Oliver Sacks: I wondered whether these people, rather than being extinct volcanoes, might be dormant, and whether both the possibilities of health and of disease in a way were smoldering in them. So what would happen if you uncapped them? And also, what would it be like for someone whose life had been severely dislocated with a discontinuity — for better or worse, we live our lives from day to day and year to year. We can’t imagine this sort of suspension. What would it be like for these people if they did awaken, if they did come to? And I hesitated for two years before I tried any medication. There were astounding things. One patient especially stays in my mind. She was actually made the subject of a play by Harold Pinter. But when she came to, she was tremendously animated, but in a strange way. She had the speech and the gestures of a young woman from the 1920s. She looked like a flapper come to life. She spoke about Gershwin as if he were still alive. And I wondered where she was, and I asked her some questions. She was a very bright, quick woman, and she said, “I know the date of Kennedy’s assassination.” She said, “I know the date of Pearl Harbor.” She spoke of these things as sort of flashbulb memories, but she indicated there’d been no coherent — no sense of coherent living. She says, “I know it’s 1969,” she said, “but I feel it’s 1926. I know I’m 64, but I feel I’m 21.” And in some sense, she had dropped through a vacuum from the 1920s to the 1960s, from her 20s to her 60s. She said she didn’t like our world very much. She said that everything which had had meaning for her had vanished, and after ten days of this strange 1920-ish animation, she went back into the state she had been before, and nothing we could do. You know, this wasn’t the case for most of the patients, but I think with her, the challenge of coming into an alien world and an unfamiliar world, making a new identity, was too great. So I mean the awakening was as much an existential as a medical. On the one hand, there was all the physiological side effects of this and that. I think some of the relatively short action of the medication, and some of the way in which it activated other symptoms — well, this was one set of problems. But the other was to be reactivated, to be awakened and put back into operation after being out of operation for 40 years and feeling oneself sort of outmoded.