The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat | Teen Ink

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat MAG

By Andrew L., Mercer Island, WA

     What would you say to a man who would not recognize his own leg, or to a man who mistook his wife for a hat? The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat is a collection of 20 stories involving Oliver Sacks’ patients. His patients may have coordination disorders, cerebral palsy, Tourette’s, or other neurological disorders. When people hear the title, they may think the book will be humorous, but it is not.

In all of Sacks’ stories, one factor stands out. He shares his experiences with readers to dispel prejudice against people who are different because of their problems. One very important truth that Sacks tries to incorporate into his life and work is that one can respect others no matter what their limitations may be. That belief is probably what motivated him to write this book.

I agree that people with problems deserve the respect and dignity a “normal” person receives. Why should someone who is different be ostracized?

This is a memorable book because of Sacks’ description of each patient. My favorite is the last chapter, “The Autistic Artist.” When Sacks tells his patient Jose to draw his pocket watch, one of the nurses tells Sacks, “He’s an idiot. Don’t even ask him. He don’t know what it is. He can’t tell time. He can’t even talk. They say he’s autistic, but he’s just an idiot.” Sacks doesn’t let this deter him and encourages Jose to draw the watch. To his surprise, Jose creates an incredibly accurate rendition. Another reason this is my favorite chapter is because it demonstrates that people who have been dismissed as “defective” can be good at something.

This book has truly moved me with its perspective. No one should judge a person by what’s “wrong” with them. Instead they should look at their other qualities. Before when I ran into these people, I would turn away, but now I know that they’re not so different from me. I don’t plan on working in a facility that cares for the mentally disabled, but it is good to know about neurological disorders.

What is sad is how people judge others before they know them. Sacks has taught me that everyone deserves respect, no matter who they are. Everyone should read this book.

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This article has 5 comments.

i love this !

on Jun. 1 2013 at 7:49 pm
ramfthomas4 PLATINUM, South Bend, Indiana
26 articles 1 photo 98 comments

Favorite Quote:
“If the present world go astray, the cause is in you, in you it is to be sought.”
― Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

My pastor referenced this book in his sermon and was very impressed.  I may have to read it!

on Nov. 30 2012 at 4:19 am
It is well known that money makes people disembarrass. But how to act if someone has no money? The only one way is to receive the business loans or sba loan.

on Nov. 29 2012 at 10:29 pm
HopeIsWhatWeCrave GOLD, Rowlett, Texas
11 articles 1 photo 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
[Frodo] How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on... when in your heart you begin to understand... there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend... some hurts that go too deep... that have taken hold.


[Pippin] I didn't think it would end this way.
[Gandalf] End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path... One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass... And then you see it.
[Pippin] What? Gandalf?... See what?
[Gandalf] White shores... and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.
[Pippin] Well, that isn't so bad.
[Gandalf] No... No it isn't.


[Frodo] I can't do this Sam.
[Sam] I know. By rights we shouldn't even be here, but we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn't want to know the end, because how could the end by happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even the darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. The folk in those stories had plenty of chances of turning back only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding onto something.
[Frodo] What were they holding onto, Sam?
[Sam] That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for

I actually went and read this book because of your review! Thanks so much. I gave it 5 stars.

Sarah_jay said...
on Apr. 7 2011 at 9:48 am
Sarah_jay, Battle Creek, Michigan
0 articles 0 photos 4 comments
I think I might read this book, Thanks for the review

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