Close cookie details

This site uses cookies. Learn more about cookies.

OverDrive would like to use cookies to store information on your computer to improve your user experience at our Website. One of the cookies we use is critical for certain aspects of the site to operate and has already been set. You may delete and block all cookies from this site, but this could affect certain features or services of the site. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, click here to see our Privacy Policy.

If you do not wish to continue, please click here to exit this site.

Hide notification

  Main Nav
Hallucinations
Cover of Hallucinations
Hallucinations
Borrow Borrow

“Illuminate[s] the complexities of the human brain and the mysteries of the human mind.” —The New York Times
To many people, hallucinations imply madness, but in fact they are a common part of the human experience. These sensory distortions range from the shimmering zigzags of a visual migraine to powerful visions brought on by fever, injuries, drugs, sensory deprivation, exhaustion, or even grief. Hallucinations doubtless lie behind many mythological traditions, literary inventions, and  religious epiphanies.
Drawing on his own experiences, a wealth of clinical cases from among his patients, and famous historical examples ranging from Dostoevsky to Lewis Carroll, the legendary neurologist Oliver Sacks investigates the mystery of these sensory deceptions: what they say about the working of our brains, how they have influenced our folklore and culture, and why the potential for hallucination is present in us all.

“Illuminate[s] the complexities of the human brain and the mysteries of the human mind.” —The New York Times
To many people, hallucinations imply madness, but in fact they are a common part of the human experience. These sensory distortions range from the shimmering zigzags of a visual migraine to powerful visions brought on by fever, injuries, drugs, sensory deprivation, exhaustion, or even grief. Hallucinations doubtless lie behind many mythological traditions, literary inventions, and  religious epiphanies.
Drawing on his own experiences, a wealth of clinical cases from among his patients, and famous historical examples ranging from Dostoevsky to Lewis Carroll, the legendary neurologist Oliver Sacks investigates the mystery of these sensory deceptions: what they say about the working of our brains, how they have influenced our folklore and culture, and why the potential for hallucination is present in us all.

Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:


Excerpts-
  • From the book Hearing Things

    In 1973 the journal Science published an article that caused an immediate furor. It was entitled "On Being Sane in Insane Places," and it described how, as an experiment, eight "pseudopatients" with no history of mental illness presented themselves at a variety of hospitals across the United States. Their single complaint was that they "heard voices." They told hospital staff that they could not really make out what the voices said but that they heard the words "empty," "hollow," and "thud." Apart from this fabrication, they behaved normally and recounted their own (normal) past experiences and medical histories. Nonetheless, all of them were diagnosed as schizophrenic (except one, who was diagnosed with "manic-depressive psychosis"), hospitalized for up to two months, and prescribed antipsychotic medications (which they did not swallow). Once admitted to the mental wards, they continued to speak and behave normally; they reported to the medical staff that their hallucinated voices had disappeared and that they felt fine. They even kept notes on their experiment, quite openly (this was registered in the nursing notes for one pseudopatient as "writing behavior"), but none of the pseudopatients were identified as such by the staff. This experiment, designed by David Rosenhan, a Stanford psychologist (and himself a pseudopatient), emphasized, among other things, that the single symptom of "hearing voices" could suffice for an immediate, categorical diagnosis of schizophrenia even in the absence of any other symptoms or abnormalities of behavior. Psychiatry, and society in general, had been subverted by the almost axiomatic belief that "hearing voices" spelled madness and never occurred except in the context of severe mental disturbance.

    This belief is a fairly recent one, as the careful and humane reservations of early researchers on schizophrenia made clear. But by the 1970s, antipsychotic drugs and tranquilizers had begun to replace other treatments, and careful history taking, looking at the whole life of the patient, had largely been replaced by the use of DSM criteria to make snap diagnoses.

    Eugen Bleuler, who directed the huge Burghölzli asylum near Zurich from 1898 to 1927, paid close and sympathetic attention to the many hundreds of schizophrenic people under his care. He recognized that the "voices" his patients heard, however outlandish they might seem, were closely associated with their mental states and delusions. The voices, he wrote, embodied "all their strivings and fears ... their entire transformed relationship to the external world ... above all ... [to] the pathological or hostile powers" that beset them. He described these in vivid detail in his great 1911 monograph, Dementia Praecox; or, The Group of Schizophrenias:

    The voices not only speak to the patient, but they pass electricity through the body, beat him, paralyse him, take his thoughts away. They are often hypostasized as people, or in other very bizarre ways. For example, a patient claims that a "voice" is perched above each of his ears. One voice is a little larger than the other but both are about the size of a walnut, and they consist of nothing but a large ugly mouth.

    Threats or curses form the main and most common content of the "voices." Day and night they come from everywhere, from the walls, from above and below, from the cellar and the roof, from heaven and from hell, from near and far ... When the patient is eating, he hears a voice saying, "Each mouthful is stolen." If he drops something, he hears, "If only your foot had been chopped off."

    The voices are often very contradictory. At...
About the Author-
  • OLIVER SACKS is a professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and the author of many books, including Musicophilia, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and Awakenings (which inspired the Oscar-nominated film).
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 25, 2013
    Olive Sacks sets himself a challenging task in his latest book: to explore the full range of human hallucinations, those figments of the imagination that terrify, madden, comfort, or merely entertain. Drawing on famous cases, from Joan of Arc to Dostoyevski, Sacks charts a diverse and pervasive phenomenon, one rich in colorful examples caused by trauma, drugs, illnesses, the mind’s deterioration, or boredom and the absence of stimuli. The scope of human hallucinations Sacks presents is staggering for its range, myriad causes, and levels of severity. Some hallucinations are little more than distractions: an imagined song in place of silence, a conversation with an absent friend, a light sense of déjà vu. For others hallucinations create the fabric of the world in which they live, with the often-frightening images overwhelming reality. The solid performance of Dan Woren, whose business-like narration is the one constant throughout, keeps the listener grounded even during the book’s most fantastic passages. Woren offers a brisk reading that when paired with the author’s elegant prose guides listeners safely on a long and surreal journey through fantasy and nightmare. A Knopf hardcover.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 13, 2012
    We think of seeing—or hearing, smelling, touching or inchoately sensing—things that aren’t there as a classic sign of madness, but it’s really a human commonplace, according to Sacks’s latest fascinating exploration of neuropsychiatric weirdness. Acclaimed neurologist Sacks (The Mind’s Eye) investigates a wide range of hallucinations, from the geometric zigzags of some migraines and the painful cramps of phantom limbs to florid multicharacter melodramas, grotesque phantasms, and mystic trances induced by brain disorders and drugs. He also studies how people live with their hallucinations; some recognize them as just diverting figments while for others they constitute an inescapable unreality as malevolent and terrifying as a horror movie. (Sacks amply recounts his own entertaining hallucinations, including a drug-induced encounter with a spider who talked to him about Bertrand Russell.) As always, Sacks approaches the topic as both a brain scientist and a humanist; he shows how hallucinations elucidate intricate neurological mechanisms—often they are the brain’s bizarre attempt to fill in for missing sensory input—and examines their imprint on folklore and culture. (Dostoyevski’s fiction, he theorizes, is marked by the ecstatic religious trances induced by his epilepsy.) Writing with his trademark mix of evocative description, probing curiosity, and warm empathy, Sacks once again draws back the curtain on the mind’s improbable workings. Agent: The Wylie Agency.

  • Kirkus

    September 15, 2012
    Acclaimed British neurologist Sacks (Neurology and Psychiatry/Columbia Univ.; The Mind's Eye, 2010, etc.) delves into the many different sorts of hallucinations that can be generated by the human mind. The author assembles a wide range of case studies in hallucinations--seeing, hearing or otherwise perceiving things that aren't there--and the varying brain quirks and disorders that cause them in patients who are otherwise mentally healthy. In each case, he presents a fascinating condition and then expounds on the neurological causes at work, drawing from his own work as a neurologist, as well as other case studies, letters from patients and even historical records and literature. For example, he tells the story of an elderly blind woman who "saw" strange people and animals in her room, caused by Charles Bonnet Syndrome, a condition in with the parts of the brain responsible for vision draw on memories instead of visual perceptions. In another chapter, Sacks recalls his own experimentation with drugs, describing his auditory hallucinations. He believed he heard his neighbors drop by for breakfast, and he cooked for them, "put their ham and eggs on a tray, walked into the living room--and found it completely empty." He also tells of hallucinations in people who have undergone prolonged sensory deprivation and in those who suffer from Parkinson's disease, migraines, epilepsy and narcolepsy, among other conditions. Although this collection of disorders feels somewhat formulaic, it's a formula that has served Sacks well in several previous books (especially his 1985 bestseller The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat), and it's still effective--largely because Sacks never turns exploitative, instead sketching out each illness with compassion and thoughtful prose. A riveting look inside the human brain and its quirks.

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    June 1, 2012

    Hallucinations don't belong wholly to the insane. Illness or injury, intoxication or sensory deprivation, or simply falling sleeping can cause anyone to see (or hear, or smell, or sense) swirly, twirly things that aren't there. Everyone's favorite neurologist is back to explain types of hallucinations, what they tell us about the brain's workings, and how they have influenced art and culture. Who knew medicine could be so much fun.

    Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from September 1, 2012
    Sacks' best-selling nonfiction stories based on his practice of clinical neurology constitute one shining reason for thinking that we're living in a golden age of medical writing. His twelfth book, though neither as scrappy as The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (1985) nor as focused as Musicophilia (2007), yields nothing to them in fascination. It's about the varieties of seeing, hearing, smelling, and feeling things that aren't there, from Charles Bonnet syndrome, in which sufferers of vision losses see people, animals, and cartoonlike figures more vividly than their impairments should allow, to the kinds of seeing oneself, which include out-of-body experiences as well as doppelganger encounters. The final chapter (of 15) considers the related phenomena of phantom body parts, which differ from other hallucinations in that they occur immediately and almost invariably after loss of their physical originals. Sacks never talks down to readers nor weighs them down with too much neurological patois. When he does use an unfamiliar term, his genial, informative style makes one want to look it up. High-Demand Backstory: Sacks defines the best of medical writing, and his latest book will be promoted as such.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2012, American Library Association.)

  • American Psychological Association

    "Although the descriptions of hallucinations are interesting in their own right, what gives real substance to the book on two levels are Sacks's explanations of the causes of various hallucinatory phenomena and his notes on the history of the science, the scientists, and the physicians who have sought to explain these phenomena. Overall, Sacks does a commendable job of explaining the workings of the brain in an accessible manner....That said, even the most erudite of readers is likely to learn something new."

  • Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times "Absorbing...Dr. Sacks provides what he calls a kind of 'natural history or anthology of hallucinations' drawn from his patients' experiences, his own observations and from literature on the subject...Sacks conjures these apparitions in language that has an easy, tactile magic. As he's done in so many of his earlier books, like The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and An Anthropologist on Mars, he uses his medical knowledge to illuminate the complexities of the human brain and the mysteries of the human mind. At the same time, his compassion for his patients and his own philosophical outlook turn what might have been clinical case studies into humanely written short stories, animated as much by an intuitive appreciation of the human condition as by scientific understanding."
  • Publishers Weekly "Fascinating...Writing with his trademark mix of evocative description, probing curiosity, and warm empathy, Sacks once again draws back the curtain on the mind's improbable workings."
  • Booklist "Sacks' best-selling nonfiction stories based on his practice of clinical neurology constitute one shining reason for thinking that we're living in a golden age of medical writing...Sacks defines the best of medical writing."
  • Library Journal, starred review "Another gem of a book...With a fine sense of narrative, Sacks deftly integrates literature, art, and medical history around his very human, often riveting, case histories. This book is recommended for all readers, not just those with symptoms! This is a model of humane science made compellingly readable."
  • Washington Post "This doctor cares deeply about his patients' experiences--about their lives, not just about their diseases. Through his accounts we can imagine what it is like to find that our perceptions don't hook on to reality--that our brains are constructing a world that nobody else can see, hear or touch...Sacks has turned hallucinations from something bizarre and frightening into something that seems part of what it means to be a person. His book, too, is a medical and human triumph."
  • Elle "Wondrous."
  • Time "Sacks' science writing is always revelatory, and there are moments in Hallucinations when seeing things can feel downright life-affirming."
  • David Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine "Mesmerizing."
  • Hilary Mantel, Wall Street Journal Favorites of 2012 "Oliver Sacks is my hero, so any book he publishes is a book of the year for me...His book explores not only his own experiences but a wide variety of conditions that can cause patients to see things that aren't there, and his writing is characterized by a mix of close-focus scientific scrutiny and broad human sympathy."
  • Michiko Kakutani, New York Times Top Ten of the Year "Fascinating...Dr. Sacks's compassion for his patients and philosophical outlook transform what might have been clinical case studies into humanely written short stories that illuminate the complexities of the human brain and the mysteries of the human mind."
  • Laura Miller, Salon "A brisk but characteristically absorbing survey of the many ways human beings perceive things that are not there...[Sacks] conveys, as ever, an expansive enthusiasm for the brain itself, for its complexity and resilience and for the myriad ways that the individual owners of remarkable brains have learned to understand, cope with, and even relish their own neural eccentricities."
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch "Should be required reading for anyone in a caregiver position...Sacks, a practicing neurologist in New York City, blends centuries-old medical wisdom, curr
Title Information+
  • Publisher
    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • OverDrive Read
    Release date:
  • EPUB eBook
    Release date:
Digital Rights Information+
  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

Status bar:

You've reached your checkout limit.

Visit your Checkouts page to manage your titles.

Close

You already have this title checked out.

Want to go to your Checkouts?

Close

Recommendation Limit Reached.

You've reached the maximum number of titles you can recommend at this time. You can recommend up to 99 titles every 1 day(s).

Close

Sign in to recommend this title.

Recommend your library consider adding this title to the Digital Collection.

Close

Enhanced Details

Close
Close

Limited availability

Availability can change throughout the month based on the library's budget.

is available for days.

Once playback starts, you have hours to view the title.

Close

Permissions

Close

The OverDrive Read format of this eBook has professional narration that plays while you read in your browser. Learn more here.

Close

Holds

Total holds:


Close

Restricted

Some format options have been disabled. You may see additional download options outside of this network.

Close

MP3 audiobooks are only supported on macOS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) through 10.14 (Mojave). Learn more about MP3 audiobook support on Macs.

Close

Please update to the latest version of the OverDrive app to stream videos.

Close

Device Compatibility Notice

The OverDrive app is required for this format on your current device.

Close

Bahrain, Egypt, Hong Kong, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen

Close

You've reached your library's checkout limit for digital titles.

To make room for more checkouts, you may be able to return titles from your Checkouts page.

Close

Excessive Checkout Limit Reached.

There have been too many titles checked out and returned by your account within a short period of time.

Try again in several days. If you are still not able to check out titles after 7 days, please contact Support.

Close

You have already checked out this title. To access it, return to your Checkouts page.

Close

This title is not available for your card type. If you think this is an error contact support.

Close

An unexpected error has occurred.

If this problem persists, please contact support.

Close

Close

NOTE: Barnes and Noble® may change this list of devices at any time.

Close
Buy it now
and help our library WIN!
Hallucinations
Hallucinations
Oliver Sacks
Choose a retail partner below to buy this title for yourself.
A portion of this purchase goes to support your library.
Close
Close

There are no copies of this issue left to borrow. Please try to borrow this title again when a new issue is released.

Close
Barnes & Noble Sign In |   Sign In

You will be prompted to sign into your library account on the next page.

If this is your first time selecting “Send to NOOK,” you will then be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

The first time you select “Send to NOOK,” you will be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

You can read periodicals on any NOOK tablet or in the free NOOK reading app for iOS, Android or Windows 8.

Accept to ContinueCancel