Listening Back To Our Conversation With Oliver Sacks

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This interview originally aired July 18, 2013.

Oliver Sacks, celebrated neurologist and best-selling author, has died at 82. We’ll listen back to our remarkable 2013 interview with Oliver Sacks on life and aging.

Oliver Sacks (Elena Seibert)
Oliver Sacks (Elena Seibert)

Famed neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks died over the weekend at 82. Sacks made a double career of exploring the human brain, and writing about the most remarkable patients and stories he found in that work. "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" was just one of his bestselling books. "Awakenings" another. Robin Williams played Sacks in the movie. In 2013, we talked with Oliver Sacks about life and aging. "The joy of aging," he called it. As always, he was remarkable. This hour On Point: we listen back to our last conversation, on the last years of life, with the late, great Oliver Sacks.
- Tom Ashbrook


Oliver Sacks, physician and best-selling author. Professor of neurology at the NYU School of Medicine. His op-ed in the New York Times is "The Joy of Old Age. (No Kidding.)" His book "Hallucinations" was just released in paperback. (@oliversacks)

Louise Aronson, professor of geriatrics at University of California, San Francisco, where she directs the Northern California Geriatric Education Center. (@louisearonson)

From Tom's Reading List

The New York Times: The Joy of Old Age. (No Kidding.) — "Eighty! I can hardly believe it. I often feel that life is about to begin, only to realize it is almost over. My mother was the 16th of 18 children; I was the youngest of her four sons, and almost the youngest of the vast cousinhood on her side of the family. I was always the youngest boy in my class at high school. I have retained this feeling of being the youngest, even though now I am almost the oldest person I know."

New Yorker: Oliver Sacks, the Doctor — "Sacks showed that it was possible to overcome this limited perspective. He questioned absolutist categories of normal and abnormal, healthy and debilitated. He did not ignore or romanticize the suffering of the individual. He sought to locate not just the affliction but a core of creative possibility and a reservoir of potential that was untapped in the patient. There was the case history, for instance, of a color-blind painter who lost all perception of color but discovered that he could capture the nuances of forms and shapes in hues of black and gray with great mastery."

The Guardian: Oliver Sacks, eminent neurologist and Awakenings author, dies aged 82 — "Oliver Sacks, the eminent neurologist and writer garlanded as the “poet laureate of medicine”, has died at his home in New York City. He was 82.The cause of death was cancer, Kate Edgar, his longtime personal assistant, told the New York Times, which had published an essay by Sacks in February revealing that an earlier melanoma in his eye had spread to his liver and that he was in the late stages of terminal cancer."

This program aired on September 1, 2015.


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