Written by Oliver Sacks
Reviewed by Josh Pultorak, Kohler Fellow at WID and Ph.D. candidate, zoology
“In his twelfth book, Hallucinations (2012), Oliver Sacks succeeds yet again in combining contemporary science with personal anecdotes to create an entertaining, yet informative read. This time, his mind’s eye is turned toward the strange reality of the unreal: perceptual hallucinations. Through an exploration of the science and history of human hallucinations, readers visit the world of shamanic entheogenic ritual, become trapped inside solitary confinement chambers, enter the cortical and subcortical structures underlying sensory perception, meet hospital patients and their life-long imaginary friends, and perhaps most interestingly, sit in the psychologist’s chair as Sacks confesses his own horrors and joys of his extensive explorations in psychedelic self discovery.
This book serves as a reminder that ‘reality’ is indeed a subjective experience and can easily be perturbed. As a student of psychology and someone who is entranced by the power of the human brain and its conscious product we call ‘the mind,’ I was fully charmed by the interweaving personal tales and science of consciousness that Sacks brings forth, as well as his candid, unapologetic, affirming, yet sometimes sobering depiction of psychedelic drug use in the western world.
To WID researchers and fellows (especially those who study the complexity of neural networks, are impassioned to seek medical cures, or are incessantly inspired by the boundaries among art, science, and consciousness), Hallucinations is highly recommended.”