British neurologist Oliver Sacks wrote a book published in 1985 entitled: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat’, which featured prose narratives of twenty-four patient case histories. The title case was from a study of a man with visual agnosia. Wikipedia’s brief entry says:
“There are two types of visual agnosia: apperceptive agnosia and associative agnosia.
Recognition of visual objects occurs at two primary levels. At an apperceptive level, the features of the visual information from the retina are put together to form a perceptual representation of an object. At an associative level, the meaning of an object is attached to the perceptual representation and the object is identified. If a person is unable to recognize objects because they cannot perceive correct forms of the objects, although their knowledge of the objects is intact, it is apperceptive agnosia. If a person correctly perceives the forms and has knowledge of the objects, but cannot identify the objects, it is associative agnosia.”
And yes, the condition has spawned some great social satire, as you might guess. To borrow from my Swiss friend Obey’s grim satire: “The world watches with concern in hope that America stops mistaking itself for a hat.”
Da Wiki also says:
“Sacks was the author of numerous best-selling books, including collections of case studies of people with neurological disorders. His writings have been featured in a wider range of media than any other contemporary medical author, with The New York Times referring to him as a “poet laureate of contemporary medicine”. His books describe cases with a wealth of narrative detail about the experiences of patients and how they coped, often illuminating how the normal brain deals with perception, memory and individuality.
Awakenings (1973), an autobiographical account of his efforts to help people with encephalitis lethargica regain proper neurological function, was adapted into the Academy Award-nominated film of the same name in 1990 starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro. He and his book Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain were the subject of “Musical Minds”, an episode of the PBS series Nova. In 2008 Sacks was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to literature.
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