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BBC Imagine “The Man Who Forgot How to Read and Other Stories”

The Man Who Forgot How to Read and Other Stories

Mark Molesworth and I worked on this series in April 2011.

Presenter Alan Yentob meets clinical neurologist and author Dr Oliver Sacks to investigate the myriad ways we experience the visual world and the strange things that can happen when our mind fails to understand what our eyes see. In the course of this investigation, Yentob tells the life story of Dr Oliver Sacks, the man who would become one of the world’s most famous scientists.

Alan delves into this world by going to meet several of the case studies from Sacks latest book, The Mind’s Eye.

He meets Stereo Sue, neurobiologist Sue Barry, who always saw the world as a flat 2D image until she suddenly acquired stereoscopic 3D vision in her late forties; Canadian crime writer Howard Engel, the man who forgot how to read, who remarkably continues to write despite a stroke that destroyed his reading ability; Chuck Close, the renowned portrait artist, who cannot recognise or remember faces and Danny Delcambre, an extraordinary and spirited man who, although having a condition which means he was born deaf and is gradually going blind, lives life to the full and uses close-up photography to record the world around him.

Often overlapping with these case studies is Sacks’ own story. Here, doctor and patient combine as he talks about his childhood, his own struggle with face blindness, and the loss he felt when eye cancer recently destroyed his 3D vision.