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Book review

Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole

Extraordinary Journeys into the Human Brain

by Allan H. Ropper

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This is a fascinating behind the scenes peek into the neurology unit at Harvard Medical School, and the work there of Dr. Allan Ropper. It’s about real lives, and it’s all the more poignant for that – from people diagnosed with ALS, to minute brain injuries that cause bizarre behaviours, any number of the extremes that we could each fall into, that are ultimately caused by mis-wirings, mis-firings, or damage to our brains.

At ever turn, Dr. Ropper appears knowledgeable, intuitive, willing to listen, and empathic. These are real people he’s talking to, not anonymous patients, and his care and attention to detail comes across at every turn.

If you liked “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat”, there are many more such stories in here. But ultimately, for me, it was the humanity that came across – of both the author, and, ultimately, of his patients. We are all a ticking clock of immense complexity, and if dust bunnies stick a cog or two in all of us, the it’s just luck, not our moral right, that means we can still scrape through.

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