‘My Stroke of Insight’ Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

        I have not read this one yet, but it is on my ‘must’ list.  Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is a neuroscientist by profession who shares her insight into the illness of stroke.  Her book is titled ‘My Stroke of Insight.’

        She knows, and both from a right brain and left brain perspective, because she suffered a stroke herself a few years back.  Like many of us as medical professionals, prior to her stroke she was a left brain human.  Logical, organized, driven, time pressured etc.  I am not judging.  Lord knows I have plenty of ‘Type A’ to go around.

        When she had her stroke she knew it was in the left side of the brain, because she began to lose the use of her right hand, and her speech began to get garbled.  As it progressed, an odd thing happened.  Her right brain took over, and she began to experience an unexplained tranquility.  It was like she was able to step outside herself and look at the situation with near bemusement.  She began to think, “Well, isn’t this interesting?  My, my.  It sure is peaceful over here.”  (Paraphrased)

        The left side fought back.  “What are doing?  You are a scientist.  This is a stroke.  Call 911!”

       She never forgot the feeling, though.  Her full recovery took years, but as her left brain came back to normal, she was still able to tap into the right side and access all those warm fuzzies.  Even after the resolution of her stroke she did not lose that ability.  I think her book is very important.  If we read it with passion we might learn more about how to access both sides of our brain with equal ease.

        I am reminded of the early days when I began to write my book.  Some days I’d come in from work and start to type.  I was still in left brain mode.  I’d send it to my agent and he’d say, “You wrote this like a doctor.  It’s terrible.  Do it over.” 

        He thought about how to break this pony for a while. One day he called.  “I don’t want you to ever write a word until you have strung your mandolin around your neck and played until you have logged into your right brain.”

        It worked.  In fact, what few times I tried to get speed up the process and get it by him he’d notice right away.  “Tear it up.  Go get out your mandolin.”

        The last time I saw Wayne and Kristin Scott Benson we got into a discussion about Ms. Taylor’s book. I told Kristin that I looked forward to the read, but at the same time I had a notion I understood what the doctor was trying to say. 

        Kristin looked at the mandolin case at my feet and smiled.  “That’s how you get there, Doc.”

        How come woman are so intuitive?  She 100% got it.  The mandolin and writing has always taken me over to the tranquil side.  I just didn’t have to suffer a stroke to get there.  I bet there is a lot to learn from Dr. Taylor as to how to access it with more efficiency.  Or maybe I am just too danged left brain-ed analytical about it all, who knows?

      In my next post I plan to share some about the Wayne Benson left-brain right brain balanced mandolin method.  One time I told Kristin it seemed to me Wayne understood the why of how he played better than any great player I’d ever worked  with.

       She just smiled and nodded.  I’m sure she must have wondered how old Doc could be so slow to understand.  To her, as a woman, an artist, and as Wayne’s wife, that understanding was second nature.  It takes a community to make a right brain artist out of a left brain doc, but with the help of ‘The Mandolin Case,’ I’m getting there.

Dr. Taylor’s web site is:  www.drjilltaylor.com

Dr. B

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16 Comments on “‘My Stroke of Insight’ Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor”

  1. Billy Says:

    I saw Dr. Jill several years ago on Charlie Rose. Her story is amazing and very important for anyone who writes stories or plays music to understand.

    The famous author and writing professor at Ol’ Miss, Barry Hannah, once gave a lecture where he pulled out a box of crayons. He said they were his secret keys to writing because they unlocked his creative brain.

    When you suffer from writer’s block, start drawing. I’ve tried it several times. IT WORKS!

    • drtombibey Says:


      She is an amazing woman. After I saw her on T.V. I had to write her. I wanted her to know she was an inspiration to me as both a doc and an artist.

      She wrote back and said she wished me well on my journey and to keep up the search for the truth. My agent has always said that as artists that is what we must do, and I will press on.

      Hm. I guess with crayons we try to reach back and find what the Lord gave us as children, but then we abandoned in the left brain adult world.

      Dr. B

  2. Mrs. Chili Says:

    Success Warrior just sent me that book; I haven’t read it yet, but I’m eager to. Mr. Chili heard an interview with Dr. Taylor on NPR and told me we needed to read the book. Once school settles down, I’ll probably read it aloud to him.

    • drtombibey Says:


      After you read it, send us a report or post one on your blog and I’ll send everybody over there. I’d love to know what you think about it.

      Still on go for mine in 2010. Even though we’re not signed yet, I have all faith.

      Dr. B

  3. This is fascinating, Dr. B. I really want to look up that book now. It’s amazing that you can write better, or more like a writer, after playing the mandolin and activating that creative side of your brain. You’re one lucky man, though, to have both sides of your brain so talented and active!

    • drtombibey Says:


      I am about 80% left brain and 20% right. Come to think of it that is the same mix I have as doc and artist!

      I expect Dr. Taylor’s book is a very cool insight into the brain of a doc, and is one I have to read.

      Dr. B

  4. Felix Miller Says:

    Dr. Taylor’s story is extraordinary, for sure. I heard an interview with her sometime in the past year, and found the story of her recovery incredible. I believe her mother moved in with her and helped her with everything from basic care to prompting her recovery of brain function and memory. What a journey she took.

    The division of the brain into logical right brain, and conceptual, emotive left brain has always interested me. As for my brain function, the percentages are probably 10% each side, and 80% wanderings of mind. Focus is not my thing. Heh.

    • drtombibey Says:


      She is remarkable. Perhaps the all-time lemonade out of lemons saga.

      From your last sentence I would say you are a true artist.

      Dr. B

  5. Parson Bob Says:

    Left-brain Bob sez he looked all over for “A Stroke of Insight” and found it under “My Stroke of Insight”! At least the library has it…thanks for the post.

  6. debbietalley Says:

    Thank you – I enjoyed your post! I can understand and find when I do listen to music, knit or tap into the other side of my brain, inspiration comes easier!

    • drtombibey Says:

      Ms Talley,

      Hey, thanks for your visit. I know you are right. My wife does a lot of that kind of work and plays the bass. All the right brain business is intertwined around our place. I believe via art we are better off as we try to deal with what can be a crazy world.

      Dr. B

  7. oralette Says:

    Hi Dr B.

    I’m glad I visited your site. I kind of understand what happened to Dr Taylor. I’m a psychotherapist who in the midst of it all was diagnosed as being bi-polar. Whilst it was a shock to me at first, it was an interesting experience because I was able to observe first hand some of the extreme states of mind I had only heard about and dealt with in theory (albeit with empathy. My recently completed book ‘The Woman in the Mirror’ was based in part upon that journey and where it took me.
    I’ll have a look at Dr Taylor’s Website. Her book sounds interesting.

    • drtombibey Says:


      When I get sick I call it ‘being on the other end of the stethoscope.’ (like when I had a kidney stone) You are right, there is nothing like being there in terms of the development of empathy.

      Appreciate your visit and I hope you’ll drop back by.

      Dr. B

  8. sensit Says:

    You may find interesting to read Buddhism-influenced review of My Stroke of Insight by Dr Jill Bolte Taylor


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