Review: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks


A classic work of psychology, this international bestseller provides a groundbreaking insight into the human mind.

In his most extraordinary book, Oliver Sacks recounts the stories of patients with inexplicable and often inescapable neurological disorders. Here are people who have lost their memories and with them their pasts; who can no longer recognize everyday objects or those they love; who suffer mental anguish and yet are gifted with uncanny artistic or mathematical talents. But while no two cases are alike, each one is treated with unparalleled compassion and wisdom.

A fascinating exploration of the mysteries of the human mind, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat is a million-copy bestseller by the twentieth century’s greatest neurologist.


I really enjoyed this book. I studied psychology in school (I know it’s not the same thing) and I loved learning about behaviours and ways the mind works, so this was perfect for my interests! Throughout this book, Sacks brings us several stories about cases he’s worked on, where some neurological function has gone wrong or is different to normal, and how this affects a person’s behaviour, memories and senses.

This book is a mix of intrigue, tragedy and inspiration. While the stories of each case are shocking and interesting to read about, it’s oftentimes a sad story. These people are plagued by memory loss, tics, losing the understanding of words etc, and most of the time, they’re aware there is something missing or something wrong, and it depresses them. What brings the mood of this book back around is the fact that Sacks or another team of neurologists and doctors are able to often find a solution, of sorts, to raise the spirits of the patient and, overall, this book is a celebration of imperfection.

Something to note is that this book is very non-fiction. It’s clear when you’re reading it that it’s factual and scientific, it doesn’t have any story like qualities about it, like books from Jon Ronson or Emmanuel Carrère. This means (for me, anyway) that your brain feels heavy with all the information and you want to put it down because it’s getting too educational and complex. Sacks is constantly throwing around large neurological related terms like “hyperagnosia” and “meningioma”, so it’s safe to say your brain gets a little fried after a while.

It’s taken me well over two years to actually finish this book thanks to a heavy and complex subject, but the fact that each chapter is about a different story helped mean that I didn’t have to remind myself of what came before each time I picked it up.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Details:

Page: 272
Edition Published: 2015
Genre: Nonfiction, Psychology
Goodreads Av. Rating: 4.06


12 Replies to “Review: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks”

  1. Lovely review! I was never really into non-fiction, but last year somehow I managed to read 4 of them and I ended up enjoying all of them. In my mind, non-fiction is always a bit borning and hard to get through, but reading about topics like psychology (which I also study) has actually been really fun. This is one I would definitely like to get to in the future 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! I love non-fiction, when you find a good one. There’s so many bad ones but then I guess that’s the same with fiction too! It’s just finding something you’re interested in. You should definitely check this out if you’re into psychology non-fiction 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome! I’m happy I’ve started discovering them. Do you have any other psychology non-fiction recs? 😁

        Liked by 1 person

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