Quicklet on Jill Bolte Taylor's My Stroke of Insight

by Anne Lund

What's in the book?

Quicklets: Your reading sidekick!

    • About the Book
    • About the Author
    • Overall Summary
    • Introduction
    • Chapter-by-Chapter Summary and Analysis
    • List of Characters and Relevant Organizations
    • Key Terms & Definitions
    • Interesting Related Facts
    • Sources and Further Reading

Description

ABOUT THE BOOK

Curled up into a little fetal ball, I felt my spirit surrender to death and it certainly never dawned on me that I would ever be capable of sharing my story with anyone.

In 2006, ten years after she recovered from a debilitating stroke, neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor self-published her book, My Stroke of Insight. The book is, as Taylor describes in her introduction,  “a chronological documentation of the journey I took into the formless abyss of a silent mind, where the essence of my being became enfolded in a deep inner peace.” Taylor’s aim was to share the unusual story of a brain scientist experiencing her own cerebral hemorrhage, the resulting journey to an inner state of  bliss, and subsequent recovery. The book’s online success was fueled by a riveting  video, then followed by an appearance on  Oprah. Eventually, the book was sold to Viking Press and published in hardcover, subsequently becoming a number one bestseller.

EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK

She then tried to blurt out the words, “This is Jill, I need help!”  Apparently Vincent could only discern grunts on the other end of the line, but he recognized Taylor’s voice and understood she was in trouble. Employing similar painstaking methodology, Taylor was also able to reach her doctor.

While she awaited help, Taylor alternately spent time engulfed in bliss, and then periods feeling despondent with the awareness of her mental degeneration. As a scientist, she was aware of the implications of her stroke and already grieving the possible loss of her life and/or potential for severe brain damage. When her colleague finally arrived and while she was being transported to McClean hospital, Taylor felt herself let go:  “My body fell limp and my consciousness rose to a slower vibration...in the absence of sight, sound, touch, smell, taste, fear, I felt my spirit surrender its attachment to this body and I was released from pain.”

Chapters 7, 8, 9:  Bare to the Bone, Neurological Intensive Care, Day Two: The Morning After

With my mind stripped of its ability to recall the memories and details of my previous life, it was clear to me that I was now like an infant--born into an adult woman’s body. And oh yes, the brain wasn’t working!

After being rushed Massachusetts General Hospital, Taylor felt swarmed by medical personnel who poked and prodded her, disrupting her peace. She wanted to be left alone. Eventually she passed out completely. When she awoke she was surprised that she was still alive. Her head throbbed and she realized she had lost all knowledge of who she was, all information held by her left brain, and was now rendered essentially an infant.

Despite the discomfort and pain she felt the first day, the stroke was also a dawning of a new kind of recognition. She knew somehow she had lost herself, that the persona of Dr. Jill Taylor constructed and defined by her left brain had died. But concurrently, she realized she was now free from the trap of identity...

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