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Finished reading My Stroke of Insight.

A nonfiction story of a brain scientist who experienced an arteriovenous-malformation stroke, the rupturing of blood vessels in the brain causing (temporary) disablement of the left hemisphere and impaired motor function of one side of the body. And the recovery process.

Because of how different parts of the brain are responsible for different functions, the stroke caused a loss of the ability to speak words, read or write, plus a bunch of other stranger ones- the sense of ‘boundaries between objects’ and the ‘boundaries between oneself and objects’, sense of 3D.

The fact that it was a brain scientist who experienced this firsthand, who has background knowledge about what is happening, lent itself to a lot of really interesting anatomical descriptions and detail.

Through years of successful therapy the scientist’s abilities returned one by one.

Although, the scientist still found a sense of longing for experiencing that same emptiness, that ‘nirvana’ feeling that went along with losing so much of your ordinary functions and the sense you have of your identity. It came as a surprise to be magically finding bliss after a devastating neurological event.

Until the last part, great. Then it descends into this weird, self-help-y, new-age mysticism… lending serious credibility to Reiki and Angel Cards without using the word ‘placebo’? They lost me at ‘energy dynamics’ and ‘transmitting energy from one human to the other’. To have this good opportunity for learning from a brain scientist only to hear a bunch of mysticism, was a bit demoralizing.

All the same it was good times. There were descriptions of this serious, worldly detachment that can happen through something as simple as physical manipulation of the brain. And how there is not really one brain, but two, halves that can exist independently, even if the connection between them is totally severed. And how we can remove parts and survive, but with different functions. While our brains and senses are our only window to the world, I find it comforting, somehow, the way this book describes how manufactured our experiences are.

May 4th, 2016 at 10:06 am