Hallucinations - Oliver Sacks


By Oliver Sacks

  • Release Date: 2012-11-06
  • Genre: Life Sciences
3.5 Score: 3.5 (From 147 Ratings)


Have you ever seen something that wasn’t really there? Heard someone call your name in an empty house? Sensed someone following you and turned around to find nothing?

Hallucinations don’t belong wholly to the insane. Much more commonly, they are linked to sensory deprivation, intoxication, illness, or injury. People with migraines may see shimmering arcs of light or tiny, Lilliputian figures of animals and people. People with failing eyesight, paradoxically, may become immersed in a hallucinatory visual world. Hallucinations can be brought on by a simple fever or even the act of waking or falling asleep, when people have visions ranging from luminous blobs of color to beautifully detailed faces or terrifying ogres. Those who are bereaved may receive comforting “visits” from the departed. In some conditions, hallucinations can lead to religious epiphanies or even the feeling of leaving one’s own body.

Humans have always sought such life-changing visions, and for thousands of years have used hallucinogenic compounds to achieve them. As a young doctor in California in the 1960s, Oliver Sacks had both a personal and a professional interest in psychedelics. These, along with his early migraine experiences, launched a lifelong investigation into the varieties of hallucinatory experience.

Here, with his usual elegance, curiosity, and compassion, Dr. Sacks weaves together stories of his patients and of his own mind-altering experiences to illuminate what hallucinations tell us about the organization and structure of our brains, how they have influenced every culture’s folklore and art, and why the potential for hallucination is present in us all, a vital part of the human condition. 


  • Book has multiple page editing and formatting issues

    By Suzy Q Songs
    I was really looking forward to reading this book as I am a big fan of Oliver Sachs. However, the digital formatting is horrible!! I'm missing chapter 1 in its entirety and multiple chapters are truncated followed by error messages on the pages. Capital letters do not align properly with the page and words float on top of one another. I am left wondering which half of the book I actually purchased and what half I am missing! I would NOT recommend buying this book as a download until the EDITOR devotes a little time to formatting the book appropriately for digital download. I am only giving this edition two thumbs down because of the Editor and Company's sloppiness. Oliver Sachs deserves better!
  • Fantastic writer

    By Fpiano
    As usual, Sacks examples are extremely entertaining and, well, believable! Big gripe though--my copy was filled with mid-sentence, abrupt chapter endings and tiny bottom parts of words at page top and "phantom" tops of words on page bottoms. I am NOT hallucinating!
  • Great non-technical tour into hallucinations

    By hgorni
    As usual, Dr. Sacks delivers with a book full of intriguing accounts that describe different mechanisms of the human mind. It's an awesome book that´s both not too technical so that the layman who is interested in neuroscience can enjoy the read and for those more keen to deepen their knowledge through academic research - since this book gives a great amount of starting points. For those who, like myself, have read a few books by Dr. Sacks before will see a good deal of repetition as he reutilizes cases he already told in previously published books, but the fun is not taken away just because of that. One thing though that could be better worked by his editor is the order in which the cases are presented. It looks backwards to me. The book begins with the most intriguing and fantastic stories, then gradually fades off in direction of more simple and less interesting cases. Great reading nonetheless.
  • Interesting Read

    By RamseyCascade
    I found it interesting, and a little disturbing, how many different ways people can hallucinate without being mentally ill. The author is a little heavy on the jargon. I used the dictionary a lot while reading this book.
  • Readaholic

    By Rockinghorseln
    Fantastic read! Love love love this book!