Oliver Sacks, the writer that I’m profiling, is a bit of an oddball. He derived his initial inspiration to start writing during his neurological residencies years at UCLA when he was thirty years old. At the time, Sacks had become finally found himself in a position where he was comfortable taking hallucinogens, after reading extensively on the topic, when his childhood friend came to visit him. Sacks gradually enjoyed the experience more and more, even designating Sunday mornings as his drug time. At the peak of his drug use, Sacks stole morphine from his parents’ surgery closet and injected it, after which he found himself watching a miniature Battle of Agincourt on his coat. It took him an entire day to come to, which frightened him, so Sacks vowed to never take morphine again.
All this relates to Sacks’ writing career because it was during his phase of drug use that Sacks took some hallucinogen-inducing amphetamines and read an 1873 book on migraines by an Edward Liveing. This book, five hundred pages in length, so inspired Sacks that he read it in ten hours and set out to write his own book in the same manner. The book, which he enjoyed so thoroughly because the author made medicine an intensely human experience, was to be made into a more modern version with Sacks as the new Liveing. In this way, Oliver Sacks wrote his first published book, Migraines.
Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks