A revised and expanded edition of an account of a group of 20 patients who survived the sleeping sickness epidemic of the 1920s, and the awakening effect they experienced forty years later through the drug L-DOPA, which was administered by Dr Sacks himself. First published in 1973.
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It hardly seems fair that so many great doctors are also great writers. Perhaps it's qualities like sensitivity, craft and dedication that keep physicians like Oliver Sacks in hospitals all day and at writing desks all night; if nothing else, these qualities shine in books like Awakenings. This powerful set of case histories rises above its pathological foundation to find new literary territory, a medical-spiritual synthesis equally stimulating for the mind and the soul. It's no wonder Hollywood chose to turn it into a feature film--anyone can see the universal human struggle against bondage and despair in these pages.
The sleeping-sickness epidemic of 1918 caused hundreds of survivors to slip into a bizarre rigid paralysis with similarities to advanced Parkinson's disease. These patients, only occasionally able to communicate or move, were nearly all institutionalised for life, their ranks increasing every now and then with similarly afflicted men and women. Sacks came to work at a long-term care facility shortly before the first exciting results with L-DOPA and Parkinson's in the late 1960s and his patients soon embarked on dramatic, difficult recoveries from up to 50 years of torpor. He documents their spiritual and medical obstacles with great care to portray their individual personalities, long suppressed but finally released. Though many great doctors are also great writers, few can compare with Oliver Sacks for expressing the relation of medicine to the human spirit. --Rob LightnerReview:
"One of the most beautifully composed and moving works of our time." --"The Washington Post ""Compulsively readable. . . . Dr. Sacks writes beautifully and with exceptional subtlety and penetration into both the state of mind of his patients and the nature of illness generally. . . . A brilliant and humane book." --A. Alvarez, "The Observer" "[Sacks] opens to the reader doors of perception generally passed through only by those at the far borders of human experience." --"The Boston Globe ""A masterpiece." --W. H. Auden
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