The author of twelve books, including the bestselling Awakenings, The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat, Musicophilia, and Hallucinations, Oliver Sacks is internationally renowned for his compassionate approach to patients affected by profound neurological disorders. Yet when an accident on an uninhabited mountain in Norway leaves Dr. Sacks with a severe leg injury, he becomes the patient. During what should have been a routine recovery period, he experiences an overwhelming sensation that his injured leg is now absent from his body, and indeed from his physical awareness. In A Leg To Stand On, one of Dr. Sacks’ most personal works, this disturbing experience is the starting point of a fascinating journey through the mysteries of perception, the physical substance of our identities, and the experience of being a patient.
Medicine always claims that experience is the test of its operations. Plato therefore was right in saying that to become a true doctor, a man must have experienced all the illnesses he hopes to cure and all the accidents and circumstances he is to diagnose. … Such a man I would trust. For the rest guide us like the person who paints seas, rocks and harbors while sitting at his table and sails his model of a ship in perfect safety. Throw him into the real thing, and he does not know where to begin.