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Fascinating topics but a torturous read
am 23. November 1998
Note, I am not a medical professional. I have extracurricular interests in neuroscience and neurology that lead me to seek out information on topics like those in this book. Though the topics in this book are wholly fascinating, the text was such a torture to read, I could only wonder why I was being punished as I gritted my teeth through every page.
The book reviews a broad spectrum of neurological sequalae from the domains of vision, hearing, memory, and so on. Case studies are used to illustrate symptoms and results of simple experimentation. "Conversations" with patients are presented to vary the text and to keep the reader "involved." Unfortunately, while the presentation is good in theory, the author(s) fails woefully in creating an engaging and well-paced presentation.
After the book introduction emphasizes the quest to appeal to a "lay" audience, the author (or co-author) assumes an intensely patronizing tone accompanied early on by analogies to "Baywatch" and Madonna literature. Activation in temporal or parietal lobes is referred to as activity along the "What" or "How Pathways," in keeping with the proposition that technical terms like "brain" are not appropriate for a lay audience. Furthermore, though purportedly a long term, studied expert in neurology and neuroscience, the author seems to possess a great lack of empathy (or even sympathy) of his patients' attributes from the patients' points-of-view. At least, he adopts only a "gosh dern patient must be bonkers" attitude that he perhaps feels will ingratiate himself with the "lay" audience. Finally, he introduces nearly every experiment and theory as if they are his own original work. Though he should claim some of the studies as his own, particularly concerning phantom limbs, by no means are all or even most of his experiments original.
If you have *never* read any literature concerning the brain before, including any high-level Sacks material, you might find this book appropriately simplistic and generalized. Otherwise, there are better (and less painful) ways to come by the information herein.