My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.

My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D Book Cover on Keyboard with brain picture brown keyboard and book cover for book recommendation

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This is at once an intriguing personal story, a place to learn a little about the human brain, and a home for ideas and frameworks concerning human interaction.  Anyone who has a brain and a heart can learn something here!  I think that’s a pretty sweeping recommendation.  The author had a stroke, and this book explains a lot about that.  Equally or maybe even more interesting is her take on what approaches should be taken to help wounded people heal.  This is a paraphrase by me, but an idea that struck me is that cognition or ability or intelligence is often incorrectly measured by how rapidly a person responds.  Wouldn’t it be better to notice how creative or strategic people are in using associations to respond?  Paraphrase done. 

 I noticed with my first (and each succeeding) child how creative they were at taking something that was a common point of reference and making an “ersatz” word (or description) for something they didn’t yet have a word for.  Wish I’d written all of them down!  In common with many households, we came to have our own words for things.  For example, a certain type of cookie was asked for as “munchies and crunchies.”   While we may have fun with a little one who is developing speech, how often do we take the time, calmly and lovingly, with someone who has some type of injury?  There are many things that can cause a person to struggle with speech.   Once we visited a nursing home on Valentine’s Day and handed out Valentines to everyone there.  It was a lot to give out and I was too hurried.  I walked up to a man in a wheelchair, wished him a Happy Valentine’s Day, and handed him a Valentine.  He looked at me and took the Valentine, but I was several steps away when I heard his gruffly rendered “Thanks.”  It turned out he had a tracheotomy and it took him a moment to be able to respond.  I felt very bad I had rushed, and I felt like I learned a lesson that day.  Did I, though? It’s a lesson I have to consciously apply. I still tend to get in a rush, and I have to think about it. I appreciate that this book reminds me to feel and think, to be more mindful of people. 

It’s a wonderful thing that each of us is so similar, and yet unique.  It is and ever will be a timely message to have brought to the forefront of our minds.


This Abibliophobe