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Jerome Bruner: one of many implicit mentors


Jerome Bruner's expansive mind
Oliver Sacks Scientist
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Jerry has one of the most spacious, thoughtful minds I’ve ever encountered. I wouldn’t use the word polymath of him. I don’t very much like the word polymath – it somehow suggests a... a pecking thing. But there is a vast, vast base of knowledge of every sort which is... which is integrated and balanced in that great mind of his. The... until very recently he published a book every year, or... or every two years. One feared for him when he lost his wife about five or six years ago, who died in a... a surgical accident which should never have happened. It’s not so easy to lose a partner when one is in one’s late 80s, but Jerry seemed... seemed to… I think we, Kate, we went and visited him at that time and we went to a restaurant together. I think I was very struck then by how everyone on the block knew him.

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: Jerome Bruner

Duration: 1 minute, 23 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2011

Date story went live: 02 October 2012