Hallucinations

From the bestselling author of Musicophilia and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

Oliver Sacks

Have you ever seen something that wasn’t really there? Heard someone call your name in an empty house? Sensed someone following you and turned around to find nothing?

Hallucinations don’t belong wholly to the insane. Much more commonly, they are linked to sensory deprivation, intoxication, illness, or injury. People with migraines may see shimmering arcs of light or tiny, Lilliputian figures. People with failing eyesight, paradoxically, may become immersed in a hallucinatory visual world. Hallucinations can be brought on by a simple fever or even the act of waking or falling asleep, when people have visions ranging from luminous blobs of colour to beautifully detailed faces or terrifying ogres. Those who are bereaved may receive comforting ‘visits’ from the departed. In some conditions, hallucinations can lead to religious epiphanies or even the feeling of leaving one’s own body.

Humans have always sought such life-changing visions, and for thousands of years have used hallucinogenic compounds to achieve them. As a young doctor in California in the 1960s, Oliver Sacks had both a personal and a professional interest in psychedelics. These, along with his early migraine experiences, launched a lifelong investigation into the varieties of hallucinatory experience.

Here, with his usual elegance, curiosity, and compassion, Dr Sacks weaves together stories of his patients and of his own mind-altering experiences to illuminate what hallucinations tell us about the organization and structure of our brains, how they have influenced every culture’s folklore and art, and why the potential for hallucination is present in us all, a vital part of the human condition.

Genre: Non-Fiction
Hardback : 336 pages
ISBN: 978144720825901
Published: 08/11/2012

Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks was born in London in 1933, into a family of physicians and scientists. He received his medical education at Oxford and trained at Mt Zion Hospital in San Francisco and at UCLA. Since 1965, he has lived in New York City, where he is a professor of neurology at the NYU School of Medicine and consultant neurologist to the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Dr Sacks is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books and the New Yorker, as well as various medical journals. He is the author of eleven books, including Musicophilia, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and Awakenings (which inspired the Oscar-nominated film).

For more information on Dr. Sacks’s work, please visit www.oliversacks.com.

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