Sacks, Oliver Wolf

Sacks, Oliver Wolf
▪ 1996

      Consciousness and brain function have been examined through the lens of many disciplines, including philosophy, biology, psychology, and artificial intelligence. One of the most insightful approaches, however, was that of neurologist Oliver Sacks, who crafted artistic case histories of neurologically damaged persons that illuminated the existential as well as pathological condition of the patient. An empathetic, humane approach to treating persons afflicted with some of the most macabre neurological conditions known was the hallmark of Sacks's writings. In his sixth book, An Anthropologist on Mars (1995), Sacks continued to relate the stories of his patients, as he had done in such earlier works as The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (1986).

      That patients must be listened to and the accounts of their illnesses respected was one of Sacks' most ardently held tenets. His own experience as a patient only strengthened that concern. Having injured a leg in a mountaineering accident, Sacks learned firsthand how a physician's dismissal of a patient's condition could hinder recuperation, a saga he recounted in A Leg to Stand On (1984).

      Sacks was born July 9, 1933, in London. His choice of careers was not surprising, given that both his parents were general practitioners trained as neurologists. His three older brothers also pursued medical careers. Sacks received a B.A. in physiology from Queen's College, Oxford, in 1954 and continued at the college for several other degrees. On completing his M.D. in 1960 at Middlesex Hospital, Sacks left England for the U.S. to study neurology at the University of California, Los Angeles. While in California he won a state championship in weight lifting and rode briefly with the motorcycle group Hell's Angels.

      In 1965 Sacks left the West Coast to become an instructor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx borough of New York City, where he remained, eventually becoming clinical professor of neurology. A year later he also joined Beth Abraham Hospital, a charity institution in the Bronx, as a staff neurologist. There he met a group of patients who had contracted a sleeping sickness, encephalitis lethargica, during an epidemic that broke out between 1917 and 1927. The patients had survived only to develop a type of parkinsonism that caused varying degrees of immobility, speechlessness, and depression. Sacks recounted the brief cure that the patients experienced after receiving the drug L-dopa and the drug's subsequent side effects in his 1973 book Awakenings, which was made into a motion picture in 1990.

      Sacks was a somewhat shy, self-effacing man who lived alone in a red house in the Bronx. He was an avid swimmer and had a passion for ferns and invertebrate animals. A self-proclaimed eccentric, Sacks believed that his unconventional nature helped him to identify with his patients, whose symptoms placed them outside the norm as well. (MARY JANE FRIEDRICH)

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Sacks, Oliver (Wolf) — born July 9, 1933, London, Eng. British U.S. neurologist and writer. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1960 to study neurology at the University of California, and in 1965 he joined the faculty at New York s Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Many… …   Universalium

  • Sacks, Oliver (Wolf) — (9 jul. 1933, Londres, Inglaterra). Neurólogo y escritor británico radicado en EE.UU. En 1960 emigró a EE.UU. para estudiar neurología en la Universidad de California, y en 1965 se incorporó al cuerpo docente de la Albert Einstein College of… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Oliver — Oliver, Joan Oliver, Joe Oliver, Miguel de los Santos * * * (as used in expressions) Cromwell, Oliver Davis, Benjamin O(liver), Jr. Ellsworth, Oliver Evans, Oliver Goldsmith …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Wolf — Wolf, Charles Wolf, Christa Wolf, Friedrich August Wolf, Johannes Wolf, Max Wolf, Rudolf * * * (as used in expressions) Sacks, Oliver (Wolf) Wolf, Christa Wolf, Hugo (Filipp Jakob) …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • wolf — wolflike, adj. /woolf/, n., pl. wolves /woolvz/, v. n. 1. any of several large carnivorous mammals of the genus Canis, of the dog family Canidae, esp. C. lupus, usually hunting in packs, formerly common throughout the Northern Hemisphere but now… …   Universalium

  • Wolf — /vawlf/, n. 1. Baron Christian von. See Wolff, Baron Christian von. 2. Friedrich August /frddee drddikh ow goost/, 1759 1824, German classical scholar. 3. Hugo /hooh goh/, 1860 1903, Austrian composer. 4. a male given name. * * * I Any of three… …   Universalium

  • Oliver — /ol euh veuhr/, n. 1. one of the 12 paladins of Charlemagne. Cf. Roland. 2. Joseph ( King ), 1885? 1938, U.S. cornet player, bandleader, and composer: pioneer in jazz. 3. a male given name. * * * (as used in expressions) Cromwell Oliver Davis… …   Universalium

  • Oliver Sacks — Sacks at the 2009 Brooklyn Book Festival. Born 9 July 1933 (1933 07 09) (age 78) London, England …   Wikipedia

  • Oliver Sacks — en 2005. Oliver Wolf Sacks (9 de julio de 1933, Londres) es un neurólogo inglés que ha escrito importantes libros sobre sus pacientes, seguidor de la tradición, propia del siglo XIX, de las «anécdotas clínicas» (historias de casos clínicos… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Oliver Sacks — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Sacks. Traduction à relire …   Wikipédia en Français

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