Friday, August 8, 2008

My Stroke of Insight

I first ran across Jill Bolte Taylor's book "My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey" on the TED website. Her account of her stroke at age 37 is riveting and the fact that she's chronicled this with the training of a brain scientist only makes her story that much more compelling. The book is an interesting combination of her stroke, her recovery, some brief introductory brain science, as well as some self-help stuff.

The account of her stroke is riveting. She experienced some rather psychadelic episodes that make me wonder how others experience these sort of events. What does the brain do during death? What do people experience in a coma? There seems to be an interesting combination of euphoria, disorientation, wonderment, and fear, all of which are competing simultaneously.

I also found her discussion of the hemispheric differences between the left and right side of the brain riveting. The whole "left brain/right brain" distinction is insightful. Her account of her recovery from her stroke provides lots of practical information to stroke victims and their caregivers and friends. Her recovery is truly inspirational and inspired many. Dick Clark named her one of the most influential people in Time Magazine and with good reason.

The fact that a scientist had the logical/rational part of her brain essentially shut down due to a stroke, makes for interesting reading. During this time she got more in touch with her emotional/intuitional side and it seems as if she learned greater patience and forbearance. At times, her language is a bit too New Age for me, but given what she's been through and the lessons she's learned, I may still be using too much of my left brain in thinking about all this.

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