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My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey (2006)

by Jill Bolte Taylor

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2,3551255,351 (3.74)1 / 94
On the morning of December 10, 1996, Taylor, a brain scientist, experienced a massive stroke. She observed her own mind completely deteriorate. Now she shares her unique perspective on the brain and its capacity for recovery.

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Showing 1-5 of 122 (next | show all)
This was a very interesting read. It is a rare observation of stroke from the victim's perspective, as experienced by someone who is knowledgeable in the workings of the brain. There are some fascinating insights to be found here. The last half of the book, however, leaves the science behind and has more of a new age feel to it. ( )
  DreadedBunny | Aug 10, 2022 |
This book blew me away. For the first time, a stroke victim was able to describe in detail what it was like to rapidly lose function in the left brain hemisphere AS THE STROKE WAS HAPPENING, and then she was able to describe what it was like during the short- and long-term recovery process. And when the stroke victim is a brain scientist, the insight revealed is truly staggering. That Dr. Taylor was able to retain her memories of the stroke - before, during, and after - and regain the use of her left brain hemisphere to be able to WRITE about it in great detail years later, well, this was nothing short of a miracle.

My father suffered a hemorrhagic stroke - similar to, but not the same as, Dr. Taylor's - three years ago. I picked up this book, hoping it would give me some insight into what might have been going through his head at the time. I read the book, hoping it would give me reassurance that my mother - his full-time caregiver - was doing the right thing. I devoured the book, looking for pointers on how best to help him continue his healing process. This book did all of this and more: it gave me hope. I cannot wait to share with my father what I learned from this book and to hear from him whether he experienced some of the same thoughts and sensations that Dr. Taylor did. I cannot wait to share with my mother that she has been doing the right thing, to reassure her.

Dr. Taylor wrote this book in hopes that it would help caregivers and the medical community to better understand how to help stroke victims. I am forever grateful. ( )
  niaomiya | Aug 8, 2022 |
This book was a 4 until I reached 3/4 of the way through the book, and then the last 1/4 was so awful I docked it a star.

So the good; a facinating account of what it's like to experience and recover from a massive stroke. Very easy to read; I could have taken some more hard science but I enjoyed it.

But the last quarter of the book is rambling nonsense. TFA tries to convince us all to be more "right-brained" which I guess involves feeling "at one with universe." Personally I avoid people like that; they tend to be barefoot dudes that smoke a lot of hash. Is it a valuable experience? Maybe... but I'm going to need more convincing besides, "I felt that way when severely brain damaged and liked it!" If anything that's an anti-recommendation. ( )
  mvolz | Jul 10, 2022 |
This is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read. It's an incredible blend of science and spirituality. I loved learning about the differences in the left and right brain. I was so inspired by her courage and will to not only survive her stroke, but to completely recover and thrive because of, not in spite of it. ( )
  liannecollins | Jun 10, 2022 |
On the morningof December 10, 1996, Jill Bolte Taylor, a thirty-seven-year-old Harvard-trained brain scientist, experienced a massive stroke when a blood vessel exploded in the left side of her brain. A neuroanatomist by profession, she observed her own mind completely deteriorate to the point that she could not walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of her life, all whithin the space of four brief hours. As the damaged left side of her brain-the rational, grounded, detail-and time-oriented side-swung in and out of function, Taylor alternated between two distinct and opposited realities: the euphoric nirvana of the intuitive and kinesthetic right brain, in which she felt a sense of complete well-being and peace, and the logical, sequential left brain, which recognized Jill was having a stroke and enabled her to seek help before she was lost completely.

In My Stroke of Insight, Taylor shares her unique perspective on the brain and its capacity for recovery, and the sense of omniscient understanding she gained from this unusual and inspiriting voyage out of the abyss of a wounded brain. It would take eight years for Taylor to heal completely. Because of her knowlege of how the brain works, her respect for the cells composing her human form, and most of all an amazing mother, Taylor completely repaired her mind and recalibrated her understanding of the world according to the insights gained from her right brain that morning of December 10th.

Today Taylor is convinced that the stroke was the best thing that could have happened to her. It has taught her that the feeing of nirvana is nevermore than a mere thought away. By stepping to the right of our left brains, we can all uncover the feeings of well-being and peace that are so often sidelined by our own brain chatter. A fascinating journey into the mechanics of the human mind, My Stroke of Insight is both a valuable recovery guide for anyone touched by a brain injury and an emotionally stirring testimony that deep internal peace truly is accessible to anyone at any time.

Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., is a neuroanatomist who is affiliated with the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. She is the national spokesperson for the mentally ill at the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center (Brain Bank) and the consulting neuroanatomist fo the Midwest Proton Radiotherapy Institute (MPRI). Since 1993 she has been an active member of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). She was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2008. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

I was, by anyone's standard, no longer normal. In my own unique way, I had become severely mentally ill. And I must say, there was both freedom and challenge for me in recognizing that our perception of the external world, and our relatinship to it, is a product of our neurological circuitry. For all those years of my life, I really had been a figment of my own imagination!-from My Stroke of Insight

'(T)here is comfort in better grasping what has gone wrong and enlightenment for those around you when they grasp it too. None of us needs sympathy; what we do need is a helping hand and understanding. Someone like Taylor provides that, helping a terrible blow become far less so.'-Dick Clark, in Time magaxzine, 100 Most Influential People of 2008

'Fascinating...Bursts with hope for everyone who is brain injured (not just stroke patients) and gives medical practitioners clear, no-nonsense information about the shortcomings of conventional treatment and attitudes toward the brain injured....But to my mind, what makes My Stroke of Insight not just valuable but invaluable-a gift to every spiritual seeker and peace activist-is what I would describe as Taylor's fearless mapping of the physiology of compassion, the physiology of nirvana. This book is about the wonder of being human.'-Robert Koehler, Tribune Media Services


1 Jill's pre-stroke life
2 Simple science
3 Hemispheric asymmetries
4 Morning of the stroke
5 Orchestrating my rescue
6 My return to the still
7 Bare to the bone
8 Neurological intensive care
9 Day two: The morning after
10 Day three: G.G. comes to town
11 Healing and preparing for surgery
12 Sterotactic craniotomy
13 What I needed the most
14 Milestones for recovery
15 My stroke of insight
16 My right and left minds
17 Own your power
18 Cells and multidimensional circuitry
19 Finding yur deep inner peace
20 Tending the garden
Recommendations for recovery
Appendix A: Ten assessment questions
Appendix B: Forty things I needed most
The Harvard brain bank
  AikiBib | May 29, 2022 |
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This book is dedicated to G.G. Thank you, Mama, for helping me heal my mind. Being your daughter has been my first and greatest blessing. And to memory of Nia. There is no love like puppy love.
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Every brain has a story and this is mine.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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On the morning of December 10, 1996, Taylor, a brain scientist, experienced a massive stroke. She observed her own mind completely deteriorate. Now she shares her unique perspective on the brain and its capacity for recovery.

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