By Oliver Sacks

Psychology, Psychiatry


Published by Picador

Shortlist 2014

An investigation into hallucinations; auditory, visual, tactile, olfactory - their many guises, their psychological sources and their personal and cultural resonances.

Hallucinations usually imply psychosis, but there are many different types of non-psychotic hallucination caused by illness or injury, intoxication – or even just falling asleep. From the elementary geometric shapes we see when we rub our eyes to the complex swirls, blind spots and zigzags of a visual migraine, hallucination takes many forms.

In more extreme cases, hallucinations can be associated with altered states of consciousness that may come from physical or sensory deprivation, or from certain brain disorders, and these can lead to religious epiphanies and conversions or to other forms of extreme belief or behaviour.

Drawing on a wealth of clinical examples from his own patients as well as historical or literary descriptions, Oliver Sacks investigates the fundamental differences and similarities of many kinds of hallucination, what they say about the organisation and structure of our brains, how they have influenced every culture’s folklore and art, and why the potential for hallucination is present in every one of us.

Read our shortlist post about Hallucinations, written by Niall Boyce, Editor of The Lancet Psychiatry.

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