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Isaacson's artwork appears in colour in The New York Review of Books


Norman Geschwind and Orrin Devinsky
Oliver Sacks Scientist
Comments (1) Please sign in or register to add comments
Friday, 08 March 2019 01:20 AM
Oliver Sachs would be ashamed to be associated with Orrin Devinsky!

So Bob Silvers published The Lost Mariner, as it was called, in... in '84, and among others this elicited a letter from Norman Geschwind , who was the most prominent neurologist and the most original and creative neurologist, probably, in America.  It was a wonderful letter and I wrote... I was very excited at hearing from him, I thought, here’s another Luria-like figure coming into my life.  And I wrote back, but there was no reply because Geschwind had had a... had had a stroke, a catastrophic... stroke and died.  He was quite young and this was a great tragedy, a personal loss to everyone who knew him and to all his students.

His students revered him and my closest friend now in neurology, Orrin Devinsky, is himself, to some extent, a Norman Geschwind-like figure, but he has done everything he can to find lecture notes and everything and to bring Geschwindiana of all sort to the... to neurologists.

[Q] Was he a student of Geschwind?

Oh, yes... yes, Orrin was indeed a student of Geschwind. And... the... in his autobiography Luria speaks about the Vygotsky... Lev Vygotsky who was...well, Vygotsky has sometimes been called the Mozart of psychology, and the... Luria said that meeting a genius like Vygotsky shaped his life; and, I think, Orrin would say the same or Geschwind.  I wish I had met a genius of that sort when I was young and impressionable, but, at least, I’m very glad that I... at least in letters that I met Luria when I was 40, and then Edelman when I was 54, because I think I’m still impressionable.

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 Lost Mariner, Norman Geschwind, Orrin Devinsky, Alexander Romanovich Luria, Lev Vygotsky

Duration: 2 minutes, 31 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2011

Date story went live: 02 October 2012