“One of the greatest blessings I received as a result of this hemorrhage is that I had a chance to rejuvenate and strengthen my neurocircuits of innocence and inner joy.” — Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight

In 1996, neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor suffered a massive brain bleed in the left hemisphere of her brain (the analytical side). It took eight years to fully recover. While obviously one of life’s little ironies that a brain scientist has a stroke, it also was an enormous life-altering experience, and I think Taylor believes it to be for the better. Taylor describes her physical and mental reactions as the stroke occurs and shuts down her mental reasoning bit by bit. She experiences bliss and Nirvana as her right hemisphere was allowed free rein of expression and feeling, of losing the boundary between self and other, which Taylor describes exquisitely.

The book goes beyond the disease of the month and explores the functions of the brain in defining ourselves and our relationship to the world and the universe. Without really mentioning God, the book delves into what our brains are doing as we believe in God. Is God in our neurons? Our soul? And where is our soul — the left or right side of the brain? The right side, the feeling side, would be the natural seat of God, but what if, God being unexpected and all, God is to be found in the left hemisphere?

I am writing this mini-review before I finish the book because I’m that excited about it (I only have a chapter to go, so forgive me). I highly recommend it for science fiction writers. Inner space — between our ears — is the next great frontier. It’s not all cyberspace (thankfully). Physicists are searching for the “God particle” but are brain scientists closer to finding God?


Susan · July 28, 2009 at 1:46 am

Thanks for sharing that about Dr. Taylor. Have you seen her AMAZING TED ttalk – that was the most incredible rendition of her story that I’ve ever seen – http://www.ted.com/talks/jilltaylor.
I want to have what she had – without the stroke of course!

Patrice Sarath · July 28, 2009 at 4:46 pm

I haven’t seen her TED talk but I’ve heard other people talk about it. I did hear her interview on NPR and that was what led me to her book.

I find it fascinating that we can achieve this great expansion of consciousness and it’s a function of our cells and our brain chemistry, and yet it has such deep meaning that goes beyond what we consider “meatspace.”

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