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Oliver Sacks Celebrates His 80th Birthday

As world-renowned British neurologist Oliver Sacks celebrates his 80th birthday on 9 July, he remains one of the most prolific names in his field. Web of Stories is proud to present a range of insightful recordings as Sacks recounts memories of his life and work.

London, United Kingdom, July 10, 2013 --( The British doctor, referred to as "the poet laureate of medicine" by The New York Times, is best known for his collections of neurological case histories. Awakenings (1973), his book about a group of patients who had survived the great encephalitis lethargica epidemic of the early 20th century, inspired the 1990 Academy Award-nominated film starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams. Sacks went on to author many more books including the best-selling The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat (1985), Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (2007) and The Mind’s Eye (2010).

You can discover more about the man behind such groundbreaking work by watching over 300 recordings of him sharing memories of his childhood, family and work, including his experiences of boarding school, his doctor parents and having WH Auden as a mentor: "He wrote a lovely review of Migraine and I felt, in a way, that this was the first time that a... someone of grand powers had taken notice of me."

Despite his unquestionable success, he admits to feeling out of his depth intellectually and struggling at university. He also talks of his "disastrous" year in neuropathology and neurochemistry: "I screwed the oil immersion objective of the microscope through several priceless slides. I lost a sample which I’d spent 10 months preparing, a sample of myelin from nerve sheaths, and, finally, I got some food in the ultracentrifuge… basically they threw me out. They said, ‘Sacks, you are a menace. Why don’t you go and see patients – you’ll do less harm.’ And this was sort of the ignoble beginning of a clinical career."

He also opens up about his nearly fatal experience with drugs: "When I came to New York I was dangerously drug-addicted. Perhaps addiction isn’t... isn't the right word, but I would take huge doses of amphetamine every weekend, and these were potentially fatal doses. I sort of specialised in overdoses... I had a sudden sober moment on New Year’s Eve in '65; I looked at myself in the mirror and I said, ‘Oliver, you will not see another New Year’s Day unless you get help. There has to be some intervention’."

And of course, no recordings of Sacks would be complete without his memories of the pivotal work which led him to write Awakenings: "These were people who had been almost inanimate for 30 or 40 years, who had burst into explosive life."

All of these video recordings, and countless others, can be watched with fully searchable transcripts. All Web of Stories videos are easy to share with friends and colleagues, and may be embedded into personal blogs and websites.
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Web of Stories Ltd
Grazyna Dobosz
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