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My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

INTERESTING AND OUTSTANDING

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor has put together an awesome book! My Stoke of Insight: A Brain Scientists Personal Journey is extremely well written. What are the odds that someone with such extraordinary knowledge of the brain and at the height of her career would have a stroke ...
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor has put together an awesome book! My Stoke of Insight: A Brain Scientists Personal Journey is extremely well written. What are the odds that someone with such extraordinary knowledge of the brain and at the height of her career would have a stroke at the age of 37 and live to share such an amazing journey with us? That, coupled with her talent as a writer is unique and extremely interesting.
This book is written on a level that average people can comprehend. Step-by-step the author describes how she felt, how others treated her, and what happened to her brain and abilities during her left brain deterioration beginning on December 10, 1996 and the 8 year healing process she endured.
The author explains her nirvana like existence when her right brain was dominant while her left brain was healing. Her ability to live in the moment and observe her thoughts in a detached manner to reach a peaceful state as a result of her connection to her right brain is described by many other authors as "Mindfulness Meditation."
Enthralled with the story, I could not put this book down. I doubt that there is another book written by a person with firsthand expert knowledge of what it is like to have and recover from a stroke. I am glad I read this book and recommend it to people who are interested in study of the brain or those who like biographical stories of people who not only survive, but grow out of the depths of catastrophe. OUTSTANDING!

posted by 148253 on October 30, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

14 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

A Stroke of Genius?

My interest in this book stems from living with a relatively young stroke survivor, but I seriously question what the author is doing here. She claims to remember so much about what hapened to her during the stroke, including things that happened when she was not consci...
My interest in this book stems from living with a relatively young stroke survivor, but I seriously question what the author is doing here. She claims to remember so much about what hapened to her during the stroke, including things that happened when she was not conscious. Her thinking 'left' brain had shut down, but she still remembers these events, especially her feelings of nirvana as her right brain was freed from the constricts of the left brain. Well, hogwash! That's certainly not what you hear from a host of other stroke survivors. It sounds in the first part a lot like what scientists speculate happens as a stroke occurs, and the author, of course, was a brain scientist. The nirvana part has apparently led to a new career for the author as she has become something of a nirvana guru, capitalizing on what she says her experience was. Well, good for her. But this is not the book I hoped would shed light on the reality of a stroke for most people. If a stroke truly induces nirvana, perhaps the rest of us are missing out. But my gut feeling is that Taylor is going to leave a lot of stroke survivors wondering why they missed out at this chance for bliss.

posted by KenCady on January 29, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2009

    A book that opens up new possibilities

    The workings of the mind seen from a new perspective by someone with a scientific background who was awakended to her full potential by what seemed at first to be a terrible experience. It was informative and made the science accessible but it's great value to me was in the author's insights about the workings of the non-logical aspects of the mind and what might be the implications for the whole of humanity.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A courageous journey for a courageous woman

    Ms. Taylor's telling tale of her individual courage in the midst and eventual dealing of the stroke that struck her life at an early age of 37. She has relayed the intricacies of the function and design of the human brain and explains those intricacies in a simple and understandable manner. Her courage and intellect is inspiring.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 31, 2009

    Enlightenment from Misfortune

    My therapist recommended this book as a way of gaining insight into the way our brains cause us to form perhaps overly rigid identities. It was especially helpful to me in understanding why a sense of lacking a solid identify may not be such a bad thing. Dr. Taylor experienced a complete change in her perceptions and abilities as a result of a massive brain hemorrhage. She came to treasure at least some of her experience even as she fought to overcome it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2009

    MY STROKE OF INSIGHT really "struck home" with me

    Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor's story of being a neuroanatomist (I think) and 'WATCHING' her very own stroke occur -- and her recovery process, which was extensive -- shares a story like no other. My mother suffered many small strokes over a period of about 4 years, and then she had two larger strokes (although nothing like Jill's) in quick succession, thereby rendering her a patient in a rehab facility for 20 months before she died. IF I HAD KNOWN HOW A STROKE PATIENT FEELS in those moments right after it happens, and in the days following as they struggle to speak, to get "their words" back ... my family and I could have related to Mom in a more capable and comforting fashion. That they need to be talked to slowly and quietly -- with eye to eye contact -- that you must be GENTLE with them -- they can hear you - they may not understand, but they do hear you and they probably DO know what you are saying or asking of them ... BUT YOU MUST BE GENTLE. We were gentle and patient with Mom, but I wish we had known more.

    ALL THAT, and then there is this. Reading MY STROKE OF INSIGHT taught me a lot about our left brain / right brain functions. Which side does what, which side controls which daily functions -- and when Jill tells us that we can 'switch', consciously, from left to right -- to take a break from the unceasing CHATTER (left brain) in our heads -- that chatter that can sometimes drive us near-crazy -- TO TAKE A BREAK from that by 'visiting' our right brain and just BEING, maybe being creative and calm and blissful -- THAT was life-changing for me.

    As a retired interior designer, who now takes a lot of art lessons and workshops -- I find that the more time I spend in my RIGHT BRAIN, the calmer and more headache-free I can be. It's really quite amazing.

    Thank you to Jill for sharing her story. I didn't want the book to end!

    She's an inspiration to me, and I'm sure, to millions.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2009

    I gained so much insight into my own brain after reading "My Stroke of Insight" by Jill Bolte Taylor.

    MRI's have documented that I have had several strokes, but I thought that I had MS.

    Her book helped me to make sence of several of the confusing things that have plagued me over the past several years. It also helped me to underdtand why I never connected some of my problems with the strokes. As with Dr. Taylor, it didn't even register that I was having a stroke when my face and arms were numb and I had difficulty reading. Sometimes I didn't even understand what was being said to me, it all sounded like "Greek" to me. As a math major I now have a difficult time with numbers.

    I took her advice and purchased a Nintendo DS and the Brain Age programs to help train my mind back to better function. I am excited to think that I might be able to regain some of what I have lost.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    My Stoke of Insight is a must read for professionals, families and caregivers of anyone who has had a stoke or is brain injured.

    Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor has opened a door of insight into the world of persons with brain injuries and stroke. As a nurse who has cared for many, many stroke and brain injured patients over my 50 year career, this book gave me knowledge and understanding of the experience of this devastating illness. I am recommending this book to many people. Thank you Dr. Taylor.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2009

    Recommendation

    I bought this book for myself because I suffered a stroke a few years ago. I heard about it from a TV show (can't remember if it was Dr. Phil or Oprah). Overall I found it very interesting but there were a few chapters that as a stroke survivor I found the language used was a little too technical. Not all of us have College Degrees. Perhaps it was intended for the family members of a Stoke survivor.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    bliss is a stroke?!

    I found the first half or two-thirds of this book to be fascinating and enlightening. The author describes her experience of having a stroke in a very detailed manner. She is a brain anatomist, so she had lots of knowledge of the brain and was aware of what was going on while she was having the stroke. It took her 45 minutes to be able to make the call to get help for herself! What is most amazing is that while her left brain was not functioning (no language) she found herself to be content because felt at one with life. She was not concerned with what others were thinking and knew that she was connected with all persons. It sounds like the description of an experience of enlightenment. I found that her experience provided me with new questions about the human religious experience.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 13, 2011

    Excellent accounting.

    If you are interested in the workings of the human brain, I recommend this book. You do have to, however, overlook some personal comments from a non-Christian.

    I found the book intriguing. It was EASY to put in into the perspective of God and His infinite plan!

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  • Posted August 30, 2011

    Pretty good.

    Generally well written. The end gets a bit flakey, but otherwise great!

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  • Posted December 13, 2010

    Worth reading for stroke victims and caregivers

    Having a stroke must be hard enough for anyone. It must be that much harder to be a Harvard-trained brain scientist having a stroke, knowing what is happening to your brain as it happens.

    In December 1996, the author woke one morning knowing that something was very wrong with her. Within four hours, the left hemisphere of her brain had deteriorated to the point where she could no longer read, write, talk or understand what those squiggles were on her telephone keypad. While her logical left brain was shutting down (she was able to get help in time), her intuitive right brain gave her a feeling of total peace and being at one with the universe (not necessarily a bad thing). Taylor is able to give an almost blow-by-blow description as her brain shut down. For instance, when she loses the ability to speak, that means that a spot called Broca's Area is affected.

    Taylor's type of stroke was called an arteriovenous malformation, an abnormal arterial configuration. Even though it's a rare type of stroke, it's the most common type of stroke for younger sufferers (Taylor was 37 years old when she suffered her stroke). After several days in the hospital, she was sent home with her mother, who had come to help nurse her back to health. The plan was to get her as well, and as strong, as possible, because the operation to fix her arterial malformation, a stereotactic craniotomy, was coming. She survived, and over the next several years, was able to put her brain back together, leaving out the unpleasant and negative parts.

    During her recovery, Taylor learned the things that caregivers should, and should not, do to help stroke patients. Make eye contact with me. Honor the healing power of sleep. Speak slowly and enunciate clearly. Please don't raise your voice. Keep visits brief. Ask me multiple-choice questions, not Yes/No questions. Break all actions down into smaller steps. Don't finish my sentences or fill in words I can't find.

    This is a really interesting book. On one level, it looks inside the brain to show just what happens during a stroke; good for stroke victims or caregivers. On another level, it shows that the two lobes of the brain have very different personalities. It's very much worth reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2010

    Fascinating!

    Her courage is amazing! Since I recently had a minor stroke my self, it was so educational and inspirational.

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