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

de Jill Bolte Taylor

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2,2631195,290 (3.75)1 / 92
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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I enjoyed the first part of this book very much. At 37, Dr. Taylor, a brain scientist, suffers a severe hemorrhagic stroke. She couldn't speak, read, process sounds or sights; she lost her ability to perceive time, space and her own body's physical limits. She talks about the morning of her stroke, and her journey to recovery, which took seven years before she felt fully recovered. As a brain scientist, she has an excellent knowledge of the brain and was able to explain what was happening to her at different stages in the process.

The last part of the book turns into a bit of a self-help manual on how to get in touch with your inner sense of well-being and peace. I'm sure many will find that helpful, but it was not what I was looking for. ( )
  LynnB | Apr 5, 2021 |
This book helped me to rethink my self-talk and my reactions to my external environment. I plan to slow down and listen to my right-brain more frequently. ( )
1 vote lynnbyrdcpa | Dec 7, 2020 |
The first part of the book, detailing her stroke and the fight back, were fascinating. The last part, lessons learned and such, was a bit on the preachy side. Then again, when you survive a stroke at the age of 37, you might be as spiritual as Dr Taylor. Could have used a bit more editing, but still an interesting listen and worth the time. ( )
  Colleen5096 | Oct 29, 2020 |
Amazing stroke recovery story. She makes a good job of describing L/R brain functions. She had hemorrhage on L, so lost speech, logic, ... With R still functioning she had amazing opportunity to experience seeing whole picture, enhanced compassion ...
I don't go along with her new age spirituality, apart from that it's a useful book showing you can recover fully from a stroke.
  GeoffSC | Jul 25, 2020 |
This book turned out to be a little different than what I was expecting, but this ended up being a good thing. After I adjusted to this difference, I enjoyed the book probably more than I would have had it been just what I imagined it would be.

Some things that struck me, in roughly chronological reading order:

1) I was not a fan of the author's voice (I listened to this on audiobook) and at first worried that this would keep me from being able to listen to the whole thing. After a while, however, the story drew me in, and Taylor's voice didn't bother me anymore.

2) If I called a doctor I'd only seen once six months ago and spoke unintelligibly, my doctor wouldn't have a clue who I was. Even if I spoke completely intelligibly, identified myself by name, and was able to get not only to a live person rather than the recording but to the doctor herself, I doubt she would have a clue who I was. Is this what doctor/patient relationships were like in the mid-90's? I don't remember it being this way, but then I spent most of the second half of the 90's uninsured. Maybe Taylor was more memorable to her doctor because she was a researcher at a nearby hospital. Maybe if I were a scientist and not a homeschooling mom I would have more chance of personal service from the medical profession. Based on my research scientist spouse's experience, this doesn't seem likely. As it stands, I just hope my life never depends on my being able to reach my doctor, much less being recognized by her.

3) The oneness, peace, and connection to the universe Taylor describes in her right-brained experience reminds me a lot of my experience with pregnancy and birth, and in particular my experience birthing my son. I wonder if for me, pregnancy and birth trigger the right hemisphere of my brain. I wonder if it does that for other women. If it does, that sure would explain a lot of my experiences both as a birthing woman and as a doula. What a difference it could make if birthing professionals and expectant parents and our culture in general could recognize this (some seem to, but they seem to be in the minority). Of course, a lot of things could change if we as a culture were better able to look at one another with honesty, empathy, and a willingness to connect even when it's difficult to do so (and even when it means we have to be willing to be wrong).

4) A little more than halfway through, the book took a rather self-helpy turn. This was alarming to me at first as I have a very low tolerance for self-help books. I like helping myself and I make a practice of assembling plans for my own self-improvement and personal growth, but I find the self-help genre nauseating. But I liked the first chapters of the book so much, I stuck with it and found that some of Taylor's insights really struck a chord with me. My favorite is probably the fact that the chemical component of any major emotional response within our brains and bodies dissipates within 90 seconds. Any remaining effect (either emotional or physical, although it's a little iffy to separate those two) is the result of our ruminating brains rehashing the initial incident and prolonging the reaction. I don't know if this is backed by research, but it's an intriguing notion and one that I've already found helpful as I bring awareness to my own emotional responses and how I choose to react to them.

5) How did Taylor support herself during the years of her recovery? Did she really continue getting a paycheck for a job she could only work for a few hours a week? Her recovery is remarkable not only for the progress she made but for how much support she had for so many years. How many people suffering from traumatic brain injury or mental illness have that level of support and advocacy? I suspect that number is very, very small, and that feels just a little depressing to me.

There were a few other things that struck me about this book, but these were the biggest ones. It wasn't what I anticipated, but it was a good read (or listen) anyway. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Jun 28, 2020 |
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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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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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