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

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

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Synopsis

In the summer of 1953 maverick neurosurgeon William Beecher Scoville performed a groundbreaking operation on a twenty-seven-year-old epileptic patient named Henry Molaison. The operation failed to eliminate Molaison's intractable seizures, but it did have an unintended effect: Henry was left profoundly amnesic, unable to create long term memories. The story of Patient H.M., as he came to be known, is the story of how we came to understand memory, and better understand ourselves. Scoville's grandson, award-winning journalist Luke Dittrich, takes us on a journey through the history of neuroscience, from the first brain surgeries in ancient Egypt to the fraught debate between surgeons over lobotomy operations on the twentieth century; from the gleaming laboratory analysing Molaison's disembodied brain, to the archives of the decrepit New-England asylum where his grandfather first developed a taste for human experimentation.

Dittrich's compelling, kaleidoscopic investigation confronts unsettling secrets in his own family history, and reveals how the bright future of modern neuroscience has dark roots in the forgotten history of psychosurgery, raising ethical questions that echo into the present day.

Philosophy, Psychology & Social SciencesPsychologyCognition & cognitive psychologyMemoryScience & MathematicsScience: general issuesPopular science Publisher: Vintage Publishing Publication Date: 11/08/2016 ISBN-13: 9780701187132  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
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Luke Dittrich has been working as a journalist since 1997, and his on-the-job experiences have included running a marathon in Antarctica and walking 340 miles along the United States/Mexico border. He is a contributing editor at Esquire, and his articles have appeared in a variety of anthologies, including Best American Crime Writing, Best American Travel Writing, and Best American Science and Nature Writing. A story he wrote about the survivors of a devastating Missouri tornado won the 2012 National Magazine Award for feature writing. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and this is his first book.

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