Patient H.M.

A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets
Author(s): Luke Dittrich
Original Publish Date: Aug 09, 2016
eAudio - unabridged
Audio (14.58 hours)
Product Number: Z100100613
Released: Aug 09, 2016
Business Term: Purchase
ISBN: #9780147523044
Narrator/s: George Newbern
Publisher: Books on Tape
Please log in to view pricing


"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)

All formats/editions

Author(s): Luke Dittrich
Product Number EB00619269
Released: Aug 09, 2016
Business Term: 2 Year
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: #9780679643807

Professional reviews

"George Newbern certainly has his work cut out for him in this sprawling investigation of the world of psychosurgery, memory science, and mental health treatment. The author tells the stories of Henry Molaison--Patient H.M.--who received a radical lobotomy in an attempt to cure his debilitating seizures--and his surgeon, William Scoville, Dittrich's grandfather. After the surgery, Henry couldn't form any new memories, and he became the most studied memory science patient of the 1950s. Newbern's delivery is warm but unhurried and seems untroubled by the medical, psychological, and scientific terminology. Dittrich's descriptions of mental health treatment that lack both informed consent or any scientific theory or method--such as extreme cold and heat treatments, shock treatment, and lobotomies (performed mostly on women)--are both fascinating and horrific. A.B. © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine"