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Awakenings--which inspired the major motion picture--is the remarkable story of a group of patients who contracted sleeping-sickness during the great epidemic just after World War I. Frozen for decades in a trance-like state, these men and women were given up as hopeless until 1969, when Dr. Oliver Sacks gave them the then-new drug L-DOPA, which had an astonishing, explosive, "awakening" effect. Dr. Sacks recounts the moving case histories of his patients, their lives, and the extraordinary transformations which went with their reintroduction to a changed world.
time, and in either case ‘feed them’ into some internal projector, where they become activated and ‘real,’ one at a time in their proper sequence. Normally, this proceeds correctly and easily; but in certain conditions, it would seem, our ontological moments may be fed to us in the wrong order, so that moments which are chronologically ‘past’ or ‘future’ get ectopically displaced, and presented to us as utterly convincing (but inappropriate) ‘nows.’ Somewhat allied hypotheses (of defective or
first inkling of the nature of ontological or ‘inner’ space in these patients; and in all of us. This return-to-oneself, resipiscence, ‘rebirth,’ is an infinitely dramatic and moving event, especially in a patient with a rich and full self, who has been dispossessed by disease for years or decades (e.g. Hester Y.). Furthermore, it shows us, with wonderful clarity, the dynamic relation of sickness to health, of a ‘false self’ to the real self, of a disease-world to an optimum-world. The automatic
older and frailer, they could look forward to excursions, day-trips, and summer-camps. In the past ten years, and especially the last three years, almost all this has changed. The hospital has assumed somewhat the aspect of a fortress or prison, in its physical appearance and the way it is run. A strict administration has come into being, rigidly committed to ‘efficiency’ and rules; ‘familiarity’ with patients is strongly discouraged. Law and order have been ousting fellow-feeling and kinship;
terms for abnormalities of muscle-tone and movement, and thus including such disorders as Parkinsonism, athetosis, torticollis, etc. ECHOLALIA. The forced repetition of someone’s words again and again; palilalia, similarly, is the repetition of one’s own words, phrases or sentences; echopraxia and palipraxia are forced repetitions of movements or actions. Such symptoms are common in catatonia and are analogous to catalepsy (which is a forced repetition or echoing of postures). EMPROSTHOTONOS.
(‘crises of fixed regard’) which would suddenly arrest her, and hold her ‘in a sort of trance state’ for a few minutes. Her bulimia and inversion of sleep-rhythm became less marked after 1932–3, but her other symptoms have gradually worsened over the past forty years. Miss A. was able to continue working in a clerical capacity until 1935, and subsequently lived at home with her mother – apart from a number of brief hospital admissions – until she entered Mount Carmel Hospital in 1958. Miss A.