March 3, 2014
My Stroke of Insight
Jill Bolte Taylor found herself interested in neuroscience from a very young ago. Her brother who was only about a year older than her had suffered with schizophrenia, this only made her question the human brain more and more and then she decided to dedicate her life to studying it. She works for the Harvard Brain Bank and is also a successful brain scientist.
But one December morning in 1996, Jill's life had taken an unexpected turn. She was 37, and living in Massachusetts during the height of her career when she had suffered a major stoke. This stroke had taken her from a neuroscientist to as she describes, "an infant in a woman's body", in a matter of hours. This changed her perception of things and she was able to see what exactly her body was made up of, her view of the world would be distorted. “My perception of physical boundaries was no longer limited to where my skin met air,” says Jill.
Stroke is the number one disabler and number three killer of the cerebral cortex of the brain. Jill had experienced a rare form of stroke, which had left her with a clot the size of a golf ball in her head. Her left hemisphere was very heavily damaged and she was working with solely with the remaining right hemisphere. Between all of her surgeries and personal growth, it had taken her eight years to recover.
Dr. Bolte questions herself after the stroke. She questions her identify and who she really is. Since she had lost all her basic abilities, how could she be the same person who she once was? She for sure was no longer a Doctor, she can not remember any of that information, she even worries about her degree being taken from her. Your left hemisphere is in charge of all your memories. The right side is the "here and now" aspect of the brain and the left is in charge of taking that information and making it into memories for you to remember. Jill no longer had this, during her recovery she was only able to understand things going on around her currently.
One very important part of recovery for her is that she fully believes in the power of sleep. The brain needs time to rest and she does not watch television, use the telephone or radio. She knows she has to have the appropriate setting and support to accomplish regaining strength of her left-brain. Her mom stays with her to take care of her and for awhile will only ask her yes or no question because that is the easiest for Jill to understand. Her mother is always encouraging her and they celebrate even the tiniest of achievements to encourage her growth.
"My stroke of insight is that at the core of my right hemisphere consciousness is a character that is directly connected to my feeling of deep inner peace." Because of her very damaged left hemisphere Jill is able to find inner peace within herself. Her bliss makes me her simply at one with the universe, she dismisses verbal abuse and trains her mind to think positively, and to believe that peace is only a thought away, because she is always running happy circuits and repels all others.
I watched Dr. Bolte on Ted talks and seeing her really brings to whole book to life, she is a great public speaker and when you watch her you are able to see how far she has come from that day of the stroke. She explains everything that happened to her and even brings a real human brain onto the set to describe and show how the brain works. By looking at the brain, it is very clear that both hemispheres are indeed separate from one another.
She becomes alive and really animates her book, she goes more into detail about her "lala land", as she calls it, which is her land when her consciousness had drifted away. Everything that was connecting her to the outside world was no longer present and she was alone in her body. Here she had no stress, no worries, no emotion, just pure peace within herself.
I also visited the...
References: "Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center." Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center. N.p.,n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2014.
"Jill Bolte Taylor: My stroke of insight." www.ted.com. Web. 4 March. 2014. <"Jill Bolte Taylor: My stroke of insight." www.ted.com. Web. .>.
"NAMI - The National Alliance on Mental Illness." NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2014.
Taylor, Jill Bolte. My Stroke of Insight. London: Hodder Paperbacks, 2009. Print.
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