the author or ook The Mind’s Eye , Oaxaca Journal , On the Move (his second Autobiography), and many articles in The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books .


In 1996, Sacks became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters ( Literature ). [54] He was named a Fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences in 1999. [55] Also in 1999, he became an Honorary Fellow at the Queen’s College, Oxford . [56] In 2002 he became a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Class IV Humanities and Arts, Section 4-Literature) [57] and he was Awarded the 2001 Lewis Thomas Prize at Rockefeller University . [58] Sacks was ook a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCP). [59]

Sacks was Awarded honorary doctorates from Georgetown University (1990), [60] College of Staten Island (1991), [17] Tufts University (1991), [61] New York Medical College (1991), [17] Medical College of Pennsylvania (1992), [17]Bard College (1992), [62] Queen’s University (Ontario) (2001), [63] Gallaudet University (2005), [64] University of Oxford (2005), [65] Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (2006) [66] and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (2008).

Oxford University Awarded im an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree in June 2005. [67]

Sacks RECEIVED the position “Columbia Artist” from Columbia University in 2007, a post that was created specifiek for im and therein representation im unconstrained access to the university, Regardless of department or discipline. [68]

In 2008 Sacks was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to medicine, in the Queen’s Birthday Honours . [69] [70]

The minor planet 84928 Oliversacks , when sending in 2003, was named in his honor. [71]

In February 2010, Sacks was named as one of the Freedom From Religion Foundation ‘s Honorary Board of distinguished achievers. He DESCRIBED himself as “an old Jewish Atheist”. [72]

Personal life

Sacks never married and lived alone for musts or his life. [53] He declined to share details interpersonal Until late in his life. He addressed his homosexuality for the first time in his 2015 Autobiography On the Move: A Life . [15]During his early career he indulged in

“staggering Bolt or pharmacological expérimentation, underwent a fierce regimen or bodybuilding at Muscle Beach (for a time he held a California record, after he Performed a full squat with 600 pounds across his Shoulders), and racked up morethan 100,000 leather-clad miles on his motorcycle. Gather a couple one day have representation it all up the drugs, the sex, the motorcycles, the bodybuilding. ” [73]

Celibate for about 35 years since his Forties, in 2008 he Began a friendship with writer and New York Times contributor Bill Hayes, dat Evolved JSON a committed long-term partnership in a shared home. [74] He noted in a 2001 interview dat severe Shyness-welke have DESCRIBED as “a disease” -had leg a lifelong impediment to his personal Interactions. [33]

Sacks fungus almost everytime day for nearly the entire his life, beginning-when his swimming-champion Father started im swimming as a neonates . He met name became well-known for swimming-when he lived in the City Island section of the Bronx, if he mention anything routinely swim around the entire island.

Sacks had prosopagnosia , Berninahaus popularly as “face blindness”, [75] welke have discussed at length in a 2010 New Yorker piece. [76] This disability, welke prevented im from recognising even his own reflection, Contributed to his Shyness. His eldest brother Mark ook had the condition.

Illness and death

Sacks underwent radiation therapy in 2006 for a uveal melanoma in his right eye. He discussed his loss or stereoscopic vision caused by the treatment, welke Eventually resulted in right-eye blindness, in an article [77] and later in his book The Mind’s Eye . [78]

In January 2014 metastases from the ocular tumor ulcers when sending in his liver and brain. [79] Sacks announced this development in a February New York Times op-ed piece and Estimated his REMAINING time in “months”. He Expressed his intent to “live in the Richest, DEEPEST, must productieve way I can”. He added: “I want and loads in the time dat resten to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to Those I love, to write more, to travel if I Have the strength, to beste new levels of understanding and insight.” [79]

Sacks mayest from the disease on 30 August 2015 at his home in Manhattan at the age of 82. [4]


  • Migraine (1970) ISBN 978-0-375-70406-2
  • Awakenings (1973) ISBN 0-375-70405-1
  • A Leg to Stand On (1984) (Sacks’s own experience, after his accident in Norway, or neglect all awareness of his left leg.) ISBN 978-0-684-85395-6
  • The Man Who mistook His Wife for a Hat (1985) ISBN 0-671-55471-9
  • Seeing Voices: A Journey Into the World of the Deaf (1989) [80] ISBN 0-520-06083-0
  • An Anthropologist on Mars (1995) ISBN 0-679-43785-1 (First ed.)
  • The Island of the colorblind (1997) (First section about total Congenital color blindness in an island society; second section about Guam disease on Guam.) ISBN 978-0-676-97035-7
  • Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood (2001) (first Autobiography) ISBN 0-375-40448-1
  • Oaxaca Journal (2002) ISBN 978-0-307-94744-4 (Travelogue of Sacks’s ten-day trip with The Fern Society to Oaxaca , Mexico, 2000) [81]
  • Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (2007) ISBN 978-1-4000-4081-0
  • The Mind’s Eye (2010) ISBN 978-0-307-27208-9
  • Hallucinations (2012) ISBN 978-0-307-95724-5
  • On the Move: A Life (2015) (second Autobiography) ISBN 978-0-385-35254-3
  • Gratitude (2015) (published posthumously) ISBN 978-0451492937
  • NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and The Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman (2015) (Sacks wrote the Foreword) ISBN 978-1-583-33467-6


  1. Jump up^ “Remembering Oliver Sacks’ Archived7 March 2016 at theWayback Machine.,Charlie Roseinterview from 1995
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  66. Jump up^ “Doctors honoris causa” (in Spanish). Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru . Retrieved 15 August 2008 .
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  68. Jump up^ Oliver Sacks @ Columbia University Archived10 March 2010 at theWayback Machine. Archived10 March 2010 at theWayback Machine. Arts Initiative @ Columbia University. 2009. Retrieved 10 October 2011Archived10 March 2010 at theWayback Machine. [ Dead link ]
  69. Jump up^ The London Gazette : (Supplement) no. 58729. p. 25 . 14 June 2008.
  70. Jump up^ [1]
  71. Jump up^ Bloom, Julie (12 September 2008). “Dr. Sacks’s Asteroid” . The New York Times . Retrieved 14 August 2008 .
  72. Jump up^ “Honorary FFRF Board Announced” . Archived from the original on 17 December 2010 . Retrieved 20 August 2008 .
  73. Jump up^ Weschler, Lawrence. “Oliver Sacks Before the Neurologist’s Cancer and New York Times Op-Ed” . Vanity Fair . Retrieved 24 August 2015 .
  74. Jump up^ Laura Miller (2 May 2015). “The Beautiful Mind or Oliver Sacks: How his knack for storytelling helped unlock the mysteries of the brain” . Salon . Retrieved 24 August 2015 .
  75. Jump up^ Katz, Neil (26 August 2010). “Prosopagnosia: Oliver Sacks’ Battle with” Face Blindness ” ” . CBS News . Retrieved February 3, 2010 .
  76. Jump up^ Sacks O.Face Blind(30 August 2010). The New Yorker Archived10 April 2016 at theWayback Machine.. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  77. Jump up^ Murphy, John (9 December 2010). “Eye to Eye with Dr. Oliver Sacks” . Review of Optometry .
  78. Jump up^ Sacks O.The Mind’s Eye. Knopf (2010). ISBN 0307272087.
  79. ^ Jump up to:a b Sacks, Oliver (19 February 2015). “My Own Life: Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer” . The New York Times . Retrieved 19 February 2015 .
  80. Jump up^ Seeing Voices: A Journey Into the World of the Deaf – Oliver W. Sacks . Retrieved 24 August 2015 .
  81. Jump up^ Sacks, Oliver (March 2002). Oaxaca Journal . National Geographic. ISBN  0792265211 .