Truth definitely is stranger than fiction

Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness & Family Secrets  - Luke Dittrich

This is a non-fiction book about Patient H.M., whose name was Henry Molaison. It’s a tragic story of a man used as a human guinea pig for decades.  He was only 27 years old when he received a radical new lobectomy to cure him of epilepsy, which left him with short-term amnesia.  He then became a live research study for the rest of his life, until his death at age 82.  Interestingly, the author of this book is the grandson of William Beecher Scoville, the man who performed the lobectomy on Henry.  Dr. Scoville went on to perform surgery on thousands of other patients.  As the author delves into the work of his grandfather, he learns of his own family’s dark secrets of madness.  And last but not least, there’s even a battle for poor dead Henry’s brain and who is belongs to.


This non-fiction book reads like a horror story. It not only covers the story of Henry Molaison but it also tells of the beginnings of studies on the human brain in ancient times, takes you into insane asylums when they were at their worst with patients being tortured in the name of a cure and tells of the horrendous experiments done by the Nazis.  It’s an interesting book but tough to read.  The author doesn’t hold back anything and explicitly details the experiments and surgeries performed.


Luke Dittrich has written a very brave and personal book. He has turned Patient H.M. from a research object to a human being.  He bares the ruthlessness of the scientific world in this well-researched and humane study of medical research.


This book was given to me by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.