My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor


Kindlebook.  Jennifer recommended this book about a neurobiologist who had a hemorrhage in her left brain.  She knew what was happening to her and the story of the stroke itself and her 8 year struggle to recover is wrenching and enlightening.  As the damage of the stroke spread on the morning it occurred, she worked to get help for herself, but had trouble summoning the telephone number of her workplace.  By the time she punched in the numbers, she was unable to talk, but fortunately, the co-worker who answered recognized her voice.  When she was in the hospital she could see and hear, but without her left brain to make sense of it, she felt assaulted by unbearable sounds and bright light.

Her right brain became ascendant and made her see herself as merely a part of the universe, not a separate being.  She lost her sense of her physical self — where she ended and the wall began.  This gave her a feeling of joy and release.  She says her right brain wants to be free of the body and this was part of the reason it was so hard to get help for herself.  Without her functioning left brain, she had no sense of loss or deficiency. 

Her recovery was achieved with the vital help of her mother, who moved in with her and taught her everything.  At one point her mother asked her what one plus one was.  She thought a long time and asked her mother, "what is a one?" 

She is recovered, but to a different life.  Her right brain, the compassionate, empathetic part of our brains is much more important than it was. 

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