Book Review: Sack's An Anthropologist in Mars
Reviewed by Almudena (4E, 2004-5)
Oliver Sacks is a famous neurologist who writes about people with neurological disorders. His approach takes into account his patients' life in a human way. His purpose is that we learn about how these people deal with their disorders, how they fit them in their daily lives. The case of the painter who was blind to colours
Man, 65 years old
After a traffic accident, a 65-year-old painter loses his capacity to see colours. His world is in black and white. He feels his paintings belong to other people and make no sense to him any longer.
He can't imagine how to go on with his life. Everything seems dirty, nasty, discoloured, unnatural... even food! He starts to eat black & white food!, like yoghurt, rice, coffee, black olives...
As time passes by, he starts to adapt. While walking in the street, he couldn't distinguish when the traffic lights were red or green but gradually he succeeds in identifying them. After his wife classified his clothes in different wardrobes or drawers, or after putting labels in each article of clothing, he also succeeded in combining colours all right when getting dressed.
Two years after the accident, he had even developed a keen sense of evening vision. The feeling about loss and abnormality disappeared. He even began to consider that his vision was exceptionally good (?), because at that moment he was able to make out a lot of textures and structures that he couldn't make out before. He felt he had found "a new world.
Three years after the accident a doctor called him to operate him, so that he could recover from his blindness to colours, but the painter refused... At that moment, his paintings were as successful as when he was able to see all the colours.