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Giles, Y. (2010). Jill Bolte Taylor: My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2008. ISBN: 978-0-340-98048-4, 183 pp., £12.99.. Neuropsychoanalysis, 12(1):95-96.
(2010). Neuropsychoanalysis, 12(1):95-96
Jill Bolte Taylor: My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2008. ISBN: 978-0-340-98048-4, 183 pp., £12.99.
Review by: Yeates Giles
There is an increasing proliferation of personal accounts from those who have survived acquired brain injuries of many kinds. All are extremely important, placing the survivor's subjectivity firmly within the public domain—an essential accompaniment to the burgeoning neuroscience literature that, while fascinating, often objectifies.
Within the body of first-person accounts, a number have been written by neuroscientists, medics, and/or mental health professionals who have sustained a brain injury or other neurological condition. A useful compendium for these narratives has been provided by Narinder Kapur (1997) in his Injured Brains of Medical Minds.
My Stroke of Insight by Dr Jill Bolte Taylor is the latest addition to this genre, and her perspective is unique. Prior to her left-sided hemorrhagic stroke, she was a neuroanatomist. Indeed, she had initially turned to the level of anatomy to understand and explain schizophrenia. From growing up with a brother diagnosed as schizophrenic, Jill's life moved toward the dissection and analysis of postmortem brains to develop a biological account of psychosis, alongside an impassioned teaching of neuroanatomy to college students.
It is from this radical materialist position that Jill sets about narrating, explaining, and recovering from her stroke and the severe communication difficulties that it initially created. The first few chapters present a basic grounding in neuroanatomy with a strong lateralization focus, establishing a dominant lexicon for the rest of the book.
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