FAQs

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Q: What book is Dr. Sacks working on now?

He’s just published Hallucinations, about hallucinations caused by all sorts of conditions, including migraine, epilepsy, parkinson’s, near-sleep states, and blindness. We’ll have more on that in upcoming monthly newsletters. (Are you signed up for our free newsletter?)  Have you seen his 2009 TED talk?  Now he will turn to some short autobiographical essays, as well as some longer ones about topics including memory, color, time, and consciousness.

Q: What is Dr. Sacks’s favorite music?

Here is an article about his iPod list, from Wired.

Q: What is the best kind of music for people with neurological problems?

There is no one type of music that works best for every brain–much depends on an individual’s experiences and preferences.  But for people with movement disorders, like Parkinson’s disease or Tourette’s syndrome, rhythm is crucial. For people with dementia, on the other hand, the most important factor is familiarity. Hence most music therapists have a repertoire of songs from the past which they can draw upon to engage their (usually elderly) patients. Music can also often help people with aphasia, who have lost the ability to speak.  Whenever I meet an aphasic patient, I start to sing “Happy Birthday,” whether it is their birthday or not.  Even when they cannot speak, many aphasic people can sing, and “Happy Birthday” is a song which everyone knows.

Q: How can I find out more about music therapy?

A good starting place is the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function website, or Dr. Sacks’s book Musicophilia.

Q: What happened to the patients and other characters in the AWAKENINGS movie?

The movie AWAKENINGS is a fictionalized drama based on Dr. Sacks’ true account of events that happened in the late 1960s. There is no Dr. Sayer, but that character is based on Dr. Sacks, who is still practicing medicine and writing books & articles. There is no Nurse Eleanor. The patient “Leonard” died, as have all the AWAKENINGS patients–but many lived long and many continued to be helped by the medicine L-dopa. Their real story is told in the book AWAKENINGS.

Q: How can I see the Awakenings documentary?

Unfortunately, the “Awakenings” documentary is not available on home video. Currently, we are negotiating rights issues and hope to be able to make the film available in the near future. More information here.

Q: I am a student. How can I study with Dr. Sacks? Would he be my thesis advisor?

Sorry, no. Though he appreciates your interest, Dr. Sacks is not able to take on any students, observers or volunteers. He cannot advise or comment on projects or dissertations.

Q: I am writing a paper on AWAKENINGS. Where can I find information?

There is an excellent bibliography in the Appendix of Dr. Sacks’s book AWAKENINGS.

Do you have another FAQ you’d like to see here? Let us know! Send your question to mail@oliversacks.com

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