Oliver sacks, the man who mistook his wife for a hat

Essay by blahdyblahdyblahHigh School, 12th gradeA+, September 2004

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The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

Mr. P, a music teacher, whose associates have questioned his perception, is referred by his ophthalmologist to the neurologist Oliver Sacks. During the first office visit, Sacks notices that Mr. P faces him with his ears, not his eyes. His gaze seems unnatural, darting and fixating on the doctor's features one at a time. To begin with, there are only a few quirks about him that Dr. Sacks notices. There was confusion about his shoe and his foot and also about what he saw in a picture of sand dunes in the Sahara desert. He seemed to make up in his imagination things he saw in the picture instead of what was actually there. At the end of the interview, at which his wife is present, Mr. P appears to grasp his wife's head and tries to lift it off and put it on his own head.

"He had...mistaken his wife for a hat!" She gave no sign that anything odd had happened.

During the second interview, at Mr. P's home, Mr. P easily describes the geometrical shapes but is unable to identify pictures of his own family or friends or even pictures of himself. He unable to recognize the rose that Sacks has, so he describes it as "a convoluted red form with a linear green attachment." Sacks asked him if he knows what it is and he guesses it could be a flower. When he is asked to smell it, he comes to life and knows it. When alone with Ms. P in the kitchen he sees Mr. P's paintings. The paintings that start as pictures of realism, then go to geometrical abstract shapes, and then finally to splotches and chaotic lines shows how Mr. P's perception visually...



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