Oliver Sacks Dies

The neurologist and author had written about his recent experiences being “face to face with dying.”

By | August 31, 2015

WIKIMEDIA, MARIA POPOVAOliver Sacks, a physician and author of popular books on the magnificence and malfunctioning of the brain, died Sunday (August 30). He was 82.

He is perhaps best known for his books The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Awakenings, Musicophilia, and others. The stories that populated his writings were often inspired from his experiences treating patients with mental maladies, such as face blindness—a condition Sacks himself lived with—musical hallucinations, and Tourette’s syndrome.

“He was an extraordinary and exemplary doctor,” Jerome Groopman wrote in The New Yorker Sunday. “He questioned absolutist categories of normal and abnormal, healthy and debilitated. He did not ignore or romanticize the suffering of the individual. He sought to locate not just the affliction but a core of creative possibility and a reservoir of potential that was untapped in the patient.”

In February, Sacks announced that an ocular melanoma had metastasized to his liver.

“A few weeks ago, in the country, far from the lights of the city, I saw the entire sky ‘powdered with stars’ (in Milton’s words); such a sky, I imagined, could be seen only on high, dry plateaus like that of Atacama in Chile (where some of the world’s most powerful telescopes are),” Sacks wrote last month (July 26) in The New York Times. “It was this celestial splendor that suddenly made me realize how little time, how little life, I had left. My sense of the heavens’ beauty, of eternity, was inseparably mixed for me with a sense of transience—and death.”

His autobiography, On the Move: A Life, was published this year; Sacks continued to write until his final days. “And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life—achieving a sense of peace within oneself,” he wrote earlier this month (August 16) in the New York Times. “I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.”

Sacks is survived by his partner, Billy Hayes.

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You

You

Processing...
Processing...

Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo

Popular Now

  1. How Gaining and Losing Weight Affects the Body
    Daily News How Gaining and Losing Weight Affects the Body

    Millions of measurements from 23 people who consumed extra calories every day for a month reveal changes in proteins, metabolites, and gut microbiota that accompany shifts in body mass.

  2. That Other CRISPR Patent Dispute
    Daily News That Other CRISPR Patent Dispute

    The Broad Institute and Rockefeller University disagree over which scientists should be named as inventors on certain patents involving the gene-editing technology.

  3. Neurons Use Virus-Like Proteins to Transmit Information
  4. EPO Revokes Broad’s CRISPR Patent
    The Nutshell EPO Revokes Broad’s CRISPR Patent

    Shortly after ruling out the earliest priority dates on a foundational patent for CRISPR gene-editing technology, the European Patent Office rescinded the patent entirely—and more are likely to follow.

AAAS