Fountain House Remembers Dr. Oliver Sacks

Posted on September 2, 2015

With the recent passing of Dr. Oliver Sacks we have lost more than just a brilliant doctor and writer.  Fountain House and people living with serious mental illness everywhere have lost a friend and an advocate. 

Dr. Sacks spent many Thanksgiving holidays here at Fountain House. He related to our members as friends and felt completely at home in our community. An August 30thNew York Times article about his death was titled, “Oliver Sacks: Casting light on the interconnectedness of life.” The title of the article is an appropriate tribute to the man who embraced, celebrated, and personified the interconnectedness of humanity.

Dr. Sacks said many wonderful things about Fountain House throughout the years, and we would be remiss to not share our own memories and thoughts of him with our community.

Fountain House Member Jonathan and Dr. Oliver Sacks

“I think Dr. Sacks always felt at home at Fountain House because, like us, he refused to define people by their illnesses.  Instead, he saw the entirety of people and was a deep believer in their resilience. In fact, in one of his many acclaimed books, “An Anthropologist on Mars,” he went so far as to propose that illness “can play a paradoxical role in bringing out latent powers, developments, evolutions, forms of life that might never be seen or even be imaginable in their absence." "Sadly, when writing about his own life, Dr. Sacks admitted he had trouble with what he called “the three B’s…bonding, belonging and believing.”  I’d like to think that Fountain House was a place where he accomplished all of these.  Dr. Sacks will be deeply missed by our entire community.” – Kenn Dudek

“It was pretty impressive that Dr. Sacks chose to spend his last two Thanksgivings serving dinner to members at Fountain House. He wanted to come back to his roots and be among people who need a lot of support. Even with all of the technologies and treatments available today, Dr. Sacks felt that our model is one of the leading forms of therapy for people with serious mental illness. He loved connecting with Fountain House members and believed that mental illness doesn’t have to be all encompassing.”  - Dr. Ralph Aquila

 “So many of us who have known Oliver Sacks through his work over the decades feel as if we've lost a wise and adventurous brother who has courageously led us on journeys that were both thrilling and important. He spent his life bringing the marginalized and outcast into society, and by doing so healed us all and made us whole.”  – Jeff Aron



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