My Stroke of Insight

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My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey
My Stroke of Insight.jpg
AuthorJill Bolte Taylor
CountryUnited States
Publication date
May 12, 2008
Media typePrint (Hardback)

My Stroke of Insight (2008) is a non-fiction book by American author Jill Bolte Taylor. In it, she tells of her experience in 1996 of having a stroke in her left hemisphere, and how that gave her insight into brain functioning, particularly as it relates to the different functions of the two brain hemispheres. It is Taylor's first book.

Critical reception[edit]

Desmond O'Neill, M.D. writes in the New England Journal of Medicine, that although the account is gripping and insightful, that it is "burdened by an interpretation of stroke through the narrow lens of hemispheric function." He also argues that the advice Taylor gives to stroke patients might not be valuable for all stroke patients.[1]


The book was initially released in October 2006 as a paperback by the author through the self-publishing company Lulu. It was then sold to Viking and published in hardcover, by Viking, on May 12, 2008 (ISBN 0670020745). Audio and E-book versions were also released. The paperback edition was released May 26, 2009, by Plume (ISBN 0452295548).


Cedar Lake Ballet Company made a ballet about My Stroke of Insight called Orbo Novo. The piece's title is drawn from a 1493 reference to North America by Spanish historian Pietro Martire d'Anghiera. But the "new world" that Cherkaoui is exploring is current theories about the brain, and the text that the 17 dancers speak during the first moments of the 75-minute work comes from My Stroke of Insight, neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor's uncanny recollection of her stroke. The choreography is based on the ramifications of a single resonant idea: the duality between rationality (the left brain) and instinctive, sensual responses (the right brain); between control and the lack of it; between balance and instability, solitude and society.[2] "Thus were the dancers speaking Taylor's words (“My spirit soared free like a great whale gliding through the sea of silent euphoria”), while they physically embodied brain waves and misfiring synapses, with a nod, perhaps, to the double helix: rubbery splayed limbs; über-arched backs; ever-rippling torsos." [3] “‘Orbo Novo’ is a humorous and insightful take on (Taylor’s) story,” said dancer Jubal Battisti. “It has a lot to do with the hemispheres of the brain switching between left and right and what that reveals.” [4]


  1. ^ O'Neill, Desmond (2008). "My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey". New England Journal of Medicine. 359 (25): 2736. doi:10.1056/NEJMbkrev0805088.
  2. ^ "Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui Tries Getting In Our Heads".
  3. ^ "Cedar Lake Ballet at UCLA - Review". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ "Not The Typical Ballet Show".

External links[edit]