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'Perhaps it's more important to love than be loved'


Loving and being 'in love'
Oliver Sacks Scientist
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Loving is very different from being in love, which is an erotic fever or passion which can seize hold of one, but can’t last. Being in love is transient, but love can be lifelong, and you certainly see this in... in people who have been married for 70 years, but also love of one’s friends, of one’s sibling, and at some level one has to love oneself, even though one may accuse oneself of all sorts of things. I… though I can’t help wondering whether some very disturbed and depressed people are... are deficient in self-love. You have to be able to love. The ability to love is somewhat compromised in autism, and I remember with… when I made a film some years ago with Jessie Park, a young autistic artist, I remember saying to her father and to her mother, I said, 'You love her very much, does she love you in return?' And they said, 'She loves us as much as she can'. I liked that answer.

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: Jessie Park

Duration: 1 minute, 26 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2011

Date story went live: 02 October 2012