How Oliver Sacks put a human face on the science of the mind

by Norman Doidge, Globe and Mail, 10 February 2016

Norman Doidge writes a long article about the remarkable life and dying of Dr Oliver Sacks, the renowned neurologist and author of Awakenings, “whose work and life remind us that humanity belongs at the heart of medicine”.

In February, 2015, neurologist Oliver Sacks – arguably the world’s best-known brain doctor and the greatest physician writer in English, wrote an article in The New York Times called My Own Life, announcing that “my luck has run out.” 

Dr. Sacks, 81 years old, still wildly productive, clear-headed, feeling robust, and swimming a mile a day, had just found out he had multiple metastases, from an ocular cancer that had been treated nine years before. One-third of his liver was filled with cancer. 

No sooner had he shared his ill fortune than did he begin to write of his gratitude for the years he had been granted since his original diagnosis, and his overall feeling of gratitude for having lived as “a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet … ” 

Hardly a word more was said about the cancer. For now, face to face with dying, he was not quite done with living. He would restrict himself to essentials, which meant saying goodbye to dear friends and family, and continuing to write as he always had, hoping to die “in harness.”

Click here to read the full article.