Friday, December 21, 2012


By Oliver Sacks
Alfred A. Knopf, 2012. 326 pgs. Nonfiction

Dr. Oliver Sacks has spent his career studying bizarre cases that illustrate the mysterious and unpredictable nature of the human brain. His past books, including "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales" and "The Mind's Eye," have informed and entertained readers regarding his fascinating experiences and discoveries. In "Hallucinations," Sacks provides a detailed look at the science of seeing, hearing and feeling what isn't actually there.

While it is certainly all fascinating, the most interesting portion to me was the one discussing hallucinations experienced by those using recreational drugs. Dr. Sacks himself spent a number of years experimenting with and growing addicted to some of these substances. This very personal insight is both fascinating and terrifying. "Hallucinations" should probably be avoided by any readers prone to hypochondria. More than once I thought I glanced things out of the corner of my eye as such phenomena were described and explained. It was almost as bad as reading a well-written ghost story at times, but instead of a vengeful spirit, my own mind seemed to be haunting the periphery of my vision. An entertaining, thrilling and intriguing medical survey.


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