Book Review: My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey

Rating: *****

An excellent book – also available as an audio-book.

stroke-of-insightDon’t miss the free video clip below – one of the most inspirational I’ve seen.

In her interesting and beautifully written memoir, My Stroke of Insight, brain scientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor reflects on her recovery from a massive stroke, which helped her understand the power of thoughts and their role in creating a balanced brain.  Her unique book provides readers with both a scientific and personal account of what happens to the brain after it experiences a stroke, and the relationship between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

On December 10, 1996, Taylor woke up with a sharp pain behind her left eye.  She had a stroke that caused severe hemorrhaging in the left hemisphere of her brain.  Her left brain, which processes language, thought and memory, became dysfunctional, while her consciousness shifted to the right brain.  As her left brain deteriorated, she began to lose her sense of individual identity.  However, her sense of well-being and intuition grew as her right brain became dominant.

Taylor’s scientific and personal account of her journey reveals the existence of a euphoric and mystical centre in the right brain.  During her rehabilitation, she reclaimed the power of thought that originates in the left brain, while retaining the sense of wholeness and euphoria from her right brain.  The stroke taught her that by “stepping to the right” of our left brains, we can uncover the feelings of well-being and peace that are often overshadowed by our left-brain chatter.

As a person recovering from a spinal cord injury, I found this book inspirational.  Through her personal experience with stroke, Dr. Taylor made a conscious effort to retain her intuitive, passionate, right-brained self while rebuilding the circuits of her left brain.  She demonstrated that we can choose the value systems and thought patterns of our left brains and take responsibility for our lives.  Like Dr. Taylor, I attribute my successful rehabilitation to maintaining a harmonious balance between the different aspects of my self.

This idea of balance ties into the theme of the RBY website: the need to balance our emotional, physical, cognitive, practical, and joyous aspects of our selves. A brilliant book, audio book and video…

In this video clip Dr Jill Bolte Taylor talks clearly and vividly about her own experience of stroke – what a gift to us non-brain-scientists.  Another gift for me is Jill herself: she has made an incredible (if difficult) recovery.  She is an amazing speaker and it’s hard to believe that not so long ago she had lost all of her language and cognitive abilities… Rating: *****