Book Review: “My Stroke of Insight” by Jill Bolte Taylor

I recently read (actually listened to) the book My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor. It was an extraordinary book on the workings of our brain and the functions of the left and right brain! There is so much information to gain from this book that I am listening to it a second time! (I listen to audio books going to and from work everyday.) I find it absolutely amazing that this lady, a neuro-anatomist, was able to document her actual stroke AND the following 8 years of recovery such that we could all benefit from the insight and experience! When else have we as a people ever been able to find out what it is like for a stroke patient, what they are going through, what they best need to recover, and how they need to be treated during recovery? Neurologists everywhere must be in awe to have such a resource for helping to understand the human brain and how it works.

I especially found the inter-relations of the 2 sides of the brain particularly intriguing. Since Dr. Taylor’s left brain was compromised from the stroke, she was left to exist mostly in her right brain in the early post-stroke months. The absence of the left brain’s functionality allowed her to retreat to an existence that reminds me of what Eastern religions typically called nirvana or meditative enlightenment. I believe that her right-brain experiences could actually explain much of what people attribute to their religious experiences. I think it is very interesting how she saw the energy that everything and everyone around her had and how that energy seemed to flow from one to another. That we are all part of that same energy and can affect each other by taking away that energy or giving to that energy. That we are all a part of the world’s energy.

Additionally, I learned that the left brain is responsible for linear, sequential thought to a much greater extent than I realized. That it defines the “edges” of our very being, the group of atoms that define us as an individual. That the left brain is responsible for the concept of time, past and future. The right brain only understands the “here and now” and has no concept of the passage of time. I loved that escaping into the right brain brought a sense of peace and serenity and a muting to the constant internal brain chatter that existed when the left brain was working properly. There is so much to learn and gain from this doctor’s experience. I highly recommend everyone reading this book and gain a better understanding of the human brain and it’s elasticity.


About Cindy

I am a wife to a wonderful hubby and mother of fraternal twin boys (born 6/28/1998). I enjoy family vacations/travels, my photography and acrylic painting hobbies, and anything else I feel like writing or sharing!
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8 Responses to Book Review: “My Stroke of Insight” by Jill Bolte Taylor

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  2. This looks like a great book and I too feel that energy that connects us all… I’m going to send your review to a friend who is recovering from brain surgery. Maybe this book will be helpful for her.

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  4. J M Pontius says:

    It’s good to hear that others use right-brain activities to ‘escape’ from the rigors of the left brain. I personally use gardening, reading, and listening to soothing music to move into the serenity and peacefulness that I need to feel really good. Life is so much calmer and more enjoyable when I can stay tuned in to the deeper inner sense of tranquility that comes from being aware of the energy within all of us. Yes, we all have part of that universal energy in us. How nice to be able to recognize it.

    • Cindy says:

      Wouldn’t it be great if we could just flip a switch to turn off the left brain once in a while just to see what it’s like to be only in the “here and now”? I believe that’s what many people who meditate are trying to do, but it would be awesome if it were much easier to do! 🙂

  5. Tracey says:

    Very interesting Cindy, I will have to add this to my reading list~ I often experience these differences when I paint. I call it the “zone” because when I focus on my work only I loose all track of time and it so peaceful, much like a “spa day” if you will. In order for me to paint the way I need to I let the left side take a break~ lol 🙂 Thanks for sharing this, sounds very good~ I may show my son who wants to specialize in neurology~ 🙂

    • Cindy says:

      That is very cool, Tracey. I have not painted in about a month now because with the coming of Spring, things have become really busy. But I want to get back to it because I know that it helps me find balance in my life, giving me a right-brain activity to balance out all of my daily left-brain must-do’s! 🙂 I just feel better when I can do that. I never thought about how it puts me in the “zone” like you say, but I think that it does and that must be why I enjoy it so much!

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