We say goodbye to polymath Oliver Sacks, who brought neurology to a wide popular audience.
In the words of Oliver Sacks, writing about his diagnosis of terminal cancer, “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 â¦ I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers. 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.”Touching tributes to Dr. Sacks have poured in from friends, colleagues, patients, and admirers of his books. Zelda Williams, daughter of Robin Williams who portrayed the Dr. Sacks-inspired character in “Awakenings,” tweeted, “Last night, we lost one of the brain’s greatest champions, as well as one of my family’s favorite humans. Thank you Oliver, for treating humans like humans, not patients, and for how much you did and will continue to do for mental awareness.”As you can see on the following slides, her sentiments are shared by those who knew Dr. Sacks and those who were inspired by his work.
“I’ll miss him, I’ll miss his humour, I’ll miss his humanity. I think he was the best friend the brain ever had.” writer and TV producer Howard Engel (friend and patient of Dr. Sacks)
“Oliver Sacks M.D., the best selling author, is an inspiring example of the type of blend between science, humanity, experience and empathy that can speak to people in a unique way, regardless of their level of education or age.” neurologist and writer Heidi Moawad, MD (from Careers Beyond Clinical Medicine )
“He’s like a combination of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Albert Schweitzer... And the amazing thing is, as big as he is and as strong as he is, he is this very gentle and compassionate man who is brilliant.” actor Robin Williams (friend and portrayer of Sacks-inspired character in “Awakenings”)
“But in Oliver’s books and essays, the humanity was immediate and intimate, coming not from sweeping generalizations or lofty pronouncements but from deep within the grain of individual experiences.” freelance science writer Philip Ball, PhD (friend of Dr. Sacks)
“He was an imp who retained a childlike wonder about the world and all of its inhabitants, whether ferns, squirrel monkeys or people. And he never lost the sense of the sheer miracle of existence.” neuroscientist and author Christof Koch, PhD (colleague and friend of Dr. Sacks)
“Oliver Sacks humanizes illnessâ¦he writes of body and mind, and from every one of his case studies there radiates a feeling of respect for the patient and for the illness.” poet, writer, chemist Roald Hoffman, PhD Nobel Prize winning chemist
“I referred many patients to Oliver for a second opinion, and the response was almost invariably the same â¦ the patient would see me a week or month later and tell me it was the most remarkable experience, asking, ‘When can I see Dr. Sacks again?’ Everyone loved him - patients, staff, colleagues.” neurologist and psychiatrist Orrin Devinsky, MD (long-time friend and colleague of Dr. Sacks)