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The Man with a Shattered World

The Man with a Shattered World

The History of a Brain Wound

A. R. Luria

Translated by Lynn Solotaroff

ISBN 9780674546257

Publication date: 04/30/1987

Russian psychologist A. R. Luria presents a compelling portrait of a man’s heroic struggle to regain his mental faculties. A soldier named Zasetsky, wounded in the head at the battle of Smolensk in 1943, suddenly found himself in a frightening world: he could recall his childhood but not his recent past; half his field of vision had been destroyed; he had great difficulty speaking, reading, and writing.

Much of the book consists of excerpts from Zasetsky’s own diaries. Laboriously, he records his memories in order to reestablish his past and to affirm his existence as an intelligent being. Luria’s comments and interpolations provide a valuable distillation of the theory and techniques that guided all of his research. His “digressions” are excellent brief introductions to the topic of brain structure and its relation to higher mental functions.


  • Zasetsky…in eloquent excerpts from a diary, comments on his struggle to recover the use of his brain… He could not even have written his journal—3,000 pages that he cannot read himself, composed with appalling effort over a quarter of a century—had he not learned to write automatically, without thinking of the process. It is a remarkable document, affecting in its simplicity, its pain, its inexorable determination.



  • A. R. Luria was Professor of Psychology at Lomonosov Moscow State University.

Book Details

  • 192 pages
  • 5-1/4 x 8 inches
  • Harvard University Press
  • Foreword by Oliver Sacks

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