The Reel Spirit Movie Project

August Film Discussion

Oliver Sacks: His Own Life


On Thursday, Aug. 19 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Eastern, the Center’s Reel Spirit Movie Project will discuss the next film in our ongoing monthly series, Oliver Sacks: His Own Life.

The 2019 documentary film about the famous neurologist and writer, Oliver Sacks, explores his own reflections on his life and work months before his impending death in 2015. He had a complex boyhood, with a brother who had schizophrenia and a mother who was deeply ashamed of her son’s homosexuality. Oliver yearned to be a research scientist. Despite his brilliance, his quirky behavior, disorganization, and drug addiction, he was led to a change of career to clinical work with patients with brain disorders who had no apparent cures. He was able to empathize with those who had been institutionalized for decades and used the power of narrative to tell his patients’ stories and document his innovative methods to reach them.

Themes in this compelling documentary include overcoming dysfunctional family relationships, drug addiction, rejection by peers in the medical establishment, and how true compassion is at the core of the ability to heal others. Oliver Sacks: His Own Life is a real-life contemporary story of a legendary “wounded healer.” For more information about Oliver Sacks: His Own Life, see IMDb here or at this dedicated site. You can also view the trailer HERE.

The format for discussing films on the Reel Spirit Movie Project is both evocative and engaging. The facilitator for the discussion creates a guide that focuses on key themes in the film, and we send this guide to all registrants. Participants begin by reviewing the film on their own. We follow with a scheduled 2-hour facilitated discussion that the Center will lead and host through Zoom.

The facilitator for Oliver Sacks: His Own Life is geropsychologist, educator, and journalist, Dr. Paula Hartman-Stein. She and her husband visited the Asheville area for 10 years but moved permanently (with their cat, Han the Himalayan) to North Carolina from Kent, Ohio the day Ohio went into lockdown due to the pandemic. She had her own clinical practice in northeast Ohio for over 20 years and is glad to be semi-retired, living in western North Carolina. Paula was aware of some of Dr. Sacks’ discoveries and innovative approaches to patient care, but she was shocked to learn through the film the difficulties he overcame in his personal life, a true hero’s journey.

There is no charge for this event, but participants are asked to consider a donation to Center for Spiritual Wisdom, a non-profit organization. To make a donation, please go HERE to the CSW website.

To register or receive additional information, please email Cindy Decker at Registrations will be received on a first-come, first-served basis.  After registration, participants will receive information about the film and a dedicated link to join the discussion.

Stay tuned for other movie discussions planned by the Reel Spirit Movie Project, including Sound of Metal, our September selection.

photo credits: CineMaterial and IMDb

Oliver Sacks