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"Narrowness of experience leads to narrowness of imagination."

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Oliver Sacks (author), Hailey Wojcik (covers) and Tsilli Pines (covers)
Original language:
Alfred A. Knopf
Drugs, neurology and psychology
Publication year:

Hallucinations deals with various circumstances under which hallucinations can occur, be they caused by migraines, epilepsy, Parkinson's Disease, drugs, or delirium tremens. Each chapter deals with some specific syndrome (Charles Bonnet Syndrome) or state (narcolepsy) related to hallucinations, and Sacks explains the relationship, liberally sprinkled with case histories from Sacks' own career, and the occasional personal anecdote, to better illuminate the subject.


Before reading this book I was aware of hallucinations caused by drugs and the hierophanous ecstasies of epileptics, but the sheer breadth of things that can cause hallucinations and circumstances under which they could occur, I had no idea. In fact (and I suppose this is one reason why Sacks wrote the book), hallucinations are kind of a taboo, and in Sacks' own experience, a lot of patients will have qualms about admitting to hallucinations to their doctor, when, in fact, hallucinations are pretty common.

I can recommend this book to you even if you are only mildly interested in the subject. The subject matter itself is pretty interesting, but the book is so well-written and the case histories so intriguing that I can recommend it on that score alone.

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Table of Contents:
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  • Introduction
  1. Silent Multitudes: Charles Bonnet Syndrome
  2. The Prisoner's Cinema: Sensory Deprivation
  3. A Few Nanograms of Wine: Hallucinatory Smells
  4. Hearing Things
  5. The Illusions of Parkinsonism
  6. Altered States
  7. Patterns: Visual Migraines
  8. The "Sacred" Disease
  9. Bisected: Hallucinations in the Half-Field
  10. Delirious
  11. On the Threshold of Sleep
  12. Narcolepsy and Night Hags
  13. The Haunted Mind
  14. Doppelgängers: Hallucinating Oneself
  15. Phantoms, Shadows, and Sensory Ghosts
  • Acknowledgments
  • Bibliography
  • Index

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