Jill Bolte Taylor was working as a neuroanatomist when she got to have a very personal experience with her own brain at age 37: a stroke. At first, perhaps surprisingly, she didn’t realize what strange thing was happening to her, and then, after she did understand what was going on, she tried very hard to figure out how to get help, which had become a huge challenge. She also observed from the inside all the fascinating breakdowns that were happening in her own brain functioning that she’d only studied about in others.
Taylor explains in detail in My Stroke of Insight how it felt to have a stroke and then how it felt to get treatment and to work toward recovery. She says she was fortunate all along the way to have good support and intervention at crucial times. Today, she is fully recovered from the stroke and continues her work in neuroanatomy. She learned some valuable insights from the stroke, such as what other stroke survivors may need to best recover and how the brain functions. Most importantly, it seems, she learned how she can have some control in what her brain tells her to do, in her thought patterns and behavior, and how to tap in to the best parts of her brain and her character. She shares these insights in the book and tells readers many times how they can find joy and peace like she experienced during her stroke without having to go through the same experience.
My Stroke of Insight is a fascinating window into how it feels to lose function in your brain and body, but it is more than a memoir. It is almost a self-help book by someone who fervently wants others to find out how to find balance by “stepping to the right” side of their brains. Those who are interested merely in Taylor’s stroke experience might find this book a bit soft, but others might enjoy and find value in her psychological and “mystical” insights.