12 Inspiring Quotes on the Human Mind from Neuroscientist and Author Oliver Sacks

Zeynep İrem Çobanoğlu

Zeynep İrem Çobanoğlu

Yeditepe Üniversitesi Psikoloji

22 September 2021

Famous neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks, who died at the age of 82 due to cancer in 2015, left behind 13 works that will be read, questioned and pondered over, such as “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat”, “Hallucinations”, “My Periodic Table” and “The Eye of the Mind”. In a speech he gave shortly after his cancer diagnosis, he said:

“I can’t pretend I’m not afraid. But my predominant feeling is gratitude. I loved and was loved; I have been given much and I have given much in return; I read and traveled and thought and wrote. I have had a relationship with the world, a very special relationship that writers and readers have.”

I have compiled various quotes from Oliver Sacks’ works and interviews for you.

1) “We are all destined to be unique individuals, to find our own way, to live our own life and die our own death—our genetic and neural destiny.”

2) “If a man loses a leg or an eye, he knows he has lost a leg or an eye; but if he loses his personality—his self—he cannot know it, because he is no longer there to know it.”

3) “We don’t just talk to tell others what we think, we talk to tell ourselves what we think. Speech is part of thought.”

4) “When we study a disease, we gain wisdom about anatomy, physiology, and biology. In examining a sick person, we access the wisdom of life.”

5) “ Conscious awakening is dreaming. But dreams are shaped by external reality.”

6) “But which is more tragic or damned, the man who knows or the one who doesn’t?”

7) “Every act of perception is to some degree an act of creativity. And every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination.”

8) “Above all, I am a sentient being, a thinking animal, living on this beautiful planet. And that in itself is a tremendous privilege and adventure.”

9) “In order to protect one’s identity and self, one needs a continuous inner story.”

10) “The miracle happened only when the opportunity was given.”

11) “In the beginning is the action.”

12) “I regret all the time I’ve wasted and am still wasting. I regret that I am painfully shy at eighty now, as I was at twenty. I regret that I cannot speak a language other than my mother tongue. I also regret that I didn’t travel enough and didn’t get to know other cultures.”

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