Patrick Wall

Patrick Wall is a professor of anatomy at University College, London. The Challenge of Pain, written with Ron Melzack, will be published by Penguin in September.

My Granny

Patrick Wall, 20 May 1982

When Darwin died a hundred years ago; he could reasonably have said, ‘Après moi, le déluge,’ because we are still awash with books and ideas for, against and about him. The issue is intellectually enthralling, moves rapidly, and is of practical importance. The Monkey Puzzle is about the origin of man, and, in particular, about the date when the line which led to us separated from that which led to chimpanzees and gorillas. There is a debate in progress as to whether this separation occurred four or 20 million years ago.

The New Phrenology

Patrick Wall, 17 December 1981

This book is about its subtitle: ‘A History of Explanations in Psychology and Physics’. To bring that history up to date, one should point out that this year’s Nobel Prizes in Medicine went to three men honoured for their contribution to our knowledge of the brain: Roger Sperry from Cal Tech and David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel from Harvard. Their discoveries are stunning, counter-intuitive and of no immediate practical consequence. They are therefore widely unknown outside their fraternity. A further reason for their obscurity is that the hard facts they have skilfully revealed appear to run exactly in the opposite direction to the requirements of those who write books about the mind. They have studied the sequence of events which link the eye to the brain. They have tapped into the mechanisms by which the light from objects in the world is related to sensations and perceptions and behaviour.

Feel the burn: pain

Jenny Diski, 30 September 1999

You may have missed out on love, transcendental oneness with the Universe, the adrenaline rush of the warrior, but you’ve had a headache or a bad back. Pain is the one engulfing,...

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