Oliver W. Sacks (born July 9, 1933, London) is a neurologist who has written popular books about his patients. He considers it following the tradition of 19th-century "clinical anecdotes", literary-style informal case histories. His favorite example is Alexander Luria's The Mind of the Mnemonist.
He earned his medical degrees in Queen's College, Oxford and ended up as a resident in neurology at UCLA. He has lived in New York since 1965. He is a clinical professor of neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, adjunct professor of neurology at the New York University School of Medicine, and consultant neurologist to the Little Sisters of the Poor. He has a practice in New York City.
Sacks describes his cases with little clinical detail, concentrating on the experiences of the patient (which in one case was himself). Many of the cases are incurable or nearly so, but patients are able to adapt to their situation in different ways.
His most famous book, Awakenings (on which the movie of the same name is based), tells about his experiences using the new drug L-Dopa on patients of the 1920s sleeping sickness encephalitis lethargica. It was also the subject of the first film made in the British television series Discovery.
In his other books, he describes cases of Tourette syndrome and various effects of Parkinson's disease. The title article of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat is about a man with visual agnosia. (It was the subject of a 1986 opera by Michael Nyman). The title article of An Anthropologist on Mars is about Temple Grandin, a professor with high-functioning autism. Sacks's writings have been translated into 21 languages, including Catalan, Finnish, and Turkish.
- Migraine (1970)
- Awakenings (1973)
- A leg to stand on (1984) (Sacks's own experience of losing the control of his legs after an accident)
- The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (1985)
- Seeing Voices (1989) (deaf culture and sign language)
- An Anthropologist on Mars (1995)
- The Island of the Colorblind (1997) (total congenital color blindness in an island society)
- Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood (2001)
- Oaxaca Journal (2002)
- "The Mind's Eye" (positive experiences of blind people)