Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole
Allan Ropper, Brian David Burrell
What is it like to try to heal the body when the mind is under attack? In this gripping and illuminating book, Dr Allan Ropper reveals the extraordinary stories behind some of the life-altering afflictions that he and his staff are confronted with at the Neurology Unit of Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Like Alice in Wonderland, Dr Ropper inhabits a place where absurdities abound: a sportsman who starts spouting gibberish; an undergraduate who suddenly becomes psychotic; a mother who has to decide whether a life locked inside her own head is worth living. How does one begin to treat such cases, to counsel people whose lives may be changed forever? Dr Ropper answers these questions by taking the reader into a world where lives and minds hang in the balance.
In the hands of a lesser writer, this book might have been nothing more than a collection of colorful tales about the many ways a human brain can break down. But Dr. Ropper and Mr. Burrell manage to tell a more profound story about the value of men over machines. * New York Times * Filled with patient histories and puzzling symptoms waiting to be understood, Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole is a detective novel, and despite his flapping white coat and squeaking Crocs, Ropper is Humphrey Bogart, cerebral yet tough and blessed with a terse wit. -- Christian Donlan * New Statesman * Fascinating * Observer * An in-the-trenches exploration of the challenging world of the clinical neurologist. From the quotidian to the exotic, from the heart-breaking to the humorous, the authors present an honest and compelling look at one of medicine's most fascinating specialties. * Dr Michael Collins, author of Hot Lights, Cold Steel * Fantastic . . . This peek inside the sick brain, by a foremost neurologist, helps readers truly appreciate how calamities like brain tumors, stroke, Parkinson's, seizures and other diseases affect us. His stories are sometimes painful, sometimes heartwarming, but invariably tremendously illuminating. * Elizabeth Loftus, author of The Myth of Repressed Memory * Peppered with insights into the scientific method, emphasizing that it's not the cold, rational, Sherlock Holmes-like deductive process it's often portrayed to be. Medical writing at its best. * V. S. Ramachandran, bestselling author of The Tell-Tale Brain * Allan Ropper's new memoir, Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole, has the hard-boiled style of a Raymond Chandler novel. Like a real-life Dr House, Ropper follows hunches and has sudden startling insights. * The Times * Told in a breezy style through a series of real-life case studies, Ropper's book offers a fascinating glimpse of the ways in which our brain can go wrong. * Financial Times * Ropper charts his 40-year career using dozens of case histories: think Oliver Sacks meets Gregory House, with a sprinkling of a hypochondriac's worst nightmare. Each tale illuminates the remarkable way, not just in which the brain works, but how Ropper diagnoses what is going on. * Sunday Times * Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole tells it like it is on the front line of clinical neurology. Engagingly written, informative, often funny, it also manages to be moving without slipping into the sentimentality that too often infests medical writing... If ever anything goes wrong with my brain, I'd like a doctor like Ropper to help sort me out. -- Paul Broks * Daily Telegraph *
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