Oliver Sacks and his Many Successes

by chanelle hasel on April 22, 2013 - 12:59am

Oliver Sacks is an amazing man that is becoming more and more popular around the world due. He is a physician, best-selling author and a professor of neurology at the NYU School of Medicine as well as a visiting professor at the University of Warwick. Sacks came a long way in order to reach his many accomplishments. He was born in 1933 in London, England, his mother was a surgeon and his father was a feneral practitioner. Being born in a family of physicians and scientists, he decided to follow their route and got a medical degree at Oxford University and did his fellowship in San Francisco. He then moved to New York in 1965, where he became a practicing neurologist and then became a professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center.

However, his real success started in 1966 when he began studying patients that were survivors of the great pandemic of sleepy sickness that swept the world from 1916 to 1927. These people who spent decades in strange, frozen states like human statues intrigued him very much. Amazingly enough, he was able to treat them with a then-experimental drug called L-dopa which allowed them to come back to life. This inspired him to write his book Awakenings that turned into a play and Oscar-Nominated movie. He wrote several other books that described patients struggling to live with conditions ranging from Tourette’s syndrome to autism,, parkinsonism, musical hallucination, epilepsy and much more.

Not only has he shared stories of people he has worked with that have these diseases, but he also wrote a book called Musicophilia, where he investigates the power of music as a way to heal us. He has proven how music can animate people with Parkinson’s disease who cannot otherwise move, give words to stroke patients who cannot speak and calm and organize people whose memories are lost by Alzeihermer’s or amnesia.

As a student interested in diseases and disorders, I’m very inspired by the fact that he not become a doctor, but he found ways to share stories of people who have gone through amazing and intense experiences. I can imagine myself working with people that suffer from such diseases and writing or finding ways to share these stories with people around the world because I do believe that making people aware of these kind of experiences and diseases does make people more aware of certain disorders and may help others cope with these diseases. He has helped people overcome diseases that were once said to be incurable and has shed a light on stories that can amaze people.


An article posted on February 9th, 2012 in the Montreal Gazette by Jill Barker related to Sack’s world-changing efforts as it discussed a new way of helping kids that suffer from attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). In this article, researchers Lindsay Shaw and Alex thornton discovered that physical activity is improving the behavior of children that suffer from ADHD better than simply using Ritalin that is not 100% effective. They have found a way to improve their bevior in a new way that doesn’t consist of simply depending on Ritalin. Just like Sack’s discovery of music therapy, they both have found ways of improving the lives of people who suffer from these diseases in ways that aren’t dangerous at all.


"Is Exercise the New Ritalin? How Exercise Affects Brain Power in Kids | Montreal Gazette." Montreal Gazette Is Exercise the New Ritalin How Exercise Affects Brain Power Inkids Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2013.


"Musicophilia." Oliver Sacks MD RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.



I really like your post because it was very well written, interesting and informative! I also blog a lot about health and related topics but more specifically I blog about alternative treatments for different diseases and conditions. Most of the treatments I found revolved around new technologies so it was refreshing to read about music therapy.

I found an article by the CTV Kitchener published on April 25th2013 about the development of a vaccine at the University of Guelph the could be one step closer to curing autism. Even though the University’s research isn’t as significant as Oliver Sacks’ discovery, maybe it can lead to further discovery and finally cure autism for good.  The vaccine they developed kills off bacteria associated with gastro-intestinal problems that is a symptom many autistic people deal with. The researchers know it’s not a huge jump in medical research however it is a “step in the right direction”.

I also liked how you provided a link to an article that further improved your research on Oliver Sacks.  Have a look at my link!