At the age of 37, Jill Bolte Taylor had reaped the benefits of a life passionately devoted to neuroscience. Motivated by her brother's struggle with Schizophrenia, Taylor often traveled to advocate for the donation of brains to science; and her work had paid off. She was successful, independent, and self-sufficient. So when she woke up on a seemingly ordinary day with a pain behind her left eye, it's little surprise that she attempted to go about her morning routine as usual. Taylor explains in detail the nuanced changes in her mental activity as her ability to grasp the world around her fades, and she slowly realizes she is having a stroke.
Taylor's narration of her memoir alternates from calm and steady to exuberant with insight. Her confidence and clarity as she recounts that morning in December of 1996 reflect her familiarity with the functioning of the brain. She articulates the gradual shutdown of her brain's systems, as her disposition transitions from indifference to panic. Taylor's description of the sensations of a brain losing its functionality is at once fascinating and utterly terrifying. To hear the terror unfold in her own voice makes this story especially intimate and moving. Taylor flickers between two contradictory modes of thinking; her left hemisphere, drowning from a ruptured AVM, tries to remind her she is suffering from stroke, while her right hemisphere, devoid of the normal chatter from the left-brain, experiences an increasing sense of nirvana and oneness with the universe. Taylor's narration reflects these opposing states of mind as her voice oscillates from a calm ambivalence to extreme distress and horror.
My Stroke of Insight is both an intense intellectual and spiritual work, with Taylor guiding her listener to a more self-conscious understanding of the way our minds construct our sense of reality. The book focuses on the morning of the stroke and the days and months following, with Taylor outlining what made her recovery possible. Undeniably the work of a scientist, Taylor remains as devoted to the study of the brain as she was before her stroke, while explaining the complexities of her subject with a clarity that makes it accessible even to those without a background in science. Her book is a rare look into stroke from the perspective of a woman uniquely qualified to describe it, and an inspirational and spiritual story of her journey to recovery. Erin Ikeler
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 opposite realties: 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 inspiring voyage out of the abyss of a wounded brain. It would take eight years for Taylor to heal completely. Because of her knowledge 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 feeling of nirvana is never more than a mere thought away. By stepping to the right of our left brains, we can all uncover the feelings 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 ...
©2008 Jill Bolte Taylor; (P)2008 Penguin Audiobooks
This was a facinating book, because for the first time I was able to understand the source of self-chatter and other symptoms of my left brain, as well as why I sometimes get the "at one with the universe" feelings that I now understand are coming from my right brain. What a gift the brain truly is, and what a wonderful book. The author's experience reminds me of Eckhardt Tolle's description of what happened to him in his first book's preface; he may have gone through a mild version of this type of stroke.
The author of this book, Dr. Taylor, is a neuroanatomist, and at the age of 37 (in 1996) she had a stroke. This book is the story of her stroke and recovery. While it was interesting, it was not for me.
She begins with two chapters of anatomy and physiology of the brain, which was starting to be a bit much for this English major (and she spoke too quickly through this section with a lot of medical jargon), but luckily she got into the story of the stroke just then. That part was fascinating. And then I was reconsidering my initial opinion that she should not have recorded her own book. When she had realized finally what was wrong with her and was struggling to get help, she managed to be both poignantly desperate, and also a little bit funny. It took her 45 minutes to remember a phone number and figure out how to work a phone (by matching the squiggles as numbers didn't mean anything to her at that point), only to discover that she couldn't speak! I really felt for her and was on the edge of my seat while she worked at getting help, as she struggled to remember to try to say, "This is Jill, I need help." Her recovery was also interesting, when her mother moved in and let her sleep and quizzed her incessantly in between. As opposed to what is commonly held to be true (anything you don't get back in the first six months is gone forever), Dr. Taylor took eight full years to recover all her knowledge, skills, and personality. Thanks to her background, she was basically a test subject as her and her mother frequently went against standard practices in her recovery. I do hope that her experiences have led to some changes both in the initial medical interventions as well as the subsequent therapy, but to my surprise she never addresses that question.
Finally, she spent a full third of the book discussing how this whole journey affected her emotionally. This section really turned me off. While I am thrilled for her that after the stroke she was no longer perpetually angry and found she could maintain that, which led to her belief that personality traits aren't ingrained in stone and can be changed, I didn't feel that merited the space or importance that it got. A single chapter would have been sufficient, not several. At this point the book changed from a memoir to more of self-help/New Age. She discussed how you can "attract" good feelings and even good events to you through the power of your mind, and how you can push away bad feelings and bad people, which is a theory I personally find highly suspect (a la The Secret) and not worthy of a physician. She's certainly welcome to believe that all she wants, but given that the first two third of this book are highly based in science, I was rather annoyed she'd give a New Age theory such prominence, as her background and the premise of this book will lend this theory more credence than I feel it deserves.
Mostly I was annoyed because I wanted to read a memoir, and it was only that for two thirds. I suppose if I had a better idea going into this book what it was going to be, I'd have liked it more. I should have done a little more homework, as I was interested in this book solely from the author's interviews on NPR, which focused on the beginning of the book. I think others who are fully aware of the mid-book transition in genre will like it more. The author's narration grew on me, and there were pluses and minuses to her reading it herself, but I think it did work well. But I was disappointed.
It is really incredible to learn about how a stroke affects the mind and body from the mind and voice of the woman affected. As someone studying medicine professionally (and for fun!) this book is excellent.
Jill Bolte Taylor does an excellent job narrating, you can hear her enthusiasm for the field of neuro-science even when it's her own brain affected!
If you are interested in learning about strokes, how they affect the patient, how they impact the family's life, this is the book for you!
Addicted to audiobooks & podcasts. 5 Stars=I Loved It, 4 Stars=Enjoyed it Thoroughly, 3=Kinda Good, 2=Bad/Boring, 1=Complete Waste of Credit
This story is full of information and inspiration - definitely something you want to check out if you know anyone who has suffered a stroke. The narration is mostly to blame for the low rating - but it's hard to fault the author for that - I imagine it would be difficult to just hand a piece of your life over to someone else to interpret. The story moves along at a good clip and the description of how she trained her brain to think around the roadblocks the stroke put in her way was interesting. The biggest thing I took away from this listen was the impact the attitudes of the hospital staff and other caregivers have on a person who is incapacitated and at their mercy - people trying to recover need to be treated with respect and compassion - not like inmates.
I LOVE the description of the temporary loss of the left brain. I love when a scientist has the ability to describe at first hand what happens in our bodies. The scientist in question is somewhat flat as a reader, but I prefer flat to melodramatic. And, of course, since she's the author, she does justice to the text.
Love listening to everything in science, astronomy, neuroscience, education and creativity.
Dr. Boylte Taylor's unique audiobook gives a first hand description of her thought process before, during and after her stroke. I got very much moved by her 20 minutes TED talk and I thought I should read her book. When I found out about the audiobook (also read by her), I thought I must purchase it and listen.
It gives an extremely detailed/vivid account about stroke and stroke victims life. At times, the details were too much for me. But, I think these might be useful insights to people who need to know more about the stoke and its recovery process.
Some of the messages that remain in my mind after listening to this talk are (1) how remarkable is human brain that is able to recover from such traumatic injury (2) the dedication and efforts of Dr. Taylor's mother to help her daughter (3) Last but not least, the singing doctor Dr. Taylor. She shows how one can get back in life after such traumatic injury due to shear will power, love of friends/family, and inner confidence.
Life will become more meaningful after you listen to this audio-book.
Though Jill doesn't have the voice of a professional reader, hearing her personal experience in her own words really helps clarify the nature and affect of the competing minds within her brain.
The later parts of the book read like a how-to for meditation in neuro-anatomical metaphor, which may or may be interesting to you. Nevertheless, well worth hearing the personal account of a luckily-prepared stroke victim.
My father had a stroke one year ago and this book was helpful to know that the brain continues to heal and grow even past when the doctors tell you that after one year it's all over. Very understandable and interesting. A fascinating discussion of the brain.
I absolutely love audiobooks. There is simply nothing like having someone read you an engrossing story; not to mention you can get things done while you listen. I always have one on the go.
Unsure only listened to it so can't compare
honest, mildly annoying
I found the author's descriptions and explanations about how her stroke affected her mind both in the moment and after during recovery particularly engrossing. As someone who is interested in meditation, calming the mind and developing strategies for improving brain function her discussion of the right and left brain and her experiences with language loss and reprogramming her brain were fascinating.
It is a quick listen but very thought provoking.
Interesting , Informing, and Insightful
The why of this review, My father, 85 years old suffered a stroke on Oct 20, 2011. He was and is still a mentally sharp individual. He was an independent business man, WW II naval veteran, hard working water well drilling contractor. With his own capital, managed his own multimillion dollar retirement and business assets, he was a self made man’s man. Shortly after the stroke my oldest sister started to exert undue influence over my mother and has convinced her that my father is basically dead, and they should not provide certain types of health care for my father. As far as they are concerned he is a vegetable .They made the comment that there was no need to waste any of ( their) money on his health care.
The other four siblings realized dad needed (help) in a big way. We also needed some answer about his health care, about his rehabilitation, and above all understanding his condition.
Thank God Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. wrote the book (My Stroke of Insight). In this book, Jill explains the experience of going thru a stroke from a Medical professional’s perspective. She also tries to understand why certain things were happening to her own brain. She also explains the recovery, the feelings and thoughts of a recovering patient, from the perceptive of a very well educated doctor. Jill would be well served to do another book; she is very well educated in the medical field. Ph. D. And it would be very helpful for her to work with a lay person to communicate and connect with the non-medical community. I strongly recommend this book; we all need to learn more about our brain and how it functions, and multi- illnesses associated with strokes. Again I want to thank, Jill for this book we look forward to learning more about your vast experiences.
PS: The simple joys of hearing my father laugh after six months brought tears to my eyes. Please read this book and share it with others, it is very helpful.
PSS: We are not done with my sister and mother.
Thank You , Larry
Robinson , IL.
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