The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
The lesson learned in this specific case could be one of many things. The patient, Dr. P, teaches us that not everything has to be fixed, or can be fixed. He can go about his life normally as long as he sings or hums a song for the task at hand. For example, the patient’s wife explained that he has songs for everything, dressing, eating, and bathing. If he does not, he will not understand the task. He may not be able to identify objects or people with his eyes or mind but he can identify with sound, like a voice or song. Dr. P doesn’t really need to have a surgery or take medication because his “medicine” is music. Dr. P’s strange inability not judge his wife’s head as a head, but as a hat or a glove as a glove is as a result of a massive tumor or a degenerative process in the visual parts of his brain. One of the most unique aspect of Dr. P’s case is the progression of his art, it started off “ naturalistic and realistic” then started becoming “ less vivid, less concrete” to cubist styled (i.e. Pablo Picasso), and then even just lines and abstract (i.e. Jackson Pollack). In a way, it was like we could see into the patient’s mind as his condition degenerated.
The Lost Mariner
We learn from Jimmie that drinking, especially heavy drinking, really affects our bodies, especially later in our lives. His renegade amnesia was caused by Korsakov’s Syndrome which resulted from the patient’s heavy drinking after he left the navy. I found that his inability to recall the time he spent after 1945 very interesting, and that he could remember everything from his height of glory in the navy vividly, yet had difficulty remembering the doctor’s face after a few minutes of not seeing him. Also, what was interesting and unique is that he could vaguely remember the doctor by key facial features (e.g. his beard) but couldn’t place when he saw him or what his name was.
The Disembodied Lady
The author opens this chapter with a quote by Wittgenstein, “[the] aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity. (One is unable to notice something because it is always before one’s eyes.) The real foundations of his enquiry do not strike a man at all.” I believe this is the lesson we learn from this case. We aren’t able to notice something so simple before us, because we’ve accepted it and taken it for granted in our everyday lives. In Christina’s case, she lost her sense of body, the sense of herself in it. She was unable to control her limbs, her muscles, and her senses unless she used her eyes to focus on them. She suffered from severe sensory neuronopathies, said to be caused (in other cases) by taking enormous quantities of Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine. What I found unique and interesting about her case is that she dreamed of it before the symptoms showed. It is interesting o see that her mind warned her of what was going to happen, before it happened.
The Man Who…