Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Brain Scientist Jill Bolte Taylor Talks About Her Stroke

And the "euphoria" and "nirvana" she experienced when her left brain went offline.

From her bio:
"Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is a Harvard-trained and published neuroanatomist. She specializes in the postmortem investigation of the human brain.

On December 10, 1996, Dr. Taylor woke up to discover that she was experiencing a rare form of stroke, an arterio-venous malformation (AVM)."
The account she gives in this video of losing her sense of self - the boundaries of where her skin stops and the background emerges - is extraordinary. Her unique training in brain science coupled with an ability to articulate this experience is rare. I was riveted.

An excerpt:
"It was as though my consciousness had shifted away from my normal perception of reality where I'm the person on the machine (she was on a cardio-glider exercise machine) having the experience to some esoteric space where I'm witnessing myself having this experience."

"I'm standing in my bathroom getting ready to get into the shower ... I lost my balance and I'm propped up against the wall and I looked down at my arm and I realized I could no loner define the boundaries of my body. I can't define where I begin, and where I end, because the atoms and the molecules of my arm blended with the atoms and molecules of the wall."

"Because I could no longer identify the boundaries of my body I felt enormous, and expansive. I felt at one with all the energy that was, and it was beautiful there. And all of a sudden my left hemisphere comes back on line and it says to me "Hey! We got a problem. We got a problem. We've got to get some help."
I loved her description of brain circuitry ... the right brain processes in parallel, the left brain in series. It exemplifies the left brain's temporal quality (its associations with time, linearly - past, present and future), but the right brain's preoccupation with the present.

No comments: