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Oliver Sacks, the neurologist with the soul of a humanist, dies

Oliver Sacks, the neurologist with the soul of a humanist, dies

April 22, 2024

Oliver Sacks , famous neurologist and renowned author of books such as "The man who confused his wife with a hat" or "Awakenings", Died yesterday , August 30, 2015 at 82 years of age . Sacks had already announced in February of this year that he was in the terminal stage and that he had 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.

That is reflected in his way of writing, direct and accessible to all audiences, not exempt from it 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 of 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, his humanist heart, a force that moved him to love and appreciate the subjective, private, emotional and phenomenological, that which belongs to the people he studied and what he could never have accessed as a scientist.

Beyond scientific laws

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

I did not write as if I were dissecting 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 of us, without looking away from the particularity of each human being 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 which talks about the motor of our emotions and thoughts.

Dr. Oliver Sacks, Explorer of the Brain | Obituary | The New York Times (April 2024).

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