The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat

The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat Characters

Oliver Sacks

The author and narrator of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Oliver Sacks spent many years working with patients with rare neurological disorders, and his research formed the basis for the… (read full character analysis)

A. R. Luria

A. R. Luria was a Russian neuropsychologist whose research had a major influence on the career of Oliver Sacks. Like Sacks, Luria regarded it as a scientist’s duty to study a subject holistically, rather… (read full character analysis)

Sigmund Freud

Important 19th-century Viennese psychologist whose writings formed the basis for the practice of psychoanalysis, and whose theory of the unconscious is often regarded as one of the greatest milestones in the history of psychology. Although… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Purdon Martin
Neurologist who pioneered the theory that the brain integrates sensory data from the visual, proprioceptive, and vestibular systems.
Hughlings Jackson
A famous 20th century neurologist.
Kurt Goldstein
A neurologist who defined human beings by their ability to reason abstractly.
James Parkinson
The 19th century doctor who researched and later named Parkinson’s disease.
Wilder Penfield
Neurologist who researched seizures and hallucinations.
Doctor C. C. Park
A doctor who has researched ways of teaching gifted autistic children to become artists.
Martin A.
An intellectually disabled man who nonetheless has a near-perfect memory for musical history, and a deep, sophisticated appreciation for the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Mrs. B.
A patient with a cerebral tumor, who maintains an attitude of constant, maddening nonchalance, illustrating the concept of equalization.
Christina
A computer programmer who loses her proprioception.
Charles D.
A patient who suffers from tabes, and cannot walk without feeling dizzy.
Emily D.
A patient with tonal agnosia, meaning that she can’t understand emotional inflections in speech.
Stephen D.
A medical student who briefly reported a heightened sense of smell after using lots of cocaine and other drugs.
Donald
A patient who killed his child while high on PCP, and later became haunted by constant, vivid hallucinations of the act.
Jimmie G.
A patient who suffers from Korsakov’s Syndrome, meaning that he has virtually no long-term memory.
Madeline J.
A woman with cerebral palsy who reports that her hands feel “lifeless.”
John
One of “the twins,” who have phenomenal mathematical powers.
Michael
One of “the twins,” who have phenomenal mathematical powers.
Israel Rosenfield
The medical researcher who studied John and Michael in the 1960s.
José
A young autistic man who possesses an incredible talent for drawing.
Natasha K.
An elderly patient whose syphilis had the effect of making her feel younger and more energetic.
Simon K.
A patient who, like Madeline J., feeels that he can’t control his hands.
Mr. MacGregor
A Parkinson’s patient who walks with a significant lean in his body.
Miguel O.
A patient with syphilis who took Haldol to control his symptoms, sacrificing some of his energy and creativity in the process.
Mrs. O’C.
A woman whose seizures give her the ability to hear music in her head.
Mrs. O’M.
A woman whose seizures give her the ability to hear music in her head.
Bhagawhandi P.
A young Indian patient with a terminal tumor, who developed a state of eerie, nostalgic calm as she approached her death.
Dr. P.
A music teacher who suffers from a form of face blindness, meaning that he can’t even identify the faces of his oldest friends.
Stephen R.
A Patient who suffers from Korsakov’s Syndrome.
Ray
A patient with Tourette’s Syndrome who has learned to control his symptoms with the help of the drug Haldol.
Rebecca
An intellectually disabled woman who possesses a rare gift for poetic expression.
Mrs. S.
A patient who lost the ability to understand the concept of “left.”
William Thompson
A patient with Korsakov’s Syndrome, who compensates for his disorder by improvising new identities for himself.
Bob Thompson
A brother of William Thompson.
George Thompson
The brother of William Thompson and Bob Thompson.
Hildegard of Bingen
12th century European mystic who may have had seizures that allowed her to experience visions.
Kurt Gödel
20th century mathematician who posited that prime numbers could be used as markers for cities and even ideas.
Harry Truman
President of the United States from 1945 to 1953.
Johann Sebastian Bach
Famous Baroque composer whose music is often regarded as some of the greatest ever composed.
Dmitry Shostakovich
20th century Russian composer who claimed to be able to hear music in his head, perhaps because of a piece of shrapnel that was lodged in his brain.
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Great 20th century philosopher whose treatise On Certainty Oliver Sacks cites while discussing the concept of proprioception.