Oliver Sacks who popularized science of perception dies at 82


Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks died this morning at age 82. He was made famous by the movie, “Awakenings”, based on one of his books, but more importantly he popularized science of how the mind works, particularly its eccentricities, with works like “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat”.

He has said, “My religion is nature. That’s what arouses those feelings of wonder and mysticism and gratitude in me.”

Sacks came out late in life, due in part to his powerful shyness, ending many years of celibacy in 2008 and writing about his homosexuality for the first time in a 2015 autobiography, “On the Move: A Life”. His life is an inspiration for what introverted or socially anxious people might accomplish.

An unusual, lifelong condition, prosopagnosia, impaired Sacks’ ability to recognize faces. In 2001 he lost depth perception due to treatment for an ocular melanoma. He discussed these experiences among other oddities of visual perception in “The Mind’s Eye”.

In January 2015 he learned that the original cancer had metastasized to his liver, and determined to live his last few months as fully as possible.

From Oliver Sacks: ““Every act of perception, is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination.”

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