"The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" e.
Dr.Oliver Sacks, page.8
Dr P. was a musician of distinction, well-known for many
years as a singer, and then at the local School of Music, as a teacher. It was
here, in relation to his students, that certain strange problems were first
observed. Sometimes a student would present himself, and Dr.P would not
recognise him. Not only did Dr.P. fail to see faces, but he saw faces when there
were no faces to see: Magoo-like, when in the street, he might pat the heads of
water-hydrants and parking-meters, taking these to be the heads of children.
Dr.P. consulted an ophthalmologist, who examined his eyes closely. ´There is
nothing the matter with your eyes, but there is trouble with the visual parts of
your brain. You must see a neurologist.´And so, as a result of this referral,
Dr.P. came to me.
It was while examining his reflexes - that the first
bizarre experience occurred, I had taken off his left shoe and scratched the
sole of his foot with a key - a frivolous-seeming but essential test of a reflex
- and then, excusing myself to screw my ophthalmoscope together, left him to put
on the shoe himself. To my surprise, a minute later, he had not done this.
´Can I help?´ I asked.
´Help what? Help whom?´
´Help you put on your shoe.´
´Ách,´ he said, ´I had forgotten the shoe´, adding
sotto voce, ´The shoe? The shoe?´ He seemed baffles.
´Your shoe, ´I repeated. ´Perhaps you´d put it on.´
He continued to look downwards, though not at the shoe,
with an intense but misplaced concentration. Finally his gaze settled on his
foot: ´That is my shoe, yes?´
Did I mis-hear? Did he mis-see?
´My eyes,´he explained, and put a hand to his foot. ´This
is my shoe, no?´
´No, it is not. That is your foot. There is your shoe.´
´Ah! I thought that was my foot.´