Monday January 27, 2020

Remembering the man with no memory

Medicine, Patient Hm, By Luke Dittrich , Chatto & Windus, €25.50

Barry J Whyte

Chief Feature Writer

@whytebarry
25th September, 2016
William Beecher Scoville at the operating table Pic: ©Luke Dittrich

Luke Dittrich’s new book is not primarily about a surgeon called Walter Freeman. But as an entry-point into the story of this book, Freeman – despite being a secondary character in Patient HM – is a horrific illustration of a particular era in medical history.

In the decades after World War II, brain surgery began to make rapid, lurching leaps forward. With precious little evidence as to which parts of the brain controlled...

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