Book review: Hallucinations, By Oliver Sacks
Boyd Tonkin is Literary Editor at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Social Policy Editor of the New Statesman and has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes. He has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime's achievement in literature.
Friday 23 August 2013
Who knew that our favourite avuncular neurologist used to be the biggest dopehead in mid-1960s California?
Discreetly tucked into this beguiling package of case histories about every variety of hallucination - phantom limbs to ghosts and voices - is Sacks's report on his drug use while a young doctor.
The voracious experimenter even mixed his own cocktail, a "pharmacologic launchpad".
What brought him back to earth? Bad trips, yes, but also the discovery that sharing his clinical expertise in words delivered the best high.
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