Oliver Sacks, the influential neurologist and writer many called the “poet laureate of medicine,” has died at his home in New York City. He was 82.
The London-born academic was the author of several books about unusual medical conditions, including The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and An Anthropologist on Mars. Dr. Sacks wrote passionately and sympathetically about his patients. He refused to depict these people as scientific curiosities, but wrote with great concern over the impact that his patients’ neurological disorders had on their day-to-day lives. His case studies were as dramatic as the greatest literary narratives, offering detailed and compelling stories with sympathetic human characterization for his patients.
Dr. Sacks won widespread acclaim for his 1973 book Awakenings, based on his work with patients treated with a drug that woke them up after years of catatonia. This book would later be adapted into a play by Harold Pinter and an Oscar-nominated film starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro. Beyond his role as a neurologist and physician, Sacks was also an avid lover of music, literature, chemistry, and also a recreational swimmer. Dr. Sack’s autobiography, On the Move: A Life was released earlier this year.
A polymath, humanist, and gifted writer, Dr. Oliver Sacks will be long remembered for his work that offered insight and understanding of the relationship between the human mind and body.