Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Awakenings by Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks
1973, 1990, Pan Macmillan, London

Oliver Sacks is a doctor who treated a group of patients with post-encephalitic Parkinsonism following the sleepy sickness epidemic of the 1920s. The patients were treated with the drug L-DOPA and gained remarkable results in which they "awoke" after being nearly motionless and statue-like for half a decade.

This is a terrifying book - I'm surprised I didn't have nightmares. The human body can give so much grief, and the drugs we give to counteract it are just as bad. I liked that Sacks did not gloss over what he did; if the patients had horror reactions to his treatment (and all did), he gave the full details. I must admit some of his philosophical musings at the end of the book were a little over my head and if I gave this book to someone to read I would show them the glossary in the back before they start!

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