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My Stroke of Insight

A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey
Taylor, Jill Bolte (Book - 2008)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
My Stroke of Insight
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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.
Authors: Taylor, Jill Bolte, 1959-
Title: My stroke of insight
a brain scientist's personal journey
Publisher: New York : Viking, 2008, c2006
Edition: 1st Viking ed
Characteristics: 183 p :,ill. ;,24 cm
Statement of Responsibility: Jill Bolte Taylor
Contents: Jill's pre-stroke life
Simple science
Hemispheric asymmetries
Morning of the stroke
Orchestrating my rescue
My return to the still
Bare to the bone
Neurological intensive care
Day two: the morning after
Day three: G.G. comes to town
Healing and preparing for surgery
Stereotactic craniotomy
What I needed the most
Milestones for recovery
My stroke of insight
My right and left minds
Own your power
Cells and multidimensional circuitry
Finding your deep inner peace
Tending the garden
Summary: 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.
ISBN: 9780670020744
0670020745
Branch Call Number: 616.81 T243m 2008
Subject Headings: Taylor, Jill Bolte, 1959- Health Cerebrovascular disease Patients United States Biography Cerebrovascular disease Patients Rehabilitation
Topical Term: Cerebrovascular disease
Cerebrovascular disease
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Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist by profession, writes about her experience with stroke. Includes information about how the brain works, as well as a personal account of her experience.

A brain scientists recounts her experiences after suffering a stroke at the age of thirty-seven, describing her discovery of differences in the left and right side of the brain and the steps she took over a period of eight years to recover her health.

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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Sep 17, 2014
  • WVMLStaffPicks rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This story recounts Harvard trained neuroscientist Jill Taylor’s debilitating stroke and subsequent recovery. She explains the science of the brain, what happened during her stroke, the experience of losing her left brain functionality, and the state of inner peace observed from the functioning right hemisphere. Her insights into the needs of stroke patients provide an invaluable tool for caregivers and families of stroke patients.

Mar 27, 2014
  • Yvette_Ehrlich rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I found this book very insightful into the actual experiences a person could have with a stroke. It was informative regarding what is needed by the person who has experienced a stroke. Of course, this would probably not apply to all persons since we are all unique and there are varying types of strokes. But, I suggest this title as a must read to help caregivers and family increase their awareness and understanding from the stroke suffers' point of view.

Contrary to other reviews, I'm not a fan of this book. While Ms. Bolte's story is interesting, it speaks to one type of rare stroke. I hope this book doesn't lead readers to believe that others who have had a stroke experience her nirvana-like world; especially those with right side arterial occlusions (a far more common stroke). Their experiences are very different. This book was recommended to me by a social worker after my husband had a stroke, and I found the book, "Stronger After Stroke" to be a much better resource.

May 04, 2013
  • bibliotechnocrat rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This is the fascinating account of a brain scientist who has a stroke. Because of her neurological training, she is able to identify and articulate the different brain functions affected as the trauma progresses. What's more, her observations will make you think about issues ranging from spiritual insight, to childhood perceptions.

It is an astonishing journey. Ordinarily, we don't think about the two halves of our brains working together because their cooperation is just given; in Bolte Taylor's case, the left brain gradually shuts down due to the stroke leaving her perceptions solely reliant on right brain functions. Her descriptions of a world perceived through the right brain sound exactly like the nirvana that the Buddha points toward. The absence of monkey-mind chatter, the timeless quality of the Now (which describe my memories of childhood), the deep inner peace - it's physiology meeting spirituality. If the case studies of Oliver Sacks interest you, you'll eat this book up.

The first three chapters focus on simplified neuroanatomy. If you're like me, and narrative works better than textbook study, start with chapter 4. The book also contains advice for helping people recover from brain trauma events.

Check our the author's TED talks lecture on Youtube.

Jan 23, 2013
  • ms_mustard rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

excellent book - both the description of her stroke and the story of her recovery. great insight into the differences between the right brain and left brain.

Suggested 2013 reading - Shelly Rose

Apr 05, 2012
  • nhoj rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A harvard trained brain scientist describes second by second what is happening to her and her perceptions as she is having a stroke - a blood vessel bursts and leaks blood into the left side of her brain.
She goes on to talk about the left and right sides of the brain and how we need to listen to our right brain which" thinks in pictures and perceives the big picture of the present moment" whereas "our left mind thrives on details, details and more details". The left is the logical half and the right is the artistic half. She maintains we need to live more in the moment and quiet the incessant inner chatter from the left brain which is what happened to her during her stroke - almost like being stoned on acid where each moment is consumed only with the task at hand and all else is meaningless.

Mar 11, 2012
  • andreareads rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I found the description of the stroke disturbing, thinking of people I've known who've gone through this, but the recovery was inspiring. I've long been interested in the differences between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and Taylor's exploration of this is thorough and fascinating. Some short sections early in the book are drier and more technical but the rest is gripping.

Jan 02, 2012
  • emilysteeves rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is just an excellent nonfiction book. The author is so inspiring, and her story is amazing. One of life's required reads. I expected a first hand account of what having a stroke and recovering feels like, and this part was interesting, but she also offers a beautiful and unique insight into the power of our brains, and our ability to be human.

Mar 31, 2011
  • lieslok rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Still in the process of this book, but I'm thoroughly enjoying this, as it brings me back to my Biology and Psychology courses I took in college. Taylor does try to "dumb down" the scientific jargon in the novel for people who aren't as familiar with neuroanatomy, but I would not say that she writes like a "boring scientist". Her writing is extremely rich with emotion, metaphors, and clear imagery of her experience. The point of the book is for people to become aware of what a stroke is, it's symptoms, the effects it has on different portions of the brain, and what an actual stroke victim feels like. This is anything but boring! But if you don't like to learn about human anatomy and what makes us who we are, then this book is not for you.

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Mar 06, 2013
  • hikers rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

My soul was as big as the universe and frolicked with glee in a boundless sea. (p. 69)

I was simply a being of light radiating life into the world. (p. 71)

In the absence of my left hemisphere's negative judgment, I perceived myself as perfect, whole, and beautiful just the way I was. (p. 71)

Mar 11, 2012
  • andreareads rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Because everything around us – the air we breathe, even the materials we use to build with – are composed of spinning and vibrating atomic particles, you and I are literally swimming in a turbulent sea of electromagnetic fields.

Mar 11, 2012
  • andreareads rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I felt weak and wounded. My arm felt completely depleted of its intrinsic strength, yet I could wield it like a stub. I wondered if it would ever be normal again. Catching sight of my warm and cradling waterbed, I seemed to be beckoned by it on this cold winter morning in New England. _Oh, I am so tired. I feel so tired. I just want to rest. I just want to lie down and relax for a little while._ But resounding like thunder from deep within my being, a commanding voice spoke clearly to me: _If you lie down now you will never get up!_

Mar 11, 2012
  • andreareads rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I was aghast when I realized it was their plan to cut my head open! Any self-respecting neuroanatomist would _never_ allow anyone to cut their head open!

Mar 11, 2012
  • andreareads rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

What a wonderful gift this stroke has been in permitting me to pick and choose who and how I want to be in the world. Before the stroke, I believed I was a product of this brain and that I had minimal say about how I felt or what I thought. Since the hemorrhage, my eyes have been opened to how much choice I actually have about what goes on between my ears.

Mar 11, 2012
  • andreareads rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Many of us spend an inordinate amount of time and energy degrading, insulting, and criticizing ourselves (and others) for having made a “wrong” or “bad” decision. When you berate yourself, have you ever questioned: Who inside of you is doing the yelling, and at whom are you yelling? Have you ever noticed how these negative internal thought patterns have the tendency to generate increased levels of inner hostility and/or raised levels of anxiety? And to complicate matters even more, have you noticed how negative internal dialogue can negatively influence how you treat others and, thus, what you attract?

Mar 11, 2012
  • andreareads rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

There has been nothing more empowering than the realization that I don’t have to think thoughts that bring me pain. Of course there is nothing wrong with thinking about things that bring me pain as long as I am aware that I am choosing to engage in that emotional circuitry. At the same time, it is freeing to know that I have the conscious power to stop thinking those thoughts when I am satiated.

Mar 11, 2012
  • andreareads rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

When my brain runs loops that feel harshly judgmental, counterproductive, or out of control, I wait ninety seconds for the emotional/physiological response to dissipate and then I speak to my brain as though it is a group of children. I say with sincerity, “I appreciate your ability to think thoughts and feel emotions, but I am really not interested in thinking these thoughts or feeling these emotions anymore. Please stop bringing this stuff up.” Essentially, I am consciously asking my brain to stop hooking into specific thought patterns. Different people do it differently of course. Some folks just use the phrase, ”Cancel! Cancel!” or they exclaim to their brain, “Busy! I’m too busy!” Or they say, “Enough, enough, enough already! Knock it off!”

Mar 11, 2012
  • andreareads rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Intuitively, I don’t question why I am subconsciously attracted to some people and situations, and yet repelled by others. I simply listen to my body and implicitly trust my instincts.

Mar 11, 2012
  • andreareads rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I love knowing that I am simultaneously (depending on which hemisphere you ask) as big as the universe and yet merely a heap of star dust.

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Jill Bolte Taylor's TED Talk

A wonderful presentation where she shares her personal story.

Find it at MCL

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