By Luke Dittrich
“Oliver Sacks meets Stephen King”* during this propulsive, haunting trip into the lifetime of the main studied human examine topic of all time, the amnesic often called sufferer H.M., a guy who eternally altered our knowing of ways reminiscence works—and whose remedy increases deeply unsettling questions about the human fee of medical development. For readers of The Immortal lifetime of Henrietta Lacks comes a narrative that has a lot to coach us approximately our relentless pursuit of knowledge.
*Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
In 1953, a twenty-seven-year-old manufacturing facility employee named Henry Molaison—who suffered from serious epilepsy—received a thorough re-creation of the then-common lobotomy, concentrating on the main mysterious buildings within the mind. The operation did not put off Henry’s seizures, however it did have an unintentional impact: Henry was once left profoundly amnesic, not able to create long term stories. Over the subsequent sixty years, sufferer H.M., as Henry used to be recognized, grew to become the main studied person within the historical past of neuroscience, a human guinea pig who could train us a lot of what we all know approximately reminiscence today.
Patient H.M. is, every now and then, a deeply own trip. Dittrich’s grandfather was once the bright, morally advanced health practitioner who operated on Molaison—and hundreds of thousands of alternative sufferers. The author’s research into the darkish roots of contemporary reminiscence technological know-how finally forces him to confront unsettling secrets and techniques in his circle of relatives historical past, and to bare the tragedy that fueled his grandfather’s relentless experimentation—experimentation that might revolutionize our knowing of ourselves.
Dittrich makes use of the case of sufferer H.M. as a place to begin for a kaleidoscopic trip, one who strikes from the 1st recorded mind surgical procedures in historic Egypt to the state-of-the-art laboratories of MIT. he's taking readers contained in the outdated asylums and working theaters the place psychosurgeons, as they known as themselves, performed their human experiments, and behind the curtain of a sour custody conflict over the possession of an important mind within the world.
Patient H.M. combines the simplest of biography, memoir, and technological know-how journalism to create a haunting, perpetually attention-grabbing tale, person who finds the wondrous and devastating issues that could take place whilst hubris, ambition, and human imperfection collide.
Praise for Patient H.M.
“Patient H.M. tells some of the most attention-grabbing and stressful tales within the annals of drugs, weaving in ethics, philosophy, a private saga, the background of neurosurgery, the mysteries of human reminiscence, and an exploration of human ego.”—Sheri Fink, M.D., Pulitzer Prize winner and writer of Five Days at Memorial
“Dittrich explores the bounds of technological know-how and the brain. within the method, he rescues an iconic existence from oblivion. Dittrich is definitely acutely aware that whereas we're the sum of what we may perhaps take into accout, we’re additionally on the mercy of what we will be able to overlook. this is often vintage reporting and myth-making on the related time.”—Colum McCann, writer of Let the good global Spin
“This e-book succeeds on each point: as a clean examine the main recognized sufferer in clinical background, as an exposé of our darkish heritage of psychiatry and neurosurgery, and, such a lot powerfully, as a deeply own research into the author’s earlier. And but it’s nonetheless a page-turner that reads like a thriller.”—Susannah Cahalan, writer of Brain on Fire
“It felt as though I learn this e-book in a single breath. Patient H.M. is an engaging, strong research, a matryoshka doll of nested tales concerning the prior and current, remembering and forgetting.”—Michael Paterniti, writer of The Telling Room
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Extra info for Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets
What I could have been…I dreamed of Pennsylvania. I dreamed of being a doctor. A brain surgeon. And it was all quick. Flashlike, being successful. ” It’s doubtful that Henry ever shared my grandfather’s aspirations. Instead he probably just imagined himself into his shoes. Even from the depths of his perpetual hypnopompic murk, some part of Henry saw things clearly enough to know that the nearsighted child of an electrician and a housekeeper would have had trouble pursuing that particular goal.
Henry Gustave Molaison was born in Manchester, Connecticut, on February 26, 1926. Two twenty-six, twenty-six. “ ’Least it’s easy enough to remember,” he often told the scientists with a smile. They prodded him for his birth date over and over, sometimes five, six, seven times during a single session, and though he never remembered the previous time they’d asked him, the correct answer always came tumbling out intact: two twenty-six, twenty-six. Other questions had less consistent answers. ” “Well, gee,” Henry said.
That or magic. My grandfather had appreciated the totem’s beauty but was unsentimental about its emotions. When he brought it home, he had someone shellac it before he hung it on the wall. It never cried again. Hanging on a wall near the front door was something that at first glance looked like another piece of tribal art. It was made of metal, had a green patina, was about eight inches tall. Its top and bottom both had similar half-moon shapes, though the top had a face carved into it, and the bottom, which was sharpened to a razor’s edge, did not.
Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets by Luke Dittrich