Posted by & filed under Aging Psychological Disorders, Assessment: Self-report Projective Measures, Chronic Illness, Clinical Assessment, Clinical Health Psychology, Consciousness, Health and Prevention In Aging, Health Psychology, Managing Pain, Serious Physical Illness, Stress: Coping Reducing, The Self, Uncategorized.

Description: What subjective/psychologically experiences do we associate with disease? Oliver Sacks, the deeply respected physician and professor of neurology discusses about how patients with migraines talk about the psychological experiences associated with their migraine headaches. The 81 year old Sacks goes on to talk about his own experiences with a particular palliative treatment for the metastatic cancer that is throughout his liver. If you have not read anything by Sacks, well you should, he brings medicine neurology and psychology vibrantly to life.

Source: Oliver Sacks on Feelings of Disorder (or Dis-ease) New York Time Review of Books

Date: April 23, 2015

Olver Sacks

Photo Credit: Newcastle Beach, New South Wales, Australia, 2000; photograph by Trent Parke, Magnum Photos


Much has been said, suggested and even researched about the relationship between things (cancer and other illnesses) going on in our physical body and our psychological or subjective experiences. In this article Oliver Sacks provides us with a grounding account of the subjective/psychological experiences of some of his patients struggling with migraines. He then goes on to talk about his own physical and psychological experiences dealing with a particular course of palliative (help with quality of life but not cure) treatment for terminal metastatic liver cancer. As with all of his work (find it and read it!), Sacks brings us right up to the front lines and into the lived experiences of people (in this case himself) dealing with physiological (medical) and psychological events. He provides us with MUCH to think about!

Questions for Discussion:

  1. We cannot simply describe Oliver Sacks accounts of the effects of his treatment as only psychology. What else is involved and what does it suggest about how we ought to be thinking about our biological, social and psychological experiences?
  2. What implications does Sacks’ account suggest for how medicine and psychology thinks about and becomes involved in the whole of people’s medical treatments?
  3. Outline the links between Sacks’ accounts of his Migraine patients’ experiences and his own experiences with the impacts of his palliative treatment for liver cancer?

References (Read/Watch Further):

Oliver Sacks, (2009) Ted Talk What hallucination reveals about our minds.

Sacks, O. (1970). Migraine: the evolution of a common disorder. Univ of California Press.

Sacks, O. (1990). Neurology and the soul. Fidia.

Sacks, O. (1991). Awakenings. Pan Macmillan.

Sacks, O. (1997). The island of the colour-blind: and, Cycad Island. Pan Macmillan.

Sacks, O. (1998). A leg to stand on. Simon and Schuster.

Sacks, O. (1998). The man who mistook his wife for a hat: And other clinical tales. Simon and Schuster.

Sacks, O. (2001). Uncle Tungsten: memories of a chemical boyhood. Pan Macmillan.

Sacks, O. (2006). The power of music. Brain, 129(10), 2528-2532.

Sacks, O. (2009). Seeing voices: A journey into the world of the deaf. Pan Macmillan.

Sacks, O. (2010). Musicophilia: Tales of music and the brain. Vintage Canada.

Sacks, O. (2010). The mind’s eye. Vintage.

Sacks, O. (2011). An anthropologist on Mars: Seven paradoxical tales. Pan Macmillan.