An anthropologist on Mars

Seven Paradoxical Tales by Oliver Sacks


An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales is a 1995 book by neurologist Oliver Sacks consisting of seven medical case histories of individuals with neurological conditions such as autism and Tourette syndrome. An Anthropologist on Mars follows up on many of the themes Sacks explored in his earlier book, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, but here the essays are significantly longer and Sacks has more of an opportunity to discuss each subject with more depth and to explore historical case studies of patients with similar symptoms.


 “If a man has lost a leg or an eye, he knows he has lost a leg or an eye; but if he has lost a self—himself—he cannot know it, because he is no longer there to know it.” 
― Oliver Sacks

Oliver Wolf Sacks, was a British neurologist, naturalist, historian of science, and author. Born in Britain, and mostly educated there, he spent his career in the United States. He believed that the brain is the "most incredible thing in the universe”. He died of cancer in 2015 but before that wrote his book Gratitude. I read that tiny little book a few months ago and it has stayed with me since. It is a few beautiful pages about life and how to think about it at the end of an interesting and successful life. It’s a great reminder to think like that about your life no matter what stage you’re at.