Identity Theft: Rediscovering Ourselves After Stroke

Identity Theft: Rediscovering Ourselves After Stroke

by Debra E. Meyerson, Danny Zuckerman


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An inspirational story for anyone struggling with their sense of self following injury, Debra Meyerson's emotionally powerful journey of rebuilding and redefining her identity after suffering a debilitating stroke seeks to let survivors know that they're not alone.

In 2010, Debra Meyerson, a Stanford University professor, suffered a severe stroke in which she lost all speech and was paralyzed on her right side. Identity Theft centers on Debra’s experience: her stroke, her extraordinary efforts to recover, and her journey to redefine herself. She draws on her skills as a social scientist and conversations with dozens of fellow survivors­, family members, friends, colleagues, therapists, and doctors to paint a new picture of the emotional journey through the identity-based challenges born from stroke and other accidents and illnesses that rob people of important capabilities. She shares amazing personal stories and uses them to illustrate lessons we can all learn from. She addresses these important questions:

  • Who are you after a stroke? How do I define myself in the face of more limited abilities?
  • How do you grieve the loss of you? What is really important to me?
  • Who do you become during your recovery? How do I fit in?
This is not a how-to book for recovery, nor will it tell you what you'll experience or how you should deal with the loss of ability, but it's a book full of hope for stroke survivors. It gives them and their support network a broad picture of what might lie ahead. And it explores some critical questions that, in the more prevalent focus on physical recovery, are all too often overlooked in the effort to help people who have lost capabilities from stroke or otherwise.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781449496302
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Publication date: 05/14/2019
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 354,190
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Debra Meyerson
Previously a tenured professor at Stanford University, Debra Meyerson studied, wrote, lectured, and taught about organizational change and how individuals make sense of work and of their lives.  She is the author of dozens of articles and book chapters, and two books including Tempered Radicals: How People Use Difference to Inspire Change at Work (HBS Press, 2001). She remains a consulting professor. Debra is also the survivor of a severe stroke that, in 2010, initially left her paralyzed on the right side and unable to speak or communicate in any way.  She still faces significant disabilities, but has brought her two lives together to write this book—as a resource for stroke survivors and as part of her journey to rebuild a life of meaning. Debra lives in Menlo Park, CA with her husband, and has three grown children.
Danny Zuckerman
An entrepreneur at the intersection of society and technology, Danny Zuckerman worked on a new digital identity system at Consensys. He has written and spoken on the problems and opportunities of identity in a globally connected world. Passionate about how individuals relate and cooperate, he is currently building a new tech startup that will help people create more powerful communities. Danny previously built digital education products at Zearn, worked as a management consultant at Bain & Co, and studied Political Philosophy and Economics at Stanford University. He grew up in Menlo Park, CA playing every sport he could, and now lives in New York City playing spikeball in his spare time. Danny is Debra Meyerson's son.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part 1 Unwinding a Self 11

Chapter 1 A Slow Fall off a Cliff 12

Chapter 2 Everything Can Fail 24

Chapter 3 A Teacher without Words 34

Chapter 4 Moving Forward 43

Part 2 What It's Really Like, Outside and Inside 57

Chapter 5 The Grind of Therapy 58

Chapter 6 Let Me Talk! 67

Chapter 7 Grief 79

Chapter 8 Lean On 88

Chapter 9 Stroke Is a Family Illness 102

Chapter 10 Partners and Intimacy 121

Chapter 11 People Are Social Animals 134

Chapter 12 How the World Responds 148

Chapter 13 Activities Adapted 156

Chapter 14 Careers and Callings 163

Chapter 15 Dealing with Financial Strain 174

Chapter 16 Advocating in the U.S. Medical System 182

Part 3 Redefining Recovery 193

Chapter 17 Reclaiming the Basics 194

Chapter 18 Choice in Our New Identities 205

Chapter 19 Fulfillment through Growth 221

Acknowledgments 227

Appendix I Survivor Biographies 235

Appendix II Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs 257

Notes 259

References 269

Index 275

About the Authors 281

Customer Reviews

Identity Theft: Rediscovering Ourselves After Stroke 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Deborah Kolb More than 1 year ago
Deborah K.... Thank you-- Debra Meyerson and Danny Zuckerman. Identity Threat is an amazing resource for people who have suffered ‘identity’ and other serious physical setbacks in their lives. We have just lived the last year in that state. Meyerson’s book does a remarkable job of blending her personal story (of her stroke) with those of others to help us come to grips with the challenges of life changing events. We see the sadness but also the glory in their stories. But we can also detect the other part of Debra Meyerson’s identity, the scholar and sociologist, that she describes before her stroke. The book is filled with helpful frameworks—especially the notion of ‘small wins’-- that we can all use to deal with adversity in whatever form it comes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Identity Theft" is a gift that offers hope to anyone that has struggled with a life changing event, for both the survivor and their families. Dr Debra Meyerson shares insight and helpful strategies in developing a "New Normal" in the rebuilding of a rewarding life. A resource everyone should have in their personal library!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was so inspired reading Debra Meyerson's story of her journey through recovery from her stroke. Its a powerful book about learning what is important in life - and how to make sure you live your values, even after your self-identify is suddenly altered. Professor Meyerson shares her personal story - but also those of so many others whose lives have been instantly changed due to stroke or other trauma. She shares practical advice from navigating the complex medical system to career challenges to understanding how resilience and self-reflection can help re-build a meaningful and rewarding life after a stroke. This book is a must-read for stoke survivors and their families - but even more importantly, is a must read for anyone (that's all of us) who will face challenges throughout their lives.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jill Bolte Taylor meets Atul Gawande meets Sheryl Sandberg in one storyline! If you've read Being Mortal, Option B and/or Stroke of Insight, then you're ready and in need of Debra Myerson's newest book on her journey after stroke. Debra leverages her academic training and expertise on social identities to study her own identity and those of her family, friends, professional colleagues and acquaintances as she begins to re-define herself in her life. She offers equal measures of observation, wisdom and practical guidance for anyone of us, similarly upset by a traumatic health event that affects ourselves or a loved one and trying to journey on .... beautifully written and well referenced for more reading!
SueFP More than 1 year ago
Wow! Identity Theft is a powerful book for anyone, but a "must read" for people who have suffered physical and emotional setbacks in their lives, as well as their caretakers. It is a remarkably honest and inspirational account of the journeys and growth of so many survivors/”thrivers” post stroke. They were “jolted from [their] cruise-control paths” and forced to do deep soul-searching and exploration. Debra Meyerson shares many practical tips for how she and the other amazing survivors struggle to redefine, accept, and embrace their new identities. We can all learn valuable and transformative lessons to apply in our own lives!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Debra Myerson had her identity ”stolen” from her. Not by a person, but something more insidious. Ms. Myerson, a professor at Stanford University, suffered a stroke due to a dissected carotid artery. In this book, she shares how she struggled to overcome the effects of the stroke. Ms. Myerson suffered from weakness because of her stroke. But her most debilitating and frustrating effect was her inability to communicate due to aphasia. Ms. Myerson, who published books in her field, lectured at Stanford University and could no longer f talk. The reader follows Ms.Myerson through her recovery as she searches for the silver lining in her situation. In telling her story, she shares her frustrations and triumphs. To illustrate her point, Ms. Myerson shares stroke stories of other people which were compelling. This book has an academic feel to it. The author readily refers to studies and other experts to validate a point. I think this is an excellent book, told with honesty and compassion. I feel stroke survivors and caregivers would benefit from reading this. I really feel this book should be required reading for health care workers caring for stroke survivors. It is rare they get this insight into a stroke survivor's struggles with aphasia
Marcia Mumbrue More than 1 year ago
Debra Meyerson’s book, Identity Theft: Rediscovering Ourselves After Stroke, combines the elements of a memoir, textbook, and philosophy of life into a must read book for stroke survivors and their families. By intertwining her voice with others, she leads us through her own recovery with deliberation, strength, and even humor. Identity Theft allows the reader to share in Meyerson’s journey as she redefines herself and her reason for being. Identity Theft does exactly what Meyerson hopes to do. It teaches. Through interviews and research, the book delves into the physical and psychological battle necessary to recover from stroke. It also gives much needed information about the resources and limits of the medical community. Clearly stated and outlined, the book becomes a valuable tool for those involved or interested in the stroke community. Identity Theft’s many elements deftly raise awareness of stroke and its victims. More than that, the book teaches the reader a lesson in defining oneself that goes far beyond stroke survival. Debra Meyerson’s strength and personality resonate. Identity Theft is an important book and one that should be read. I highly recommend it. Michigan Reader
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Identity Theft is a gift to the world and I recommend it for anyone who has undergone a major trauma (stroke or otherwise) and for their caregivers. For many stroke survivors, they haven’t lost their cognitive abilities, but suffer from aphasia that hinders their ability to translate their thoughts into words, so many think they have. Dr. Debra Meyerson dispels this and examines other challenges with a thoughtful, comprehensive look at her experience and those of other stroke survivors. People expect the difficulty of the long hours of physical therapy, but much less has been written about how to deal with the emotional challenges of having your identity snatched from you in an instant. Once it became clear to Debra that she could no longer do many of the activities that formed her existing identity as a tenured Stanford professor, accomplished skier and sailor, etc… , she realized she couldn’t “recover” her identity, so sought to “rebuild” it. She looked at the values underlying each part of her identity, and then looked for substitutes within her abilities to establish a new identity. Her story and others are inspirational, but she also looks at the ongoing frustrations of others who cling to their former identity and refuse to rebuild a new one. The book oozes with love and care as she give practical advice on everything from dealing with family impacts, a different social life, intimacy, financial difficulties, the medical system, and more. Most encouraging are the multiple examples of how many survivors continue to make remarkable progress long after a year, which is the medical establishment’s standard view of when progress stops. This book is very readable. As a stroke survivor myself (fortunately it was mild and a fraction of Debra’s and other stories in the book), I found so much truth and previously unspoken wisdom in this book. My only criticism is that her findings around identity have much broader applicability than just strokes. She interviewed someone who suffered a brain trauma and another with ALS, but more could have been said about this.
WarriorFan35 More than 1 year ago
Love this Book! Identity Theft is a profoundly moving and inspirational book that takes us on a journey of finding a new self-identity after suffering a stroke. The book is honest, raw, uplifting and powerful as it follows Deb Meyerson’s post stroke recovery, as well as those of dozens of other stroke survivors. What surprised me most is how relevant this “rediscovery process” is to not only survivors and families affected by stroke, but to every family/person who has faced a serious illness, injury, trauma, disability or major life change that leaves us asking “Who am I now….and Who do I want to be going forward?” As a parent of a non-verbal adult child with autism, I saw so many parallels on the difficulties life with aphasia brings, but the importance and beauty of carving a path that creates a rich, full life. Life’s journey can often include devastating challenges, but Identity Theft shows us road maps where determination, resilience, compassion, positive attitude and a supportive personal network can help lead to a new version of self-identify and a life with purpose and meaning. As Deb Meyerson and Danny Zuckerman so movingly write: “I realized how many of us are united in this journey to understand and shape our own identities in the face of life changes…Every person is different. Every stroke is different. Every recovery is different.... Our options may be more limited because we have disabilities, but we still get to choose where we steer our path next, who we become now. Stroke may cripple some of our capabilities, shut down aspects of our life we thought were important, knock us off the direction we thought we were headed. But for those of us lucky enough to be survivors, stroke does not steal our future or who we get to become next.” “Identity Theft – Rediscovering Ourselves After Stroke” is a must read for anyone who has suffered a stroke, or life changing illness/injury (and their family members) that necessitates building a new path forward to create a life with meaning.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Strokes can be thieves and killers, I know first hand. Debra Meyerson's, Identity Theft peels back the layers of what life is like post-stroke for survivors, loved ones, caregivers and medical professionals. Deb's (and other survivor's) fight to survive and build a life after stroke is both inspiring and eye opening. A must-read for any survivor, caregiver or loved one.
nkatzzzz More than 1 year ago
I loved this book – and it's not just for stroke victims and their families and caregivers. If you’ve ever wondered how to support a friend going through a difficult time, struggled with an unexpected setback or worked through your own changing identity as life progresses, or f you just want to read the story of an amazing person and family and their determination to survive and thrive after a life-changing event, this is the book for you. I wish my family had had this book to refer to after my mom had an aneurysm in her early 40’s, as things may have turned out much better for her and my family if we’d had Debra Meyerson’s wisdom and insights back then. And as my friends and I struggle to figure out our next phase of life after our kids leave home, this book is an inspiring example of how to emerge and face this new phase of life with a renewed sense of purpose. Debra Meyerson may not be teaching at Stanford anymore, but she is certainly still teaching, and we can all learn from (and enjoy/appreciate) her story and those of the others she highlights throughout this book.