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Another accident


'The Lewis Thomas crisis'
Oliver Sacks Scientist
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Well, I have a number of colleagues, of fellow neurologists, who have started to have rather similar feelings, let's call it the Lewis Thomas crisis. Namely, they have written fine neurology papers which have been in the journals, but they want to write more expansively. They either want to write a popular neurology book or perhaps something... or essays. They want to write in a much more open and unbuttoned and personal way. And... I... this has partly defined my own position because I have not been attacked by that particular form of frustration, because my own writing has... has had the double quality from the start of being both scientific and... and personal, and at least as an attempt to bring the two of them together, which was something which Luria spent a lifetime trying to do, and which he felt allowed to do when he became older. He... he was in his late 60s when The Mind of an Mnemonist was published.

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: The Mind of a Mnemonist, Lewis Thomas, Alexander Romanovich Luria

Duration: 1 minute, 26 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2011

Date story went live: 02 October 2012