Oliver Sacks, the Neurologist With The Soul of a Humanist, Passed Away

Oliver Sacks, a famous neurologist and renowned author of books such as “the man who mistook his wife for a hat” or “Awakenings”, died, August 30, 2015, at the age of 82. Sacks had already announced in February of 2015 that he was in the terminal stage and had only a few months to live. The world thus loses one of the best scientific disseminators.

A Death Announced But Equally Mourned Among The Entire Scientific Community

Sacks leaves us a legacy of inestimable quality in the form of popular literature about the functioning of the organs to which we owe the possibility of thinking, seeing, and feeling. His dissertations about what he was investigating are almost indistinguishable from the parts in which he narrates experiences and reflections in situ.

It is reflected in his way of writing as direct and accessible to all audiences, not exempt from philosophical issues that are sketched so that the reader who tries to answer them. But the quality of Oliver Sacks goes far beyond his knowledge about neurology and his ease of speech to easily communicate ideas and concepts as fascinating as complicated, or his way of posing intellectual challenges to motivate the reader and make him want to know more.

The vocation for the study of the human being is not the only thing that is reflected in his writings. He also does it in a more veiled but equally manifest way, as a humanist that moved him to love and appreciate the subjective, private, emotional, and phenomenological that belongs to the people he studied.

Beyond Scientific Laws

Throughout his work, Oliver Sacks gave us many beautiful examples of how to talk about disorders and illness with total respect for the patient. In the literature of which he is the author, people who might be considered insane appear portrayed with total humanity.

I did not write as if I dissected incomplete beings or completely different from the rest: eccentric men, women with unusual problems, but never people separated from humanity by an insurmountable breach. Oliver Sacks talks about these people to show the functioning of the human body: what makes us equal, what works in the same way in each one of us, without looking away from the particularity of each human being but without emphasizing the differences.

That is why his books are possibly the best way to learn about psychiatric illness and the rules that govern our brain without looking away from what makes us capable of feeling, loving, and experiencing. The human quality that emerges from the literature written by Oliver Sacks is difficult to find in scientific dissemination and even less so in that talks about the motor of our emotions and thoughts.


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