Oliver Sacks, Neurologist and writer, has died. Author of ‘The Man Who Mistook his Wife for A Hat’ and ‘An Anthropologist on Mars’, he was described by one rival as “a much better writer than a clinician”. In my view, his writings encouraged us to look anew at common challenges and issues. For a while, books such as ‘An Anthropologist on Mars’, provided a language and a way of thinking that allowed us to perceive, describe and understand things in a different way. That particular book also introduced many to Temple Grandin, another who has helped to challenge our thinking. Coincidentally, I was reminded again of how some books changed our thinking when speaking at a conference in Glasgow last month. Jayne Porter from the Autism Network Scotland shared her enthusiasm for the literature of Autism by quoting from Claire Sainsbury’s ‘A Martian in the Playground’. These book titles alone and the thinking behind them formed the basis of many interesting discussions in schools at the time.
Oliver Sacks’ obituary by Mark Smith in the Glasgow Herald told of how he received the Lewis Thomas Prize from Rockefeller University. The citation declared, ‘Sacks presses us to follow him into uncharted regions of human experience – and compels us to realise, once there, that we are confronting only ourselves.’
I am reminded again of Clarence Baker, from the great reggae band, Misty in Roots,
‘When we tread this land, we walk for one reason. The reason is to help another man to think for himself’.
Oliver Sacks did that. I’ll maybe go back to the book.
Buy his books here.