Oliver Sacks first entered my life as the author of ”The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,” when in 1986 I was commissioned to translate that noted book into Swedish. It was a privilege to work with such an insightful, compassionate and deeply humane text. Since I knew next to nothing about neurology, I enlisted a prominent local neurologist to help me out with the tricks of the trade. When the book was published in Swedish, it made a lasting impact, attracting readers from every walk of life, and I know it was also used as a course book at medical schools, and probably still is. To date, it exists in six editions in Swedish, the latest one – a paperback – printed in 2007.
The characters or, rather, persons in ”The Man Who Mistook...” have accompanied me ever since, especially Jimmie G., the sailor marooned on the desert island of Time. If all our fates are strange, then some fates are stranger still.
Thank you, Oliver Sacks, for many a keen thought on the human condition. Your work is done, your oeuvre lives on.
I have always found Dr Sacks' books fascinating and completely respectful towards the people about whom he was writing: shame on the judgemental illiterates who accused him of "exploiting" his patients. He did far more than any of his pusillanimous detractors to promote understanding and sympathy for people with neurological challenges.
I also found it very reassuring that such a brilliant and compassionate man had, like myself, the rare inability to visualize images.
Thank you, Dr Sacks.
While I knew that Dr. Sacks' death was approaching, I dreaded this news, and I am deeply sorrowful. His case studies have inspired me, and they have helped me to become more a more compassionate person. From his books, I've learned a great deal about what it means to be human. And now he has taught me how to face my own death when the time comes. There are some people who are indispensable. Dr. Sacks is one of these. There is no one else like him. I don't have confidence that there is anything beyond death, except for the ripples we have made by our actions in life. He certainly made great ripples!
I am a neurologist trained at Einstein and heard him lecture to us in the late 70's while he was still at Beth Abraham in the Bronx. he was a very inspiring figure--even back then.
I was very saddened to learn of the death of Oliver Sacks. Musicophilia is one of my favourite books, and I am now looking forward to reading On The Move.
Our world was blessed to have had such a compassionate, wise and insightful soul who had a rare gift for humanising medicine.
RIP Dr. Sacks.
Almost 2 years ago I woke up middle of the night throwing up and could tell I was quickly loosing brain function. Before that I had read several of Oliver Sacks books. Had I not read his books, I could not have had the wherewithal to navigate what I called my Chihuahua brain that did not like lines nor narrow spaces, the migraines, months of hallucinations, times it froze my legs, the sound and visual sensitivity, nausea, balance issues and exhaustion. I was able to stand aside and tell myself that I was not going crazy, that this quite likely might be temporary, and as much as I could, enjoy the circus of my brain. I continually adapted and figured out how to move forward.
I am not yet totally well, but yesterday I managed to drive and not feel like I was in a video game. The world looked "normal" and I navigated it. As I was doing that, I was thinking about him and feeling grateful for what he gave to me; I did not know at that moment that he had passed away. I wish I could thank him for the patience and hope that he has given me. My condolences to his family and friends. It is a great loss.
The book and movie Awakenings gives me the stamina to do research in encephalopathy and neurology coupled with brain chemistry.
Goodbye to a giant in medicine.
I am so saddened by the loss of my friend and colleague who, while I was Dean at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, took the time to sit with me at the Bronx Botanical Gardens and convince me to keep the person in the Patient.
I am giving a talk on Non-Traditional Healing Backed by Science and Conducted by Multidisciplinary Teams at an upcoming presentation at the Hawaiian Psychological Association and will dedicate it to Dr. Oliver Sacks...
Oliver, you taught us all to think about the people we were treating rather than the disease that befalls them. Your loss is a public tragedy. My love to your family and friends at this sad moment.
Oliver Sacks changed my life forever.
I just wanted to thank him for being always an inspiration in so many ways. I always admired him and his work so much.
Thank you, Dr. Sacks, for sharing your amazing work, and for helping us to think beyond!
We will miss you!
The Man Who Mistook His Wife was my introduction to your brilliant mind and compassionate nature and since then I have read many of your books, articles and essays, including your memoir On The Move.
There will never be another quite like you. Respectfully and with great admiration,
I heard of Dr. Sacks's death and was saddened. Even though I have not read his books (shame on me), I have certainly heard of most of them and have seen the movie "Awakenings." Today I listened to a past interview with Dr. Sacks on NPR's "Fresh Air." What a brilliant and beautiful person. I wish I could have known him. My sympathy goes out to his loved ones.
As a teacher, teacher educator, and researcher in teaching and learning, I am so grateful for what this gentle man has taught me about what it means to be human, about the power of story, and about how understanding a disease (the work of doctors) or how a person learns (the work of a teacher) is about understanding them and their stories much more than it is about tests or measures. I will read him again and again, and am so grateful for the writing he has yet to share with us.
Dear Dr. Sacks,
I have Tourette Syndrome. It was only after reading your marvelous essays on the disorder did I fully begin to understand myself and learn how to live with it. You are one of those magical people whose life lit up the intellectual sky. Every time I saw you on TV or an article by you I smiled. My deepest gratitude to you for your compassionate understanding of the human condition and for bearing witness. God bless you, Dr. Sacks. The world is a sadder place without you.
Good Night Dr. Sacks,
You life was a wonderful example of how to live well. Your gift continues as your thoughts, writings, and video carry your vision to the living.
The hardest parts of your life, shared, help me through difficult parts of mine.
Thank You Dr. Sacks, you are missed.
With great sorrow we mourn the loss of such a giant.. A scientific giant, a poetic giant, a magical speaker.. A brilliant mind and soul. We celebrate his life and will read and share his work that will live on long after he's gone...
I was so sorry to hear of the death of Oliver Sacks. I have always enjoyed his writings and appreciate how accessible they are, mainly as I think it has encouraged us all to be less prejudiced and narrow-minded. I feel very ashamed that our societies were so cruel to homosexuals and I am so glad he found true love before he died. Oliver did not know me but, not only do I feel I knew him, I also felt a love that will long outlast his breath. Rest assured I will make sure he continues to live through my children and my students, many of whom have physical and learning disabilities.
You were truly an inspiration for many. You will be missed.
I learned about Dr. Sacks in graduate school in 2011. I'm bummed I didn't learn about his work earlier. Ever since, I've been collecting his books, what an incredibly amazing person and great role model!
"The brain is the most intricate mechanism in the universe...I couldn't imagine spending my life with kidneys." ~ Oliver Sacks
So terribly sorry to hear of your passing. I've enjoyed your stories and interviews on the many Public Radio shows over the years. This is a terrible loss to medicine and a terrible loss for humanity. May whatever this next adventure brings be amazing! My thoughts are prayers are with your family and loved ones.
Sadly, I write this too late for Dr. Sacks to read, but perhaps in our strange universe the words will reverberate where they belong. I was first touched by Dr. Sack’s work when I saw Awakenings as a child. Even then I was moved by a man’s ability to bring life to others.
Later, it seems, Dr. Sacks brought some of that life to me. In a world without many role models, Dr. Sacks stands out as a person who moved beyond the constraints of culture and expectations and found the joy that lives only in the actualization of the self. This courage, his gentle reflections, and honest inquiry are rare and powerful gifts. Thank you Dr. Sacks for sharing yourself so gently and beautifully with the world.