“Superb . . . Dr. Sacks tells the story of an extraordinary experience . . . that brought him not merely near death but in an intimate tango with it danced to the sound of life itself.”

— Brain Pickings

A Leg to Stand On

“Here the roles were reversed and I was the patient myself, bewildered by an experience, a sort of “alienation” of an injured leg, which I could not comprehend or communicate to my doctors. My only relief was to write about it.”  — Oliver Sacks

In A Leg To Stand On, it is Dr. Sacks himself who is the patient: an encounter with a bull on a desolate mountain in Norway has left him with a severely damaged leg. But what should be a routine recuperation is actually the beginning of a strange medical journey, when he finds that his leg uncannily no longer feels a part of his body. Sacks’s description of his crisis and eventual recovery is not only an illuminating examination of the experience of patienthood and the inner nature of illness and health, but also a fascinating exploration of the physical basis of identity.

Oliver Sacks A Leg To Stand On

📷 Oliver Sacks recovering in hospital after his accident.

Praise for A Leg To Stand On

“In calling for a neurology of the soul and a deeper more humane medicine, Sacks’ remarkable book raises issues of profound importance for everyone interested in humane health care and the human application of science.” — Vic Sussman, The Washington Post Book World

“Losing the use of a limb is a catastrophe, and it needed a thoughtful essay written about it. This is it. It is more than that. Oliver Sacks is a neurologist of wide lay reading, a man of humane eloquence, a genuine communicator aware of the damnable rift that subsists between doctor and patient. Its value lies in its willingness to combine the technical and the demotic, to admit poetry and philosophy and the religious impulse. It is also intensely personal, but it affirms the community of human experience.” — Anthony Burgess, The Observer

“In this extraordinary book, Sacks chronicles his own journey from traumatic injury to health. By so doing, he built a bridge of understanding between himself and his patients that became the foundation of what he called ‘a new and deeper medicine.’” — Steve Silberman

“A neurologist in [the] great tradition…. Sacks has written a book about a leg, his leg; but it is a story about the nature of selfhood–a narrative comparable to Conrad’s The Secret Sharer.” — Jerome Bruner, The New York Review of Books

“Dr. Sacks, although he is a professional neurologist, sees his injury as a violation not so much of the nervous system as of the Self. The word alienation itself, so loosely slung around in recent decades, takes on a new precision as Dr. Sacks reviews his predicament in exact clinical, emotional and philosophical terms. No one has described that famous condition so well before. A remarkable, generous, vivid and thoroughly intelligent piece of writing.” — Jonathan Raban, The Sunday Times 

“It is in every way a marvellously rich and thoughtful tale. Dr. Sacks has once again emphatically shown how much there is still to be learned from painstakingly observed and chronicled case history. Long after much of what doctors currently regard as essential and relevant to their practice has been forgotten or consigned to the bin, this book will continue to be a rich source of understanding of what it is like to be ill, perplexed and in the dispassionate if caring hands of the nursing and medical professionals.” — Sunday Telegraph