Posted by Dr. Vollmer on September 1, 2015
Oliver Sacks, a UCLA trained neurologist, famous for his “stealing” a patient from the hospital to take her on a joy ride on his motorcycle, to give her some pleasure in the midst of a devastating illness. He promoted the human mind as a complex entity which can only be studied by listening to the narrative, the construction of a story, as a window into the brain. Inspiring. He listened and he wrote and then he listened more intensely in order to understand and to share the inconsistencies of the human mind. He reminds me why I am board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, as our fields merge in their passion for understanding the human nervous system. Today, of course, neurology is dominated by intense imaging studies which reveal more than we ever thought possible. Although that technology is immensely valuable to those who have mysterious neurological conditions, it does not, or should not, replace the need to listen to the patient’s narrative as a way of understanding their struggles. Oliver Sacks reminded us of this through his personal journey and through his eloquent writings. He shared with us that curiosity was a good first step to examining the brain. He is my hero.