What It Feels Like To Have A Stroke

While watching a series of TED Talk videos, I came about a presentation by this brain doctor, who in 1996, experienced a massive stroke in her left brain. As the other half of her brain was still functioning, she was aware of what was happening, but only from a right brain perspective. Luckily, she survived, and is now able to share with us her experience through her books and her presentations.

Her name is Jill Bolte Taylor, her book is “My Stroke of Insight“, and her TED Talk is available on YouTube, currently viewed more than two million times. She’s also guested at Oprah where she talked about her experience in more detail.

What caught my attention is what she experienced when the left side of her brain was essentially shut down due to the stroke. She lost certain abilities normally associated with the left side of our brains, such as language, logic, and numbers. She was unable to speak, and was unable to recognize letters and numbers.

Amazingly though, having the left side of her brain essentially shut down seem to have allowed the right side of her brain to function freely and without restriction. From the way she described it, some of her senses such as hearing and feeling were magnified. She also claims she lost her concept of “self”, her “ego”and she felt one with humanity… one with the universe.


Lost her ego? One with humanity? One with the universe? That sounds like how Buddha would have felt when he achieved enlightenment. Is it possible Buddha achieved his enlightenment by consciously shutting down his left brain?


When she mentioned she lost her language abilities and it felt like she was inside her own reality, I was reminded of autistic people. Jill would describe herself as an “infant inside a woman’s body”, which is how a lot of people would describe some autistic people as well. Is it possible autistic people are just people whose brains are wired differently, with more connections in the right brain?


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