In a terrifying moment one morning in January 2015, neuroscientist Lipska lost sight of her right-hand while she was eating breakfast. As she reveals in this fast-paced memoir, her symptoms eventually lead her doctors to discover that a melanoma had spread to her brain. Although she studied brain disorders for a living, she was afraid to look at the first MRIs of her own brain, admitting that her brain was a “mortal danger” to her. Following surgery to remove the small malignant tumor that caused vision loss, Lipska, hopeful she could return to normal life, began an intensely active physical regimen of cycling and running. Within a few weeks, however, she experienced dementia- and schizophrenia-like symptoms, exhibiting aggressive behavior, caused by what she would learn were lesions in her brain. Lipska shares excruciating details of the drug therapies and other treatments she underwent, such as radiation and taking immunotherapy drugs. She recognizes that she will never be the same and that she must deal with brain scans and other tests the rest of her life, but she revels in the pleasures of living every day with her family. Her exhilarating memoir reveals the frustrations of slow recovery, and that even with the best medical care there are no guarantees for good health. (Apr.)
One of iBook's "Most Anticipated" Titles for Spring Included in the Top 10 of Publishers Weekly's "Spring 2018 Announcements: Memoirs & Biographies" “Lipska’s evolution as scientist, patient, and person explores the physiological basis of mental illness, while uplifting the importance of personal identity…. Lipska’s prose soars when narrating her experiences… her story is evidence that rich personal narratives offer value to an empirical pursuit of neuroscientific investigation.” —Science Magazine "This is the story, harrowing yet redemptive, of Barbara Lipska, stricken at 63 with a form of brain cancer. The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind, cowritten with Elaine McArdle, is the tale she lived to tell...If Lipska’s book is about 'what it’s actually like to lose your mind and then recover it,' it’s also about a new frontier in cancer care and the vertiginous trajectories for recovery being opened up...Imbued with scientific insight...Pondering the term 'survivor,' Lipska finds the dictionary definition—someone who perseveres and 'remains functional and usable'—resonant. Her mind and body battered, she wonders if she meets this standard. If this memoir is any guide, she more than measures up to it."—Weekly Standard "What is it like to have your mind thrust into the depths of madness and pulled back out again? In startling detail and with keen insight, Barbara Lipska, leading neuroscientist and mental illness expert, describes her own harrowing, albeit temporary, descent into extreme mental illness in her moving new memoir. While her nightmare only lasted eight weeks, Lipska's experience — one she fully remembers — upended the way she looked mental illness, in herself and others. A remarkable story about strength, endurance, and human's capacity for recovery, The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind truly captures what it is like to struggle with mental illness."—Bustle, "10 New Books About Mental Illness To Read In 2018" "It’s not often a research scientist, especially one who studies mental illness and the brain, experiences their specialty first hand, and it’s even more rare with this sort of mental break, medical or behavioral. If you enjoyed My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor or Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan, this is the memoir you want to read in 2018."—KXSU Seattle "[An] urgent memoir...Though Lipska's recovery is extraordinary, her suffering and its effect on her family are familiar to anyone impacted by devastating illness. Her experiences provide empathy and understanding for people whose behavior is beyond their control. Lipska is a survivor, and readers will be all the wiser because of it."—Shelf Awareness, Starred Review “A harrowing, intimately candid survivor's journey.”—Kirkus Reviews "[A] fast-paced memoir...exhilarating."—Publishers Weekly "As a director of the National Institute of Mental Health who focused on the impact of schizophrenia on the brain, Lipska knew a thing or two about mental illness. But she knew considerably more after she exhibited signs of the disease and came back from the brink with amazing insights...Her story conveys deep understanding about the brain and how disease, injury, and age can change our very selves."—Booklist
“Lipska recounts her ordeal with equal parts raw honesty and clear-eyed conviction. Her brush with death changed her physically, mentally and emotionally, and lead to a realization that the tragedy of an unlived life should be feared more than death itself.”—BookPage
"Barbara Lipska is the director of the Human Brain Collection Core at the National Institute of Mental Health in Virginia. Over the course of two months in 2015, she found herself on the strangest journey of her life. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma that had metastasized to her brain, a seemingly terminal condition that mimicked the symptoms of dementia and schizophrenia. Remarkably, her immunotherapy regimen was successful; equally remarkable, she has recreated that period of mental illness and cognitive trauma on the pages of this unusual memoir."—Toronto Globe & Mail“Oliver Sacks meets When Breath Becomes Air in this fascinating, page-turning account of insanity. Barbara Lipska's remarkable story illuminates the many mysteries of our fragile yet resilient brains, and her harrowing journey and astonishing recovery show us that nothing is impossible.”—Lisa Genova, New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice and Every Note Played "A riveting science story about how brains go bad, interwoven with the remarkable personal story of one brain going spectacularly bad. A total nail-biter."—Lisa Sanders, New York Times best-selling author of Every Patient Tells a Story “A spellbinding investigation into the mysteries of the human brain, led by a scientist whose tenacity is as remarkable as her story.”—Amanda Ripley, New York Times bestselling author of The Smartest Kids in the World and The Unthinkable “A superb memoir from a highly respected neuroscientist who is uniquely qualified to describe her titanic battle against malignant melanoma of the brain. Barbara Lipska clearly believes in those miracles that can be achieved through medical science, and also has an iron resolve to survive. Both qualities underpin this remarkable account of sanity lost and regained.”—Frank Vertosick, author of When the Air Hits Your Brain "An extraordinary chronicle. Barbara Lipska's story is inspiring and painful, but most of all it is a tribute to the human spirit told with the insight of a scientist and the love of a truly compassionate soul. I was hooked from the first page and could not put this down until the final sentence."—Thomas Insel, co-founder and president of Mindstrong Health and former director of the National Institute of Mental Health "In this fascinating book, a neuroscientist describes the terrifying symptoms she suffered as a result of multiple brain tumors. We learn about how the brain can produce bizarre and bewildering symptoms from the point of view of someone who has personal experience of aspects of the mental illnesses that she spends her life studying. The book is compelling and powerful, and hard to put down."—Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London "The doctor becomes the patient in this fascinating memoir."—BookstalkerBlog "Diving inside some of the deepest mysteries of the human mind with someone who has spent her life studying exactly that, Barbara K. Lipska’s The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind describes the leading neuroscientist’s own descent into madness — triggered by an aggressive cancer that spread to her brain, miraculously retreated just months later, and left Lipska not only with her memories intact, but with a whole lot more insight (and even more questions) into the human brain."—Bustle, "14 Debut Books By Women Coming Out In 2018 That You Need In Your TBR Pile"
A vibrant mental health expert's bout with brain cancer and the revolutionary treatments that saved her life.In 2015, Lipska, a veteran neuroscientist and triathlete who studies brains at the National Institute of Mental Health, found herself in a panic while out jogging in her suburban Virginia neighborhood. Without warning, she suddenly didn't recognize her surroundings and became severely disoriented. Her confusion dissipated, and then she received a devastating diagnosis of metastatic melanoma in her brain emerged. The resulting grueling two-month ordeal battling debilitating mental problems forms the core of this intensive memoir. The author briefly sketches the details of her history as a young, ambitious research scientist in Poland who eventually moved her family to America to pursue the study of brain illnesses and schizophrenia. In 2009, she underwent a mastectomy after a breast cancer diagnosis. In frank, unfettered prose, Lipska clearly demonstrates her courage, resilience, and pure dread in the face of disease and adversity. Of the three tumors found in her brain, one particularly "nasty raisin," vexingly located in the folds of her visual cortex," was bleeding. Though excised immediately, the author's mental acuity deteriorated. Through urgent and vigorous passages, the author chronicles a valiant fight for her life, with radiation treatments and an immunotherapy trial, which caused a whole new subset of medical maladies. Toward the end of the treatment plan, her behavior went haywire, and she suffered cognitive impairment, rage, paranoia, and bafflement, all of which crowded out any semblance of rationality. Eventually, however, the treatments worked, and Lipska experienced a miraculous (and statistically rare) "second chance at sanity." Throughout it all, the sheer irony of her ordeal never escaped her: "I am living through some of the processes of a disease that I've spent my life studying and trying to cure."A harrowing, intimately candid survivor's journey through the minefields of cancer treatment.
Neuroscientist Lipska (director, Human Brain Collection Core at the National Inst. of Mental Health) was diagnosed early in 2015 with metastatic melanoma in her brain's frontal lobe. As the cancer progressed and was treated, the author experienced behavioral and cognitive symptoms connected to a range of mental disorders, including her professional specialty, schizophrenia. Lipska's family and associates were alarmed by the changes in her behavior, which she failed to acknowledge herself. Gradually, after a course of immunotherapy, Lipska returned to normal functioning, recalled her experience and, through her knowledge of neuroscience, identified the ways in which her brain changed during treatment. Lipska admits her condition was unusual; after recovery she was able to return to her research and resume her athletic training and compete in a triathalon. Most patients with similar brain cancers rarely survive to describe their ordeal. Lipska's memoir, coauthored with journalist McArdle, shows that strength and courage but also a encouraging support network are vital to recovery. VERDICT Readers who enjoyed Jill Bolte Taylor's My Stroke of Insight and Susannah Callahan's Brain on Fire will find this memoir of interest. [See Prepub Alert, 10/9/17.]—Lucille M. Boone, San Jose P.L., CA