Review: ‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat’ by Oliver Sacks

Psychology has always been a big interest of mine, but not to the extent that I want to study it academically. Within the category of psychology, I have constantly found unique and complex neurological conditions fascinating – and that’s where The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks comes in.

With the book’s structure involving Sacks’ meetings with some of his patients, the conditions covered in the book are diverse and interesting. At first, his writing style when describing his patients was very descriptive and it felt like I was reading a work of fiction.

However, whilst the high levels of description helped me to understand the neurological conditions to begin with, it then started to become quite heavy with specific terminology halfway through the book. For example, the term agnosia is mentioned repeatedly, but is only properly towards the end. Therefore, it may be a difficult read for someone who learns psychology for fun (like me).

Whilst I found I difficult to understand at parts, some stories were enjoyable. ‘The Twins’, for instance, details two brothers with autistic, savant-like abilities. Personally, I’ve always found autism and savant syndrome intriguing, so it was an interesting read.

Despite finding it hard to enjoy the book at times, I do have other books by Oliver Sacks – on the psychology of music and hallucinations – which I am very much looking forward to reading.

On the whole, it’s an intriguing book, but may be of more interest to a psychology student than a hobbyist.

Rating: 3 out of 5



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