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Tourette Syndrome in “A Surgeon’s Life” by Oliver Sacks Essay

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Updated: Jan 19th, 2021

A Surgeon’s Life is a medical case history from An Anthropologist on Mars book written by neurologist Oliver Sacks. The story presents a fiftyish, soberly dressed in a black suit surgeon suffering from Tourette syndrome. At the beginning of the history, the author describes the “disease of disinhibition”: it may occur in every culture and every age, “characterizing by numerous vocal or physical tics and cases of grimacing, of barking and twitching, of unconscious cursing, or even blaspheming” (Sacks 1). “It is necessary for people who suffer Tourette syndrome to be taught how to handle the often disease symptoms such as anger, embarrassment, and stress,” states Olive (8).

However, the mental disorder may sometimes paradoxically influence a person by revealing his latent powers, developments, and advantages that might never be discovered or even be imagined. For instance, some scientists consider that Mozart and Samuel Johnson could have had Tourette’s syndrome, that Dostoyevsky and van Gogh had temporal lobe epilepsy. Thus, Mr.Bennet is an excellent surgeon and driver, at the same time he is denting and battering the refrigerator door. “He will go far if he does not go too far,” wrote his schoolteacher (Sacks 28).

If I needed a surgery one day and had good responses from his patients, perhaps, I would go to Dr. Bennett because he regularly performs surgery. In spite of his condition manifesting itself in spontaneous “involuntary movements and behavior, Dr. Bennett has graduated from medical school, made a family, and knew how to fly a plane” (Paul 2). Probably, it was hard work with his illness that helped him to become a perfect doctor. Regardless, we should not perceive him with prejudice or disapproval, as all men are created equal.

Works Cited

Olive, M. Foster. Tourette Syndrome. New York, NY: Chelsea House, 2010. Print.

Paul, Annie Murphy. “Oliver Sacks’s New Case Study: Himself.” The Washington Post 17 May 2015. Web.

Sacks, Oliver. An Anthropologist on Mars. Sydney: Picador, 1995. Print.

Sacks, Oliver. On the Move: A Life. New York: Knopf, 2010. Print.

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"Tourette Syndrome in "A Surgeon's Life" by Oliver Sacks." IvyPanda, 19 Jan. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/tourette-syndrome-in-a-surgeons-life-by-oliver-sacks/.

1. IvyPanda. "Tourette Syndrome in "A Surgeon's Life" by Oliver Sacks." January 19, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/tourette-syndrome-in-a-surgeons-life-by-oliver-sacks/.


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IvyPanda. "Tourette Syndrome in "A Surgeon's Life" by Oliver Sacks." January 19, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/tourette-syndrome-in-a-surgeons-life-by-oliver-sacks/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Tourette Syndrome in "A Surgeon's Life" by Oliver Sacks." January 19, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/tourette-syndrome-in-a-surgeons-life-by-oliver-sacks/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Tourette Syndrome in "A Surgeon's Life" by Oliver Sacks'. 19 January.

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