As both a physician and as a writer, Oliver’s two great themes were identity and adaptation. He practiced what might be called the medicine of friendship, showing genuine interest and respect to people who are often shunned. This was the therapeutic intervention when neurology lacked effective pills or procedures.
Illness, he made plain, need not rob us of our essential selves—and this was something he exemplified in his final months, as a he continued to write remarkable essays even as cancer began to sap his strength and overwhelm him.
"I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. 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."
Oliver Sacks Feb. 19, 2015, New York Times
Oliver Sacks passed away on Aug. 30, 2015.
Dr. Oliver Sacks outside his childhood home, in 1986.