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A Neurological Heavyweight

November 12, 1989

I read Lee Dembart's review of Oliver Sacks "Seeing Voices" (Book Review, Sept. 24) with interest, for when Sacks first came to San Francisco from London in the early 1960s, he first wanted to meet a Ted Nolan Thompson, resident in neurology at UC San Francisco, not because of my specialty but because we were the "only two weightlifting neurologists in the world."

Whether it's involuntary movement disorders (Parkinson's or Tourette's) or agnosias or migraines or now the plight of the deaf, what I admire most about Sacks is not just his genius for getting to the roots of medical problems but his steadfast compassion for all who suffer some affliction about which the victims are in no way responsible. That makes Sacks a real doctor.

While I have not seen Oliver Sacks for nearly 20 years, I remember him as I remember a composer from the 19th-Century "era of emancipation," a kind of Johannes Brahms concerned about making life more pleasant for the human race while consistently composing and playing his "symphony of harmonious words rather than music."

TED NOLAN THOMPSON, LAGUNA BEACH

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