In examining disease, we gain wisdom about anatomy and physiology and biology. In examining the person with disease, we gain wisdom about life.

— Oliver Sacks

The most fantastic Oliver Sacks quotes that are little-known but priceless

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.

189

The power of music to integrate and cure.

. . is quite fundamental. It is the profoundest nonchemical medication.

172

People will make a life in their own terms, whether they are deaf or colorblind or autistic or whatever. And their world will be quite as rich and interesting and full as our world.

136

There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate - the genetic and neural fate - of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

128

Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears - it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear. But for many of my neurological patients, music is even more - it can provide access, even when no medication can, to movement, to speech, to life. For them, music is not a luxury, but a necessity.

122

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

108

Language, that most human invention, can enable what, in principle, should not be possible. It can allow all of us, even the congenitally blind, to see with another person’s eyes.

91

Music, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and profoundly emotional. It has no power to represent anything particular or external, but it has a unique power to express inner states or feelings. Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation.

75

I am a man of vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions.

62

There is only one cardinal rule: One must always listen to the patient.

41

I am now face to face with dying. But I am not finished with living.

34

Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears - it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear.

33

About Oliver Sacks

Quotes 108 sayings
Profession Neurologist
Birthday October 16

A disease is never a mere loss or excess.

There is always a reaction on the part of the organism or individual to restore, replace or compensate for and to preserve its identity, however strange the means may be.

32

I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can

30

In terms of brain development, musical performance is every bit as important educationally as reading or writing.

28

Creativity involves the depth of a mind, and many, many depths of unconsciousness.

27

Music is part of being human.

25

Psychotic hallucinations, whether they are visual or vocal, they address you.

They accuse you. They seduce you. They humiliate you. They jeer at you. You interact with them.

23

Music has a bonding power, it's primal social cement

19

There is no one part of the brain which recognizes or responds emotionally to music. Instead, there are many different parts responding to different aspects of music: to pitch, to frequency, to timbre, to tonal intervals, to consonance, to dissonance, to rhythm, to melodic contour, to harmony.

18

I often feel that life is about to begin, only to realize it is almost over.

16

My own first love was biology. I spent a great part of my adolescence in the Natural History museum in London (and I still go to the Botanic Garden almost every day, and to the Zoo every Monday). The sense of diversity of the wonder of innumerable forms of life has always thrilled me beyond anything else.

15

We now know that memories are not fixed or frozen, like Proust's jars of preserves in a larder, but are transformed, disassembled, reassembled, and recategorized with every act of recollection.

14

If migraine patients have a common and legitimate second complaint besides their migraines, it is that they have not been listened to by physicians. Looked at, investigated, drugged, charged, but not listened to.

13

The past which is not recoverable in any other way is embedded, as if in amber, in the music, and people can regain a sense of identity.

13

I was fascinated that one could have such perceptual changes, and also that they went with a certain feeling of significance, an almost numinous feeling. I'm strongly atheist by disposition, but nonetheless when this happened, I couldn't help thinking, 'That must be what the hand of God is like.'

12

Music evokes emotion and emotion can bring it's memory.

12

I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential.

12

Very young children love and demand stories, and can understand complex matters presented as stories, when their powers of comprehending general concepts, paradigms, are almost nonexistent.

12

I feel I should be trying to complete my life, whatever completing a life means.

10

I rejoice when I meet gifted young people... I feel the future is in good hands.

10

Elements and birthdays have been intertwined for me since boyhood, when I learned about atomic numbers.

10

We have, each of us, a life story, whose continuity, whose sense, is our lives.

10

The miracle is that, in most cases, he succeeds - for the powers of survival, of the will to survive, and to survive as a unique inalienable individual, are absolutely, the strongest in our being: stronger than any impulses, stronger than disease.

10

I regard music therapy as a tool of great power in many neurological disorders -- Parkinson's and Alzheimer's -- because of its unique capacity to organize or reorganize cerebral function when it has been damaged.

9

It seems that the brain always has to be active, and if the auditory parts of the brain are not getting sufficient input, then they may start to create hallucinatory sounds on their own. Although it is curious that they do not usually create noises or voices; they create music.

9

Fascinating, Doidge's book is a remarkable and hopeful portrait of the endless adaptability of the human brain.

9

If we have youth, beauty, blessed gifts, strength, if we find fame, fortune, favor, fulfillment, it is easy to be nice, to turn a warm heart to the world.

9

We have five senses in which we glory and which we recognize and celebrate, senses that constitute the sensible world for us. But there are other senses - secret senses, sixth senses, if you will - equally vital, but unrecognized, and unlauded ... unconscious, automatic.

8

I think the brain is a dynamic system in which some parts control or suppress other parts. And if perhaps one has damage in one of the controlling or suppressing areas, then you may have the emergence or eruption of something, whether it is a seizure, a criminal trait - - or even a sudden musical passion.

8

Music originally had a social function.

You were in church, in a concert hall, a marching band; you were dancing. I'm concerned that music could be too separated from its roots and just become a pleasure-giving experience, like a drug.

8

The same areas which are active in listening to music are also active when you imagine music, and this includes the motor areas, too. That explains why earlier, even though I was only thinking of the mazurka, I was thinking in terms of movement.

8

My impression is that a sense of rhythm, which has no analog in language, is unique and that its correlation with movement is unique to human beings. Why else would children start to dance when they're two or three? Chimpanzees don't dance.

7

Studies by Andrew Newberg and others have shown that long-term practice of meditation produces significant alterations in cerebral blood flow in parts of the brain related to attention, emotion, and some autonomic functions.

6

But the saddest difference between them was that Zazetsky, as Luria said, 'fought to regain his lost faculties with the indomitable tenacity of the damned,' whereas Dr P. was not fighting, did not know what was lost. But who was more tragic, or who was more damned -- the man who knew it, or the man who did not?

6

I think there are dozens or hundreds of different forms of creativity.

Pondering science and math problems for years is different from improvising jazz. Something which seems to me remarkable is how unconscious the creative process is. You encounter a problem, but can't solve it.

6

Darwin speculated that “music tones and rhythms were used by our half-human ancestors, during the season of courtship, when animals of all kinds are excited not only by love, but by strong passions of jealousy, rivalry, and triumph” and that speech arose, secondarily, from this primal music.

6

When I was five, I am told, and asked what my favorite things in the world were, I answered, smoked salmon and Bach.

5

The power of music and the plasticity of the brain go together very strikingly, especially in young people.

5
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