My Stroke of Insight

 
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A brain scientist's journey from a debilitating stroke to full recovery becomes an inspiring exploration of human consciousness and its possibilities

On the morning of 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 within 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 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 testimony that deep internal peace truly is accessible to anyone, at any time.

Questions for Jill Bolte Taylor

Amazon.com: Your first reaction when you realized what was happening to your body was one you would expect: "Oh my gosh, I'm having a stroke!" Your second, though, was a little more surprising: "Wow, this is so cool!" What could be cool about a stroke?

Taylor: I grew up to study the brain because I have a brother who is only 18 months older than I am. He was very different in the way he perceived experiences and then chose to behave. As a result, I became fascinated with the human brain and how it creates our perception of reality. He was eventually diagnosed with the brain disorder schizophrenia, and I dedicated my career to the postmortem investigation of the human brain in an attempt to understand, at a biological level, what are the differences between my brain and my brother?s brain. On the morning of the stroke, I realized that my brain was no longer functioning like a "normal" brain and this insight into my brother's reality excited me. I was fascinated to intimately understand what it might be like on the inside for someone who would not be diagnosed as normal. Through the eyes of a curious scientist, this was an absolutely rare and fascinating experience for me to witness the breakdown of my own mind.

Amazon.com: What did you learn about the brain from your stroke and your recovery that your scientific training hadn't prepared you for?

Taylor: My scientific training did not teach me anything about the human spirit and the value of compassion. I had been trained as a scientist, not as a clinician. I can only hope that we are teaching our future physicians about compassion in medicine, and I know that some medical schools, including the Indiana University School of Medicine, have created a curriculum with this intention.

My training as a scientist, however, did provide me with a roadmap to how the body and brain work. And although I lost my left cognitive mind that thinks in language, I retained my right hemisphere that thinks in pictures. As a result, although I could not communicate with the external world, I had an intuitive understanding about what I needed to do in order to create an environment in which the cells in my brain could be happy and healthy enough that they could regain their function. In addition, because of my training, I had an innate trust in the ability of my brain to be able to recover itself and my mother and I respected the organ by listening to it. For example, when I was tired, I allowed my brain to sleep, and when I was fresh and capable of focusing my attention, we gave me age-appropriate toys and tools with which to work.

Amazon.com: Your stroke affected functions in your left brain, leaving you to what you call the "la-la land" of your right hemisphere. What was it like to live in your right brain, and then to rebuild your left?

Taylor: When the cells in my left brain became nonfunctional because they were swimming in a pool of blood, they lost their ability to inhibit the cells in my right hemisphere. In my right brain, I shifted into the consciousness of the present moment. I was in the right here, right now awareness, with no memories of my past and no perception of the future. The beauty of La-la land (my right hemisphere experience of the present moment) was that everything was an explosion of magnificent stimulation and I dwelled in a space of euphoria. This is great way to exist if you don't have to communicate with the external world or care whether or not you have the capacity to learn. I found that in order for me to be able to learn anything, however, I had to take information from the last moment and apply it to the present moment. When my left hemisphere was completely nonfunctional early on, it was impossible for me to learn, which was okay with me, but I am sure it was frustrating for those around me. A simple example of this was trying to put on my shoes and socks. I eventually became physically capable of putting my shoes and socks on, but I had no ability to understand why I would have to put my socks on before my shoes. To me they were simply independent actions that were not related and I did not have the cognitive ability to figure out the appropriate sequencing of the events. Over time, I regained the ability to weave moments back together to create an expanse of time, and with this ability came the ability to learn methodically again. Life in La-la land will always be just a thought away, but I am truly grateful for the ability to think with linearity once again.

Amazon.com: What can we learn about our brains and ourselves from your experience, even if we haven't lived through the kind of brain trauma you have?

Taylor: I learned that I have much more say about what goes on between my ears than I was ever taught and I believe that this is true for all of us. I used to understand that I had the ability to stop thinking about one thing by consciously choosing to preoccupy my mind with thinking about something else. But I had no idea that it only took 90 seconds for me to have an emotional circuit triggered, flush a physiological response through my body and then flush completely out of me. We can all learn that we can take full responsibility for what thoughts we are thinking and what emotional circuitry we are feeling. Knowing this and acting on this can lead us into feeling a wonderful sense of well-being and peacefulness.

Amazon.com: You are the "Singin' Scientist" for Harvard's Brain Bank (just as you were before your stroke). Could you tell us about the Brain Bank (in song or not)?

Taylor: There is a long-term shortage of brain tissue donated for research into the severe mental illnesses. Most people don?t realize that when you sign the back of your license as an organ donor, the brain is not included. If you would like to donate your brain for research, you must contact a brain bank directly. There is also a shortage of "normal control" tissue for research. The bottom line reality is that if there were more tissue available for research, then more scientists would be dedicating their careers to the study of the severe mental illnesses and we would have more answers about what is going on with these disorders. The numbers of mentally ill individuals in our society are staggering. The most serious and disabling conditions affect about 6 percent--or one in 17--adults and 9-13 percent of children in the United States. Half of all lifetime conditions of mental illness start by age 14 years, and three-fourths by age 24 years.

For more information about brain donation to the Harvard brain bank, please call 1-800-BRAINBANK or visit them at: www.brainbank.mclean.org

If you would like to hear me sing the brain bank jingle, please visit www.drjilltaylor.com!



"A brain scientist's journey from a debilitating stroke to full recovery becomes an inspiring exploration of human consciousness and its possibilitiesOn the morning of 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 within 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 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 testimony that deep internal peace truly is accessible to anyone, at any time."

Customer Reviews:

  • Great book!
    I haven't read all of it, but I like what I've read so far! Great insight to how the brain works during a stroke! ...more info
  • A Stroke of Insight
    As a yoga instructor, therapist, educator I have recommended this as a must read to my colleagues. Ann's experience has shed light on what our yogic journey is all about....more info
  • Stroke of Insight
    This is a fascinating book, which I was eager to read after seeing an article by the author in Scientific American. However, around chapter 15 it begins to sound repetitive and as if she is trying to fill extra pages with...whatever. The tone turns preachy and leaves science behind. However, still worth it up to that point....more info
  • Stroke of Insight - audio book
    The book is excellent and packed with information. It is presented in a logical, easy to understand format and Jill Bolte Taylor's voice makes listening pleasureable. She manages to convey the medical information well and her description of what happened to her is facinating to hear in her voice....more info
  • Fascinating -- and frustrating, too
    You couldn't invent a more interesting premise: Dr. Taylor, a brain scientist, has a major stroke and goes through years of rehabilitation after the left hemisphere of her brain is severely damaged. She ultimately recovers and records her detailed memories of the stroke and its aftereffects.

    Dr. Taylor has given a talk on this subject at a TED Conference -- if you go to that conference's website, you can find the video.

    This is what drew me to reading My Stroke of Insight, and the book does deliver on its promise before it veers off into territory that I couldn't quite appreciate.

    Dr. Taylor begins with some basic, fundamental brain science, to set the scene. It's written to be understandable to the layperson, and succeeds on that account. She then describes the day of her stroke, combining recollections of her experience with reminders of the science behind the events that occurred.

    This is fascinating stuff, allowing us to satisfy our curiosity and learn something at the same time.

    Then, Dr. Taylor spends the rest of the book sharing her recovery experience, including the epiphany that she had as a result of the stroke. She explains that her damaged left hemisphere gave her right hemisphere a chance to flourish, and thus taught her the value of her right hemisphere. She contrasts her blissful experience of right-brained living with our culture's emphasis on the left hemisphere's reason, task-orientation and linear thinking.

    She has a point -- but I didn't really warm up to the feeling that I was reading a self-help book with no clear path to actually helping one's self! This part of the book features too much repetition, and too many shiny promises of bliss awaiting us, if we only knew how to get there. Short of having a stroke, all we get is advice that amounts to: meditate, and tell your left hemisphere to be quiet. Prune it back. It sounds good in theory, but this is slippery stuff.

    I recommend this book for its unique look into how our brains work and what happens when they go wrong. Just know, going in, that you may or may not appreciate the unusual combination of science, memoir and self-help. ...more info
  • Valuable spiritual awakening
    I would agree with other reviewers that the value of this book is in the author's "spiritual awakening." While I also find her descriptions too New Agey for my taste, I found myself envious of her new-found ability to turn off her inner critical and judgmental voices and stay in the moment with joy and gratefulness. Christians (and adherents to other faiths, I imagine) are forever trying to get to that place. I, for one, find it nearly impossible.

    I have to commend the author for taking away valuable life lessons from her medical emergency, unlike Amy Silverstein in her book Sick Girl. I, too, had a medical emergency this past year and was surprised and relieved to find that feeling close to death was not the entirely terrifying experience I expected. I had feelings of regret, but found I was not afraid of what was to come. The memory of it has provided me with courage to face the future, knowing the end may be more bearable than I ever imagined. In my way of thinking about it, which may differ from this author's, no matter how dreadful our end-of-life experiences may be, God is merciful. ...more info
  • My Stroke of Insight
    My daughter-in-law had a stroke and this was a very good book to give me an idea of what she was going through, as well as Assessment questions and a list of things she most needed during recovery....more info
  • Could Have Been A Lot Better
    This personal account of a brain scientist having a stroke bristled with promise. Alas, I found it lacking in many areas. Not to take anything away from the author, but I feel her editor should have demanded a much better book. The most compelling part of the book was early on, when Dr. Taylor was having the stroke. But, in short order, the book lost something. For me, the author did not do a very good job of describing her recovery. By that, I mean that she made confusing and contradictory statements. For example, she described how she could not understand words spoken to her, but then, like a day later, she implies that she COULD understand words. And her constant refrain of "being one with the universe" may have been true, but she did not effectively convey to the reader just what that felt like. Did she feel omniscent? Did she feel she was part of a global family? I didn't get it. And, sadly, I found the last third of the book little more than a patronizing description of New Age gobbledygook. I'm not questioning her motives, her suffering, her insight or her guts. I just thought the book could have been much much better....more info
  • "Okay" But, not great...
    My Stroke of Insight is a first person account of a neuroscientist's left hemisphere stroke. The opening chapters of the book are devoted to initiating the non-scientist reader into the basics of brain science so that they may fully appreciate the proceeding story. I found the introductory chapters and the narrative to be entertaining and interesting although together they only constituted roughly half of the book.

    The following half quickly changed gears into more of a "self-help" book about finding your inner peace, being one with the universe and the like. Truthfully, after reading this book I would be hard pressed to shelf it as either medical lit. or science. Instead, I would probably put it over in the new age / self-help category.

    Notwithstanding, its a well written book. I find the first half entertaining but, I don't entirely buy it. My education is in both psychology and chemistry and I find it hard to believe that this first-person minute-by-minute account of her experiencing the stroke is completely accurate. However, I do acknowledge that the book is insightful and could be a real inspiration for stroke survivors, their families and loved ones. ...more info
  • Read the book--skip the audiobook CDs
    I checked this audiobook out of the library; it's one of several about the brain that I've "read" lately in the car. This is a very valuable book, primarily for the insights it provides into what having a stroke can be like and what sorts of caregiving can be especially helpful. Unfortunately, the book is also quite repetitive; at times I thought I might have stuck in the wrong CD by mistake, because I was sure I'd heard the same thing before--but no. The worst thing about this particular version of the book, though, is the reader, who is also the author. I don't know why the publisher allowed someone who wasn't an actor or a particularly skilled reader to do the audiobook--perhaps to show how much the author had recovered from her stroke. But listening to her relatively emotionless, flat delivery hour after hour really grated on me. True, I could have returned the audiobook and put a hold on the regular copy--but I would have had to wait a lot longer. In retrospect, though, that's what I should have done, because the reading bothered me the entire time, and this really is a good, worthwhile book. If it weren't for the reader and the repetitiousness, I'd give it 5 stars--very absorbing (and inspiring) reading for anyone interested in the brain, strokes, or caregiving. ...more info
  • Not to Be Confused with Being a Spiritual Leader or Theological Expert
    Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. provides a phenomenal account of her stroke and her recovery. For patients, families, and health care providers, the best parts of "My Stroke of Insight" are certainly Dr. Bolte Taylor's two appendices: "Ten Assessment Questions" and "Forty Things I Needed the Most." It would be a mistake, however, to confuse Dr. Bolte Taylor with being a spiritual leader or a theological expert.

    In regard to religion and spirituality, Dr. Bolte Taylor places an extremely strong emphasis on altered states of consciousness:
    * "Swathed in an enfolding sense of liberation and transformation, the essence of my consciousness shifted....I think the Buddhists would say I entered the mode of existence they call Nirvana" (p. 49). * "My entire self-concept shifted as I no longer perceived myself as a single, a solid, an entity with boundaries....at the most elementary level I am a fluid....My soul was as big as the universe and frolicked with glee in a boundless sea" (p. 69).

    Rather than aiming to unite ourselves with the will of God, Dr. Bolte Taylor seems to simply associate the aim of prayer with the experience of intense feelings:
    * "I believe the experience of Nirvana exists in the consciousness of our right hemisphere, and that at any moment, we can choose to hook into that part of our brain" (p. 111).
    * "brain research performed by Drs. Andrew Newberg and the late Eugene D'Aquili earlier this decade have helped me understand....Using SPECT technology (single photon emission computed tomography), these scientists identified the neuroanatomy underlying our ability to have a religious or spiritual (mystical experience)....Tibetan monks and Franciscan nuns were invited to pray inside the SPECT machine. They were instructed to tug on a cotton twine when they reached their meditative climax or felt united with God. These experiments identified shifts in neurological activity in very specific regions of the brain....when my left language centers were silenced and my left orientation association area was interrupted from its normal sensory input, my consciousness shifted away from feeling like a solid, to a perception of myself as a fluid - at one with the universe" (pp. 135, 136).
    How would Dr. Bolte Taylor account for arid experiences of prayer, such as what has been famously described of Mother Theresa of Calcutta?

    While offering a very wide perspective, Dr. Bolte Taylor does not seem able to adequately explain evil. Hints about HER perspective on the life hereafter are very unsatisfying:
    * "In the consciousness of my right mind, we are all good and we are all beautiful - just the way we are" (p.140).
    * "My right mind realizes that the essence of my being has eternal life. Although I may lose these cells and my ability to perceive this three-dimensional world, my energy will absorb back into the tranquil sea of euphoria" (p. 160)....more info
  • An Excellent and Very Revealing Insight
    There is a lot to learn about how the brain works and what happens before, during and after a stroke. This is one person's experience from a very unique perspective--a person who studies brain function and who has had a stroke. The vivid depictions of the experience and the recovery held my attention like a murder mystery--yet better because I felt it was a real story and I think knowledge of the brain function is more mystery than science.
    I recommend that everyone, who might have a stroke, everyone who cares for someone, has a family member, or a friend who has had a stroke, should read this book. It is quick and there is at least one important bit of information for each of us.
    The only connection that I felt was missing was information about recovery support from a "significant other". To me this would seem important.
    ...more info
  • A Gift of Insight!
    Jill Bolte Taylor has gifted the world with her knowledge and experience.
    She explains that the left side of the brain is where our thought processes
    chatter about our past experiences, and worry about our potential futures.
    When a blood vessel exploded on the left side of Dr. Taylor's brain, she
    learned the meaning of simply "being". She shares her blessing in disguise
    as she got to experience the nirvana of living in the moment, without the
    chatter that usually occupies one's mind when both brain hemispheres are
    functioning properly. She is an amazing and courageous person.

    Jill Bolte Taylor discovered that the feeling of nirvana is never more than "a mere thought away". I have also experienced this truth by reading awarding winning books, Working on Yourself Doesn't Work: The 3 Simple Ideas That Will Instantaneously Transform Your Life, How to Create a Magical Relationship: The 3 Simple Ideas that Will Instantaneously Transform Your Love Life, and Being Here: Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment, written by Ariel & Shya Kane. By reading the Kanes books I have learned how to live in the moment and experience the feeling of nirvana, even as the chatter in my mind continues endlessly. If you want to check out their style, listen to their internet radio show called "Being Here" on The 7th Wave Network channel on Voice America.com. Dr. Taylor and Ariel & Shya Kane have written the road
    maps to living life in the moment. Check them out!...more info
  • Fascinating!
    This is the most fascinating book I have ever read! I have already read it twice. Everyone in the world should read this. Amazing!...more info
  • Boring
    I had high hopes for this book, but it was boring. After the stroke, it was all dull, the narrative didn't flow and I lost interest. There were no real revelations in this book. if you're really interested in strokes, borrow it from the library instead of spending your money on it....more info
  • Books
    I am a full time care taker for my husband who had a massive stroke last year. Since reading her book (I'm not finished, too many things on my plate). it does give me insight to what he might of been thinking and trying to tell us the first 5 weeks in the hospital (out of 10 weeks). The last 5 weeks were in rehab. I thank Jill for all the information in all areas after her stroke. It is well worth buying her book, especially if some one close to you has had a stroke. The ones who should really read this book are the professionals, staff, care providers who work with these patients. I can't begin to tell you how many professionals, nurses, Respiratory Therapist, etc, etc. did not know anything about strokes. AND, we were in a good hospital....so they say....more info
  • Amazing Book
    My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor is a story about a woman who is a Harvard-trained brain scientist and suffered a massive stroke. A blood vessel exploded in the left side of her brain which is the coherent, rational, grounded, detail- and time-oriented side. The right side functioned fine. She discovered that the right side of her brain housed all those feelings of well-being and peace. She never felt those feelings before because the left side was so busy with everyday chatter. She experienced deep internal peace for the first time. Her message is that this internal peace is accessible is anyone.
    If you would like to experience inner peace and Spiritual Enlightenment about God in a seemingly hopeless world, May I suggest you read My book as well. (See Above)
    ...more info
  • Pseudoscientific conjecture masquerading as science writing
    I was hoping for a first-hand account of stroke told through the (somewhat) objective lens of a scientist. However, the book is written from the perspective of someone who buys into a lot of unsubstantiated and unproven ideas about how the brain works and pawns them off as empirical truths. Unfortunately, the fact that the author has a Ph.D. (in the study of the anatomy of the brain, no less) will lend credibility to the new-agey claims she makes (especially in the latter half of the book).

    The author also somewhat romanticizes and glamorizes stroke. The vast majority of people who have a stroke don't have a caretaker with the financial resources to drop everything and take up their loved one's long-term care. Most people go through traditional inpatient rehab and many also suffer from debilitating physical problems that they must deal with. Many people struggle to resolve their pre- and post-stroke personalities, abilities, and identities without the aplomb Bolte-Taylor describes. She glosses over the devastation left in the wake of a serious stroke by constantly referring to her ability to "connect with the oneness of the universe."

    Ultimately, the author makes too many illogical claims, professes credence in junk science, and contradicts herself too often to allow me to value any of her insights. I am glad that Bolte-Taylor survived her ordeal, but I wish she had not written this book....more info
  • A must read!
    Dr. Jill is amazing. She's taken what most of us might see as a terrible experience and is changing the world in a positive way. In addition to wriring, she is also a wonderful speaker--because she does both from the heart. This book is especially important for anyone entering the medical field or those who are involved in the heatlhcare of others in any way. This book is a great complement to Pearls of Wellness (Pearls of Wellness 52 Inspirations to Achieve a Peaceful Body, Mind, and Spirit). ...more info
  • Tedious, fascinating, and weird
    I would give the author herself 5 stars for her journey and her perseverance and being able to overcome severe deficits.

    For the book, however, 3 stars is generous, in my opinion. As the daughter of a recent stroke survivor, I found very useful information about how to deal with my mother and how to encourage her, and it also gave me great hope for her continued improvement and recovery. BUT......way too much right-brain writing going on here. "I love my cells" is an actual quote and perfectly illustrates how much of the last third of the book is written. I am glad I read this book and will recommend it to my sisters, but with the suggestion to just to read the middle section.

    The first third is tedious, the middle third is fascinating, and the final third is weird....more info
  • My Stroke of Insight
    My wife had a stroke 2 years ago and my daughter had major brain surgery 6 weeks ago which caused stroke like symptoms. Reading this book helped my truly understand what is hapening in the mind of the victum and how I could better respond. Nothing else I read on stroke and brain injuries was as valuable....more info
  • My Stroke of Insight
    This was a spiritually profound read for me. I have studied brain hemispheres as an artist and an educator but nothing I have ever read clarified the significant differences between our two hemispheres as did this story. Jill Bolte Taylor's incredible journey into and out of her stroke and her ability to observe it as a scientist provides an unbelievable insight into our humanness in its totality. It was a page turner for me and I will be forever enriched by it.

    Vicki Soderberg ...more info
  • Fascinating Book!
    This is a very rare book depicting an amazing inside view of a stroke and a woman's will to live. Jill's ability to share her story with such detail of every moment of going through her stroke and wisdom drew me into each page. She shares her account of what was happening inside her body from a intelligent doctors perspective, while she was experiencing one side of her brain shutting down and operating and living in the other side of her brain. Jills determination to live and heal was remarkable, and she shares very important information for us all to learn from. Her incredible story proves there is a spiritual divine nature within all of us that resides in a space of unconditional love and the unconditional love she received from her mom was so powerfully healing to her. I wish Dr. Jill Taylor much love and joy on her journey. Thank you so much for sharing your story!...more info
  • Interesting
    If you want to understand how part of the brain works, and the preseverence, and struggle of the author coming back from a major
    medical incident, and comes out at the end after a long recovery,this book is for you....more info
  • Disappointing
    I was looking forward to this book, but found it disappointing. I work with brain-injured people for a living and was highly skeptical by the story's end. It just didn't jive with what I see in my practice every day. Very simplistic writing style. ...more info
  • arrogant and simplistic
    I just listened to the author on the radio. When asked about her "spiritual experience through her stroke" and the possible comparison with any mystical experience associated with religion, she dismissed the religions themselves as stories not being the experience itself. My objections to that answer:
    1)True, they are stories but provide a time tested incremental path to reach that experience if you have not been "fortunate" enough to have a stroke.
    2)how is her "story" of left brain/right brain, better than the religions' stories when it comes to getting to the experience itself? She never describes any method for replicating that experience.
    3) She has no clues on how to make people reach the same state as she did,but she says she has an inspirational story...however she cannot lead anybody else where she has been. If she had gone there by her own effort and not by some accident, then she would be entitled to discard other paths, although people who achieve real realization never celebrate their path by negating others'.
    4)she confuses, in a very dualistic way, a state without thought and a state with thoughts. She talks about being able to go back to that state of pure silent joy whenever she wants but that state of joy does not seem to include the present moment when she IS thinking...in true meditation one is able to be aware of both silence and thoughts without distraction. Even confusion is mindful and joyful.
    5)Another very bizarre confusion is that she equates Beingness with right brain????
    I suspect that she has the arrogance of the people who have just put one foot on the path and think they know it. In a completely realized being there will be integrated awareness during both the awake and the sleep state; if she is at that state, then bravo, if not well maybe she has more to learn about the integration of her "brain". Who is more qualified to lead her there than the time tested old fashion religions that have already laid down the path and where real teachers prevent one from becoming full of oneself?


    ...more info
  • All About Me Book
    Ego book about the author. I expected more about the near death experience and less about the repetition of how smart she claims to be. Yes she has higher education. Just read a few pages and she will tell you. Book was a complete let down!!...more info
  • Useful if you have a person suffering from a stroke
    My father had a stroke in 2001. It was so severe that left him for a long time now in a vegetative state. Its a unique book in the way the author discusses her personal experience with useful observation to her own state of mind and thinking at the time of a stroke. Very easy read it gets emotional on some occasions and gives you a different angle toward dealing with your own injured person if you have one. ...more info
  • Physician review
    Well written and very apropo to our global human existence today!!!My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey...more info
  • Interesting at first glance, but lacks depth.
    When I was given My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey for Christmas this year, I was quick to crack it open and begin reading. I had head many good things said on the topic of the book, and her credentials were undeniable. Unfortunately, so is my disappointment with the work itself.

    The book has several key follies, and the most prominent of these is the book's indecisive lack of depth. The author, Dr. Taylor, dips back and forth between scientific fact and (extremely) anecdotal accounts. Though this is usually a delightfully effective combination for non-fiction books, both styles are poorly executed by Taylor. The fact is overly dumbed-down and spoken mostly in euphemisms meant to appeal to the lowest denominator. Somehow, this manages to make the facts even more difficult to learn. Despite a few sentences with content, the author runs in circles and repeats the same confusing mess over and over.

    The anecdotal accounts were equally disappointing. Her stories lent little interesting information to the reader; instead, they awkwardly describe the author's various feelings and pseudoscientific musings. The language used in both the science and the personal accounts is bland and repetitive.

    To describe the book as a non-fiction, even is pretty difficult, as many parts of the book are fantastical assumptions made by the author. The writing style, too, floats somewhere between that of a fiction and a nonfiction book. Though Taylor tries to describe with some elegance her experiences, an otherwise excellent tale is brutally marred by a poor vocabulary and an utter lack of the literary techniques (even simple ones like basic comparisons and metaphors) characteristic of informal, fictional books. However, so little is explained plainly or scientifically, it hurts to call this a nonfiction science book. Instead, I would describe the book as written by Taylor for herself (and perhaps a small selection of people helping stroke patients recover) as a sort of crude and uninteresting diary. I could have saved several hours by just reading the 40-point list in the appendix of the book- it contained every last bit of the story's meat anyway.

    At a glance, however, the book does have its merits. Despite genuinely poor authorship (Dr. Taylor should definitely stick to science), it is a fairly interesting story to be told. If you decide to stop reading 3/4ths of the way through, however, don't say I didn't warn you. In the face of Taylor's bumbling repetition, it is surely tempting.
    ...more info
  • excellent
    I can honestly say I have not enjoyed a book this good in a long while. This book is not only informative but it is entertaining, you will not be able to set it down. It's a book everyone should read....more info
  • Very Accessible, though more helpful for stroke recovery than for general knowledge
    I thought the subject matter and her story were very interesting. However the whole book is a little "light"-- kind of like a camp counselor telling her story rather than a neuroscientist. While this makes the book very accessible to a wider audience, I did find the repetitive cheerleadery narrative style a little tedious. I read this book looking for knowledge on the left and right brains and figured information from someone whose left brain had "gone offline" and then recovered would be fascinating. It was, but I wanted a little more. I am sure, however, if I had come to this book as a guide while helping someone recover from a stroke, I would have appreciated the lighter encouraging tone a lot more. I commend Dr. Jill for the incredible hard work she must have done to recover and would recommend her book to anyone dealing with stroke recovery. ...more info
  • My Stroke Of Insight
    This was one of the most amazing books I ever read. Not only does it give the doctors and medical personnel the information they need - what a person with a stroke is actually going through, it shows what the human spirit can overcome if they aren't consumed with fear. Everyone should read this book....more info
  • I relate to Taylor's insightful experience
    I lived thru a very damaging brain injury. I recovered most of my brain functions, except one; Executive function. If we don't fully understand the science part info. regarding how the brain works. The inner self input that she provided is very important to people that survived strokes and all those close to us,family and friends...more info
  • Insightful and helpful
    "My Stroke of Insight" provides an understanding of the brain and how the mind works, not only for people who have suffered from stroke, but for the average person. Through understanding how the left and right side of the brain work, we discover we have choices about how to live life more fully, and creatively, just by shifting our thinking. Jill Bolte Taylor's book also helps to be more sensitive and compassionate to others who have brain disorders or injury. These people are really conscious beings that understand more than we realize, even if they cannot speak or form the words to express themselves....more info
  • great information - full of hope
    ASIN:0670020745 My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey
    As a friend of a young woman who suffered a stroke last fall, I found this book to be a valuable resource. It helped me understand the process of recovery and my part in it. ...more info
  • Facinating
    I really enjoyed reading this book. It was fascinating to read step-by-step and moment-by-moment, from her own perspective, as Dr. Taylor's brain function deteriorated as a result of her stroke. I felt much admiration for her as she described her attempts to get help - from the first realization she needed help to the enormous focus and patience required to just dial the phone to get that help.
    Reading about the recovery stage after her stroke was also very interesting and inspiring. She was very fortunate to have a mother who had the right balance of patience and firmness to assist her in returning to a person who has the use of both sides of her brain. I believe Dr. Taylor's trust in her own healing process was also instrumental in her recovery.
    I wondered, as I read the book, how it was possible for someone with such profound damage to her brain to remember, after she recovered, what her thoughts and feelings had been while that damage was occurring. Her recollection as written was not vague, but very specific. Perhaps she explains that on her website - I'll have to go look.
    This book was a good read - interesting and inspiring. I'm glad I bought it.

    Alexandra Aina, co-author of Emotional Triangle: A True Story of Overcoming Childhood Trauma, Years of Grief, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder...more info
  • SOOOO INFORMATIVE!!
    Everyone should read this book, not only for all the incredible info about the brain, but also as an insight into family illnesses. Jill Bolte is a real survivor. Thank you....more info
  • love the book
    I ordered this book for a family member that has suffered a brain injury. I saw Jill bolte Taylor on the Oprah show and thought that she delivered a strong message, something that all healthcare workers could benefit from, so when this happened to my family member I thought it would be a good comfort to her and her family to read this book....more info
  • stroke victim
    Every health professional who comes in contact with a brain wounded person should read this book. ...more info
  • Engrossing look at the amazing brain
    In My Stroke of Insight author Jill Bolte Taylor shares her experiences of surviving and recovering from a stroke. A brain scientist, she explains what she experienced in graphic detail, while explaining the science in understandable laymen's terms. This is a fascinating look at the machinations of the brain, and the potential it holds.

    At a short 177 pages, the book retains the interest of the reader, and is easy to read. Yet it would have been well served to have been more closely edited. Part reads like a self-help book, as the author deals with a more spiritual aspect of her recovery, and this portion has repetitions. But the tips for working with and caring for a brain-injured person are invaluable. This is a must read for caregivers and providers.
    ...more info
  • My Grandmother had a stroke
    My grandmother had a stroke when I was a baby and all I ever knew was her being in a wheel chair. This book was so enlightening and makes respect her even more....more info
  • Tedious and melodramatic
    I was really looking forward to reading this, and the first part, when Taylor talked about her life pre-stroke, went well. The second part, about the anatomy of the brain, was somewhat dry but necessary. But then, talking about her treatment and recovery, she segued time and time again into melodramatic overload: "My head pulsed with a tormenting pain..." "I couldn't hear anything beyond the pounding rhythm of my heart..." as well as silly philosophizing: "In silent prayer,I reflected, I am not supposed to be here anymore!" I'm glad others enjoyed it, but after p. 70 or so I gave up....more info
  • In the end you will have knowledge and empathy.
    Dr Bolte Taylor paints a picture with words about the horrors and bliss associated with having her stroke. Through this, she inspires us to look beyond the physical body that is beset with limitations and instead seek out the mental, feeling, emotional side of not just stroke victims but of all patients and of all humanity. Through that she reveals we can shape our inner self to focus on what really matters. I cannot imagine many people reading her book or seeing her lecture at TED.com walking away without having been greatly impacted by the beauty and truth of her story. I, for one, have been greatly touched on so many levels by listening to and reading about her experiences. And, I dare say, my patients have benefited as a result....more info
  • Unique Perspective
    This book provides a unique description of the differences between the left and right sides of the brain, because she experienced about as big a decrease in the functioning of her left hemisphere as anyone who has recovered enough to write about it. It's a very quick read, but didn't have as much information as I'd hoped.

    She makes plausible claims (with minimal mysticism) that her stroke helped her experience nirvana and continues to help her choose to have the best parts of her brain dominate her personality. It makes me wish there were something better than the Wada test that would enable the rest of us to more safely experiment with such experiences.

    It helps me understand what I'm not accomplishing when I try (with little success) to meditate, but it appears that her advice for how to do better only works for people who are starting with a mind that is less strongly dominated by the left brain than mine.

    It's important to remember that the parts of her brain that are reporting the benefits of her experience are the ones that survived. We have little information about how the parts of her brain that died would have evaluated the experience.
    ...more info
  • An interesting view of a stroke victim's ordeal
    Dr. Taylor has conveyed an interesting and unique view of the brain's ability to recover from a stroke. Because of her background of studying the brain's function and her knowledge of the various aspects of her experience as related to her injury, we get a unique view of the healing and how it affected her cognitive ability. As I have had family who suffered from dementia, I was hoping to gain some insight into the mind of an injured brain. Dr. Taylor has written a unique aspect of a stroke victim's inner world but it really didn't help me to see a general view of strokes affects as everyone apparently is so different in the areas of damage. ...more info
  • Bringing Awareness so you can Start the Conversation
    I borrowed a copy from our library based upon a recommendation and read it, all the while thinking of a friend who had a stroke about 16 months ago. This gave me a great opportunity to talk with him about his experiences, discussions I could not have had if I didn't read Taylor's book.

    Taylor honestly shared what the stroke experience felt like (from denial to "Wow, this is so cool") and then what she went through during her 8-year recovery. She told of what was beneficial to her during that recovery period and what sapped her energy and she needed to avoid.

    She was strong enough to tell those people who drained her to limit their visits. She also had a gatekeeper, her Mom, who helped enforce those decisions.

    Taylor needed and received encouragement from others and I thought that maybe my friend needed something similar. When we talked I was taken aback when he shared that his stroke experience made him think of suicide. Wow. We had a great conversation after that revelation.

    From Taylor I remembered that it is most important to focus on the improvements one makes during the recovery and not dwell on what was temporarily lost.

    I think this is a great book to prepare anyone to care for a person who has suffered a stroke. One word of advice: if scientific explanations slow you down (or even bring you to a complete stop) feel free to skip the second and third chapter until you read the rest of the book. In the past I used to enjoy delving into those explanations but this time I didn't want to lose the narrative so I skipped that part, finished the book and then went back and read those two chapters. I understood them better in that context and didn't feel that I missed anything by delaying it.

    I will recommend this to many of my friends to help them be aware of strokes and how to minister to those who have one....more info
  • Major thesis problesm
    I haven't read the book, but did hear her talk on TED. I have studied mystical and religious experiences at the PhD level, including a good amount about its neurobiological correlates. There are critical problems with her thesis that aren't being recognized...

    Mystical experience has been studied for some time. Is there any evidence that loss of left (as opposed to right) hemisphere function specifically causes mystical experience? No.

    Furthermore, is there any evidence that experiencing stroke is correlated to mystical experience? No. This would be widely known if it were true. They've been trying to prove a connection with epilepsy and mystical experience for a long time, for example, although this isn't turning out well.

    What really happened to this woman is that she went into what is known as a state of witnessing experience. This is a common mystical state, and can happen spontaneously to anyone, at any time, although particularly to people in crisis. While she describes her stroke, she is also describing this state of awareness--she mixes and conflates the two.

    What she then does is what many people do: She explains the experience in the terms she best understands, which in this case is neurobiology, and then force fits it. To do so, she comes up with a long ago discredited notion, that the right hemisphere is the key to a holistic life. This split brain idea went out of vogue a long time ago.

    If you want more credible discussions of the neurobiological of spiritual experience and more sophisticated discussions of how it might be arrived at, I recommend the work of Andrew Newberg as well as Mario Beauregard.

    ...more info
  • Not useful and a waste of time.
    I am writing this review for my father, who suffered his first major ischemic stroke in the right hemisphere of his brain in October, 1995. More than one doctor told me they didn't understand how he'd survived that amount of damage, by all accounts he should have died. But he didn't. Since then, he's had two more, less major, ischemic strokes.

    He heard about this book and immediately purchased it. He's always been interested in learning about how others have dealt with the devastating and debilitating aftermath often encountered following a stroke.

    He was fully unimpressed and completely disappointed with this book. He had high hopes because the author is a well-educated brain scientist who, unfortunately, also suffered a stroke, albeit a different kind of stroke from my father because she had a hemorrhagic stroke.

    According to my father, this book seemed to focus more on her spirituality. He also had the impression that she was, in some respects, almost touting stroke's praises...almost as if she was recommending having a stroke so that one could be closer with their spirituality.

    If you are looking for help dealing with your own stroke, or that of another, this is NOT the book to purchase. If you do, you, too, will be disappointed in its lack of assistance.

    If you are looking for a guide to get closer to your own spiritualness, then this is a good one to read....more info
  • My Stroke of Insight
    Provided valuable insights into dealing with a stroke victim. Put to rest the myth that all stroke victims will regain there previous facilities in a three week peroid or not at all. Helps to maintain a positive outlook on rehabilitation....more info
  • My Stroke of Insight
    My Stroke of Insight is one of the best books I've read. It is Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor's experience of a stroke... from the inside. I'm entering my final year of the Physical Therapist Assistant program. I will always remember Dr. Bolte Taylor's experience of how health professionals made her feel when she was under their care. I will strive to be a health care provider who will make my patients feel safe and well cared for....more info
  • Very useful insights but a bit academic reading
    Very useful insights but a bit academic reading. Very useful insights for folks having a stroke and those who care for them....more info

 

 
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