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Working on Ward 23 with autistic, psychotic and retarded patients


My dream: The Tourette’s Syndrome Society
Oliver Sacks Scientist
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An intense new interest had come to me after seeing Ray. And I thought there must be other... many other people like this, and perhaps they would all recognise each other as brothers and sisters in pathology, and form a sort of fraternal association or sort of Tourette’s syndrome association. This was a fantasy of mine. In 1974, I found that my fantasy had become a reality, and I was invited to one of the early meetings of the Tourette’s Syndrome Society in New York. I then had the opportunity of meeting other people with Tourette’s, and in September of '74 I... I spoke with the then president of the Tourette’s Syndrome Society saying I would like to write a book on Tourette’s. And he said he would gladly send me as many patients as I would like to see, if this was agreeable with them. But I will continue that thread later or maybe I should continue it now, because... by the pricking of my thumbs something evil this way comes.

Oliver Sacks (1933-2015) was born in England. Having obtained his medical degree at Oxford University, he moved to the USA. There he worked as a consultant neurologist at Beth Abraham Hospital where in 1966, he encountered a group of survivors of the global sleepy sickness of 1916-1927. Sacks treated these patients with the then-experimental drug L-Dopa producing astounding results which he described in his book Awakenings. Further cases of neurological disorders were described by Sacks with exceptional sympathy in another major book entitled The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat which became an instant best seller on its publication in 1985. His other books drew on his rich experiences as a neurologist gleaned over almost five decades of professional practice. Sacks's work was recognized by prestigious institutions which awarded him numerous honours and prizes. These included the Lewis Thomas Prize given by Rockefeller University, which recognizes the scientist as poet. He was an honorary fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and held honorary degrees from many universities, including Oxford, the Karolinska Institute, Georgetown, Bard, Gallaudet, Tufts, and the Catholic University of Peru.

Listeners: Kate Edgar

Kate Edgar, previously Managing Editor at the Summit Books division of Simon and Schuster, began working with Oliver Sacks in 1983. She has served as editor and researcher on all of his books, and has been closely involved with various films and adaptations based on his work. As friend, assistant, and collaborator, she has accompanied Dr Sacks on many adventures around the world, clinical and otherwise.

Tags: Tourette’s Syndrome Society, Witty Ticcy Ray

Duration: 1 minute, 25 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2011

Date story went live: 02 October 2012