Read My Stroke Of Insight A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor Free Online
Book Title: My Stroke Of Insight A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey|
The author of the book: Jill Bolte Taylor
Date of issue: 2008
ISBN 13: 9781607512912
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 788 KB
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Reader ratings: 5.9
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Jill Bolte Tayor was a 37-year old neuroanatomist when she experienced a massive stroke that severely damaged the left hemisphere of her brain. My Stroke of Insight is her account of what happened that day, her subsequent 8-year recovery, and how these events changed her life for the better.
The most interesting part of the book for me was Bolte Taylor’s discussion of what happened to her on that morning in 1996. With her scientific background, Bolte Taylor was in a unique position to observe the progressive breakdown of her own functioning as the blood from her burst AVM spread throughout her brain. As new areas were affected, different functions were lost, and reading about her experience is a strange kind of real-world brain anatomy lesson.
A significant portion of this book is devoted to the process of Bolte Taylor’s recovery. She realized early on that the attitude and pacing of her caregivers made a big difference in how willing and able she was to respond, and she speaks in detail about what she, personally, found was most effective in helping her heal. There is some useful information in this section for those involved in stroke victim care.
What has catapulted this book onto the bestseller list, however, is the spiritual message underlying Bolte Taylor’s experience. When the language processing areas of her brain shut down, Bolte Taylor found herself bathed in a kind of peace and bliss that was previously unknown to her. With the section of her brain that controls physical boundaries offline, she felt fluid, open, and one with everything around her.
Bolte Taylor considers these experiences to be the result of her right brain suddenly being given the chance to run the show while her left brain was incapacitated. She speaks quite a bit about how she made a conscious decision during her recovery to retain access to these states and to keep these pathways open as she brought her left brain back online. In the latter section of the book, she offers a list of techniques she feels anyone can use to help open up pathways to the expanded capacities of their own right brains.
I learned a number of interesting things while reading this book, and there is no question that Bolte Taylor’s story is a very inspiring one. Ultimately, however, I was disappointed by a number of things about this book. To start, it would have benefited from better editing. Some sections are highly repetitive, I was confused about certain aspects of her level of functioning and recovery, and the flow of the narrative was very uneven. Hers is a great story, and good editing would have made that even more obvious.
My main criticism of this book, however there is a very sloppy blending of hard, scientific information about the brain with Bolte Taylor’s anecdotal experience and personal theories about what happened to her. It was not always obvious which was which, and I suspect many readers will be confused and assume her personal theories are more scientifically grounded than they actually are.
Though Bolte Taylor does not specifically mention religion in the book, her numerous allusions to prayer, visualization, energy, and oneness make it clear that she subscribes to a certain kind of belief system that her experiences are filtered through. While this is to be expected, her inability to see the contradictions in her beliefs was frustrating to me. For example, she speaks about how, after the stroke, she floated in a place of bliss, at one with everything. Yet just a few paragraphs earlier, she refers to a harried, inexperienced medical student as an “energy vampire.” She does not address why her feelings of being at one with and connected to everything did not extend to this person. In addition, she is critical of how the judgmental function of the left brain keeps us shut down from the more expanded perspective of the right brain, yet doesn’t seem to notice her own preference for right-brain dominated experiences seems, well, kind of judgmental.
I’ve had personal experiences of peace and bliss that are similar to what Bolte Taylor describes, so I can certainly understand her preference for them. I also think she gives some good advice to help people find those states themselves without having to have a stroke to get there. But I think this book would have been much more valuable had Bolte Taylor used her scientifically trained left-brain to more clearly separate her anecdotal experience and beliefs what science actually tells us about our fascinating brains.
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Read information about the authorJill Bolte Taylor is an American neuroanatomist, author, and public speaker. Her training is in the postmortem investigation of the human brain as it relates to schizophrenia and the severe mental illnesses. She founded the nonprofit Jill Bolte Taylor Brains, Inc., she is affiliated with the Indiana University School of Medicine, and she is the national spokesperson for the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center.
Bolte Taylor's personal experience with a massive stroke, experienced in 1996 at the age of 37, and her subsequent eight-year recovery, has informed her work as a scientist and speaker. For this work, in May 2008 she was named to Time Magazine's 2008 Time 100 list of the 100 most influential people in the world. "My Stroke of Insight" received the top "Books for a Better Life" Book Award in the Science category from the New York City Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society on February 23, 2009 in New York City.