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Perry, C. (2020). River of Consciousness, by Oliver Sacks, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 2017, 256 pp.. Psychodyn. Psych., 48(1):108-111.

(2020). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 48(1):108-111

River of Consciousness, by Oliver Sacks, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 2017, 256 pp.

Review by:
Christopher Perry, M.D.

Oliver Sacks has long been one of my favorite authors due to his unique perspectives and approachable writing style. The River of Consciousness is just as engaging as the rest of his writings. The essays in The River of Consciousness were written prior to Sacks' death in 2015 and arranged and published by Kate Edgar, Daniel Frank, and Bill Hayes. Sacks begins his book by looking at consciousness not just in humans but in a wider perspective in living beings. He then focuses on consciousness in humans before looking at special topics, such as memory and scotomas.

In his first three chapters, Sacks looks at consciousness beyond humanity. He begins by writing about plants. Like me, most people do not think of plants as being conscious, and Sacks does not argue that they are; however, he looks at aspects of plant behavior that suggest rudiments of consciousness. For instance, he explores flower pollination by bees, noting that particular bees tend to be drawn to flowers of particular colors, enabling pollination across distances. He suggests this as a deliberate behavior among flowering plants.

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