Friday, March 21, 2008

TED Talks - Jill Bolte Taylor -"My Stroke of insight"

I've chosen this post as my contribution to How to Cope with Pain March Blog Carnival. Check pout the other posts in the carnival at

TED Talks published this remarkable story of Jill Bolte Taylor, brain researcher, who had the presence of mind to observe her own responses during a stroke.

Fascinating. I can identify with some aspects. From time to time I experience this euphoric state, in the past immediately after a severe migraine, during out of body experiences and once with self hypnosis used to deal with pain. I can remember as a child on two occasions looking down on myself, once when ill and again when I fell from a boat. I watched myself swirl over and over in the dirty water curled up in, as you describe, an embryo shape. I remember it as a euphoric experience. I was about 5 and was over 50 years ago. I was interested in your description of your changed body perception and loss of proprioception. To a much lesser extent I now at times experience this and then have to retrain myself as to where hands, back etc are, re learn. I have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (RSD) which "spreads" by smudging the brain's neurotag. The new brain science and understanding of the part the brain plays in pain management is remarkable. I now treat pain with mirrors. I've also realized that brain retraining can be done using various modalities and methods. Just now I 'm receiving Yamamoto New Scalp Acupuncture with quite remarkable results. As to taping into the right side of the brain in a deliberately to improve life or quality of life and/or perceptions, I think this may be what various practices may do. By this I mean the "balancing" in acupuncture, yoga, meditation, neuro linguistic programing, hypnosis etc.
There is much food for thought here. This video lends more weight to the importance of understanding the part the both sides of the brain play in our perceptions and opens us to possibilities.


Barbara K. said...

Thanks for finding and posting this clip - truly fascinating. I am very interested in all the ways you have found to retrain the brain. I am learning a lot from your blog.

jeisea said...

Hi Barbara
Glad you find something of interest here. I'll soon be posting lots of links to research. Yesterday I created a new link section (top left) where I'll post mirror therapy research etc links).
At first I was so relieved to discover mirror therapy. I read Ramachandran's writing, came across Dr Lorimer Moseley's research in a google search on CRPS and could see the possibilities. I waited till I had a single sided problem (as against whole body all at once) and began what I thought made sense using a mirror. Since that discovery I've come to the realization that there are many things you can do to retrain the brain and also to enrich the retraining experience. An example of this is that if I'm moving my arm in front of a mirror, I can add to this experience by chewing gum, wearing perfume ( burning inscense), listening to various music (singing), having a fan blow on me (heater) etc. Each added thing changes the brain inputs and is a new experience which builds on the "OK" message.
I've also learned that things which activate the parasympathetic nervous system such as hypnotherapy, meditation, acupuncture, yoga, taichi etc also retrain the brain with this same message. To me the most important thing seems to be to do "normal" movements. Things that distract you and require normal movement (such as the WII game mentioned on the How to Cope with Pain website
How To Cope With Pain Blog
retrain the brain that all's well and in the case of the WII, that "all is OK and that these movements are also fun" - a powerful message.
This might be a lesson for physical therapists, "put some fun into therapy".
Please ask if I am able to help you in any way.

Anonymous said...

I've been recommending "My Stroke of Insight" to everyone I know. It's the best book I've read all year! You can get Jill's book from Amazon for a good discount.
Here's the Link

jeisea said...

Thanks for this link. Much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I read "My Stroke of Insight" in one sitting - I couldn't put it down. I laughed. I cried. It was a fantastic book (I heard it's a NYTimes Bestseller and I can see why!), but I also think it will be the start of a new, transformative Movement! No one wants to have a stroke as Jill Bolte Taylor did, but her experience can teach us all how to live better lives. Her speech was one of the most incredibly moving, stimulating, wonderful videos I've ever seen. Her Oprah Soul Series interviews were fascinating. They should make a movie of her life so everyone sees it. This is the Real Deal and gives me hope for humanity.

Anonymous said...

The New York Times Sunday Newspaper on May 25 had a great two page article on Jill Bolte Taylor and her book, "MY STROKE OF INSIGHT". Her book is a must read and this NY Times article - called "A Superhighway to bliss" is worth checking out too.

jeisea said...

Thanks for this. There is much food for thought.

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