Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets

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“Oliver Sacks meets Stephen King”* in this propulsive, haunting journey into the life of the most studied human research subject of all time, the amnesic known as Patient H.M. For readers of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks comes a story that has much to teach us about our relentless pursuit of knowledge.

Winner of the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award • Los Angeles Times Book Prize Winner

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post • New York Post • NPR • The Economist • New York • Wired • Kirkus Reviews • BookPage


In 1953, a twenty-seven-year-old factory worker named Henry Molaison—who suffered from severe epilepsy—received a radical new version of the then-common lobotomy, targeting the most mysterious structures in the brain. The operation failed to eliminate Henry’s seizures, but it did have an unintended effect: Henry was left profoundly amnesic, unable to create long-term memories. Over the next sixty years, Patient H.M., as Henry was known, became the most studied individual in the history of neuroscience, a human guinea pig who would teach us much of what we know about memory today.

Patient H.M. is, at times, a deeply personal journey. Dittrich’s grandfather was the brilliant, morally complex surgeon who operated on Molaison—and thousands of other patients. The author’s investigation into the dark roots of modern memory science ultimately forces him to confront unsettling secrets in his own family history, and to reveal the tragedy that fueled his grandfather’s relentless experimentation—experimentation that would revolutionize our understanding of ourselves.

Dittrich uses the case of Patient H.M. as a starting point for a kaleidoscopic journey, one that moves from the first recorded brain surgeries in ancient Egypt to the cutting-edge laboratories of MIT. He takes readers inside the old asylums and operating theaters where psychosurgeons, as they called themselves, conducted their human experiments, and behind the scenes of a bitter custody battle over the ownership of the most important brain in the world.

Patient H.M. combines the best of biography, memoir, and science journalism to create a haunting, endlessly fascinating story, one that reveals the wondrous and devastating things that can happen when hubris, ambition, and human imperfection collide.

“An exciting, artful blend of family and medical history.”The New York Times

*Kirkus Reviews
 (starred review)
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About the author

Luke Dittrich is a National Magazine Award–winning journalist, and a contributing editor at Esquire. This is his first book.


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Additional Information

Publisher
Random House
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Published on
Aug 9, 2016
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Pages
480
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ISBN
9780679643807
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Medical
Medical / History
Science / Life Sciences / Neuroscience
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Wstrząsająca opowieść o cienkiej granicy między medycznym eksperymentem a zbrodnią.

„Człowiek nie jest z pewnością gorszy jako zwierzę doświadczalne, tylko dlatego że umie mówić”.

Paul Bucy, amerykański neurochirurg

Historia tego, jak nauka korzystała z nieetycznych narzędzi, jest długa. Zbrodnia często służyła rozwojowi medycyny, a medycyna czasem pomagała w zbrodni. Przejmująca książka Luke’a Dittricha podejmuje aktualny temat granic, których nauka nie powinna przekraczać, ale nieustannie robi to w imię postępu.

Henry każdego dnia zaczynał życie od nowa. Miał tylko dwadzieścia siedem lat, kiedy odebrano mu pamięć. Poddano go eksperymentalnej terapii, mającej wyleczyć epilepsję. Lekarze wycięli mu część mózgu, w wyniku czego utracił możliwość zapamiętywania i tym samym tożsamość. Przez następne kilkadziesiąt lat był tylko bezwolnym przedmiotem badań. Nawet po śmierci nie zaznał spokoju: sekcja jego mózgu była w 2006 roku transmitowana w sieci, gdzie obejrzało ją ponad 3 miliony widzów. Henry przeszedł do historii jedynie jako „Pacjent H.M.”, nie jako człowiek, a to jemu zawdzięczamy podstawy współczesnej wiedzy o mózgu. Książka Luke’a Dittricha opowiada jego historię i przywraca mu człowieczeństwo.

Bestseller „New York Timesa” uznany za jedną z najlepszych książek roku przez m.in. „The Washington Post”, „New York Post”, „Wired”, NPR, „The Economist”, „New York” i „Kirkus Reviews”.

Książka została wyróżniona PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award I Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

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