Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor

Jill Bolte Taylor was a well-respected neuroanatomist affiliated with the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center. In 1996, she suffered a severe stroke. The stroke quickly robbed her of her ability to speak, understand much language, move normally, or perform basic tasks.

She made a full recovery, although it took her eight years. She still is a well-respected neuroanatomist, currently at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Her knowledge and training as a neurologist, not to mention the fact that she remembers every bit of the process, has given her a unique insight. Her book, My Stroke of Insight, is valuable in two ways. First, it contains advice for stroke patients, as well as for caregivers, family, and friends who interact with people who have recently been disabled by strokes.

Second, it contains fascinating insights into how brains tick, and the differences between the left and right hemispheres. Taylor's stroke knocked her left hemisphere largely out of commission. She slowly recovered its functions over the following months and years. So here we have a trained neurologist who can speak articulately about what it feels like to only have the right side of your brain functioning.

Anybody interested in the neurological underpinnings of spirituality will find a lot to think about here. With her left hemisphere out of service, Taylor experienced a feeling of peace, of oneness with all things, of nirvana. Her brain was no longer capable of differentiating between self and not-self. Was this a brain defect? Or was it something we can try to emulate occasionally? Can it be both? Is it possible?

Even before reading Taylor's book, I knew her story from the talk she gave on in 2008. Here she is, on her stroke:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hearing all of what Jill has to say only makes my faith stronger that we are all here for a reason, even if that reason is deeply hidden within us, she teaches us to push the negative away and look deeper into oursalves to find the peace that we all hold.