My Stroke of Insight

My Stroke of Insight

A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey

Book - 2008
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Dr. Jill Taylor, a brain scientist in her mid-thirties at the Harvard Brain Bank, underwent a stroke that rendered her non-verbal and barely able to move in the course of a single morning. Over the next eight years Dr. Taylor worked to regain all of her cognitive and physical abilities, becoming completely healed. The book is her account of undergoing the stroke and her eight-year route to being whole once more. It is an amazingly detailed account of how the brain functions: what happens in the brain during the a stroke, and the brain’s miraculous capacity for recovery. For anyone who is caring for a stroke survivor, this book provides a wealth of clear and simple information on the conditions needed for healing. It was recommended to me by someone who had undergone a (minor) stroke himself – he loved it and so did I! The audio book is read by the author herself. (submitted by TH)

Dec 14, 2016

About plasticity of the brain. Really entertaining.

Jan 18, 2016

Jan 18 2016, I am not finished this book yet, but it will be one I will be recommending to everyone I know. I believe that Jill Bolte Taylor is a bit of a wonder woman, and while I don't believe I could ever accomplish what she has done, (either pre-stroke or post-stroke!) I found this book truly inspiring. I believe it will help me as I work with my Mom, (who is slowly losing it) and I certainly hope that if I ever have a stroke, or a brain injury of any kind, that someone in my circle of caregivers will have read this book! (Note: I read the book while listening to the audio book. The audio book is narrated by the author, and is a great addition to the book. However, there are several simple drawings in the book that would be missed, so if you can get them both at the same time, that would be ideal.) I see that another book 'Stronger after Stroke' is recommended below in another comment. I will check that one out as well.......Jan 21 2016, One point I will take away from this book is the fact that we only have to experience any one emotion for 90 seconds. After 90 seconds, we choose to remain in that emotion, or direct our brains in another direction. I will keep that in mind!

Nov 24, 2015

The book is not one thing or another. The subtitle "personal journey" tells all. Some brain science, some recovery advice (for this particular event), some mindfulness, though she doesn't call it that. It was recommended to me because I had had a stroke, but I found nothing helpful or insightful about it.

Nov 28, 2014

My rating is of the audiobook, read by Dr. Taylor herself. Not just another plucky inspirational memoir, this one is firmly grounded by Taylor's fierce intellectual curiosity and good humor. It gave me a whole new perspective on where in our brains our 'personality' actually resides, and started me on a new approach to my chronic depression.

Nov 27, 2014

Excellent read. I recommend this to everyone even if you think you aren't interested in strokes. I read this book after I watched Jill and Oprah's interview on youtube. Do both.

WVMLStaffPicks Sep 17, 2014

This story recounts Harvard trained neuroscientist Jill Taylor’s debilitating stroke and subsequent recovery. She explains the science of the brain, what happened during her stroke, the experience of losing her left brain functionality, and the state of inner peace observed from the functioning right hemisphere. Her insights into the needs of stroke patients provide an invaluable tool for caregivers and families of stroke patients.

Mar 27, 2014

I found this book very insightful into the actual experiences a person could have with a stroke. It was informative regarding what is needed by the person who has experienced a stroke. Of course, this would probably not apply to all persons since we are all unique and there are varying types of strokes. But, I suggest this title as a must read to help caregivers and family increase their awareness and understanding from the stroke suffers' point of view.

Feb 04, 2014

Contrary to other reviews, I'm not a fan of this book. While Ms. Bolte's story is interesting, it speaks to one type of rare stroke. I hope this book doesn't lead readers to believe that others who have had a stroke experience her nirvana-like world; especially those with right side arterial occlusions (a far more common stroke). Their experiences are very different. This book was recommended to me by a social worker after my husband had a stroke, and I found the book, "Stronger After Stroke" to be a much better resource.

bibliotechnocrat May 04, 2013

This is the fascinating account of a brain scientist who has a stroke. Because of her neurological training, she is able to identify and articulate the different brain functions affected as the trauma progresses. What's more, her observations will make you think about issues ranging from spiritual insight, to childhood perceptions.

It is an astonishing journey. Ordinarily, we don't think about the two halves of our brains working together because their cooperation is just given; in Bolte Taylor's case, the left brain gradually shuts down due to the stroke leaving her perceptions solely reliant on right brain functions. Her descriptions of a world perceived through the right brain sound exactly like the nirvana that the Buddha points toward. The absence of monkey-mind chatter, the timeless quality of the Now (which describe my memories of childhood), the deep inner peace - it's physiology meeting spirituality. If the case studies of Oliver Sacks interest you, you'll eat this book up.

The first three chapters focus on simplified neuroanatomy. If you're like me, and narrative works better than textbook study, start with chapter 4. The book also contains advice for helping people recover from brain trauma events.

Check our the author's TED talks lecture on Youtube.

Jan 23, 2013

excellent book - both the description of her stroke and the story of her recovery. great insight into the differences between the right brain and left brain.

niftygal Dec 30, 2012

Suggested 2013 reading - Shelly Rose

Apr 05, 2012

A harvard trained brain scientist describes second by second what is happening to her and her perceptions as she is having a stroke - a blood vessel bursts and leaks blood into the left side of her brain.
She goes on to talk about the left and right sides of the brain and how we need to listen to our right brain which" thinks in pictures and perceives the big picture of the present moment" whereas "our left mind thrives on details, details and more details". The left is the logical half and the right is the artistic half. She maintains we need to live more in the moment and quiet the incessant inner chatter from the left brain which is what happened to her during her stroke - almost like being stoned on acid where each moment is consumed only with the task at hand and all else is meaningless.

Mar 11, 2012

I found the description of the stroke disturbing, thinking of people I've known who've gone through this, but the recovery was inspiring. I've long been interested in the differences between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and Taylor's exploration of this is thorough and fascinating. Some short sections early in the book are drier and more technical but the rest is gripping.

Jan 02, 2012

This is just an excellent nonfiction book. The author is so inspiring, and her story is amazing. One of life's required reads. I expected a first hand account of what having a stroke and recovering feels like, and this part was interesting, but she also offers a beautiful and unique insight into the power of our brains, and our ability to be human.

lieslok Mar 31, 2011

Still in the process of this book, but I'm thoroughly enjoying this, as it brings me back to my Biology and Psychology courses I took in college. Taylor does try to "dumb down" the scientific jargon in the novel for people who aren't as familiar with neuroanatomy, but I would not say that she writes like a "boring scientist". Her writing is extremely rich with emotion, metaphors, and clear imagery of her experience. The point of the book is for people to become aware of what a stroke is, it's symptoms, the effects it has on different portions of the brain, and what an actual stroke victim feels like. This is anything but boring! But if you don't like to learn about human anatomy and what makes us who we are, then this book is not for you.

Mar 10, 2011

A first hand account of a stroke. It’s amazing how she not only survived but was also able to write about it after. Interesting topic and perspective but unfortunately she writes like a boring scientist.

Oct 24, 2010

My Stroke of Insight
by Jill Bolte Taylor

I liked the recommendations she gives for rehabilitation after a stroke. Her advice is not only suitable for caregivers but also for the medical team involved in the recovery. The author explains with great simplicity the way our brain works in a way I had not seen explained before.
For more go to

Jul 28, 2010

This is a fascinating book on several levels. The story of Dr. Taylor's experience undergoing and recovering from a massive hemmorhagic stroke gave some terrific insights into caring for stroke victims. It was also an interesting exploration of the relationship between the two hemispheres of the brain and the function of each. Dr. Taylor lost and then rebuilt the neural pathways on the left side, and was able to actually choose to leave un-built those learned responses that didn't serve her. A very thought-provoking book.

Feb 17, 2010

inside view of stroke from the patient view point

Nov 12, 2009

Good explanation of the functions of the right and left brains. Sometimes a little too detailed in regards to the anatomical information. Great insight as to the needs of stroke victims, when they are unable to express themselves.

Aug 30, 2009

Marvellous book...a "must read".

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