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'The longest running psychoanalysis on record'


Kate Edgar
Oliver Sacks Scientist
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Prior to Kate’s arrival on the scene in '84, I did everything myself. Migraine and Awakenings and the greater part of the Leg book had been written when Kate came on the scene, and at first Kate worked part-time with me, and then full-time. Now, what does she do? Well I want to say what didn’t she do; she became a real collaborator. When I visited the deaf, we did sign immersion courses together, and... so Kate was one of the people I dedicated Seeing Voices to. I... I can’t quite imagine how I would go on without Kate, and… but then I don’t have to imagine it. I... no doubt she will outlive me and… but it’s a... it's been a very curious and intimate sort of relationship in which friendship, editing and collaboration have... have all blended together. Kate was very close to Ralph and Kate knows all the people I know, and she’s also... she's also able to recognise people, which I can’t do, because I have congenital face blindness and I’m absentminded and now I can’t hear either, I’m really rather helpless in social situations, and sort of, Kate will... will guide me through them. But it’s been a... a very good, fertile relationship and it’s… and I think it gets stronger all the while, and I think I’m going to dedicate the present book to her.

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: Migraine, Awakenings, A Leg to Stand On, Seeing Voices, Kate Edgar, Ralph Siegel

Duration: 2 minutes, 15 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2011

Date story went live: 02 October 2012