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. 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.
In this book, 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 organisation 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.
About the Author
Oliver Sacks is a physician and the author of many books, including The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Awakenings (which inspired the Oscar-nominated film) and Musicophilia. Born in London and educated at Oxford, he now lives in New York City, where he is Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at Columbia University. He is the first, and only, Columbia University Artist, and is also a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. In 2008, he was appointed Commander of the British Empire.
'Oliver Sacks is a neurologist, a man of humane eloquence, and a genuine communicator' - Observer
'Sacks writes, basically, adventure stories, accounts of voyages into the unexplained territory of the brain. In doing so, he reveals a landscape far more complex and strange than anything we could infer from our daily interactions' - Sunday Times
'Sacks is above all a clinician, and writes with compassion and clarity ... The result is a sort of humane discourse on the fragility of our minds, of the bodies that give rise to them, and of the world they create for us' - Daily Telegraph
'In measured prose with a blessed lack of jargon, Sacks explores the ingenuity with which individuals cope with bizarre neurological conditions ... humane, empathic, he is the doctor you would want' - Independent
'Oliver Sacks has become the world's best-known neurologist. His case studies of broken minds offer brilliant insight into the mysteries of consciousness' Guardian 'Sacks is at his most engaging when he brings the ostensibly strange into the realm of normality ... This is where Sacks triumphs. Not just in the clarity with which he teaches us about the obscure phenomology of the human brain, but in the light his writings casts on even our most ordinary experiences.' - Daily Telegraph
'The king of pop-neurology reveals how almost all of us have hallucinations' GQ 'It's a feat to bring any specialty in medicine vividly to life, and to do so without relinquishing the sensitivity and empathy that characterise the best doctors is something that few achieve. Oliver Sacks has managed it throughout his career ... Affable, affectionate, respectful and smart, Sacks could be the David Attenborough of the human mind.' - Independent on Sunday
'An enthralling, often guiltily comic insight into the pecularities the brain can conjure.' - Irish Examiner
'Oliver Sacks is a graceful, lucid and elegant prose stylist. Though perhaps above all, he is the witty, warm, humble and deeply compassionate explorer of how our brains influence our world ... fascinating.' Lady 'Hallucinations is an absorbing study of an exotic subject ... Hallucinatory literature is either transgressive or presented as a search for enlightenment. This new volume sits elegantly between the two extremes and is more rewarding than either - a continuing investigation into what makes us human.' - Literary Review