The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Stroke survivor tells story of recovery

Jill Bolte Taylor
CASEY LEE/The Daily Campus
Jill Bolte Taylor

Jill Bolte Taylor (CASEY LEE/The Daily Campus)

Nueroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor is extremely thankful for both for her life and her fully functioning brain after suffering a rare form of stroke.

She shared gratitute with her audience Tuesday night when discussing how she rebuilt her own brain.

Taylor, an esteemed nueroanatomist, gave a speech in McFarlin auditorium, as part of the Tate lecture series. She focused on the beauty of the brain when it is healthy and allowed to function properly. Drawing from both her knowledge of the brain and her personal experience with brain damage, Taylor remarked continuously throughout her speech that she hoped the audience would have a greater appreciation for this incredible organ.

Flashing pictures of post-mortem brains onto the screen Taylor drew similarities between the audience and the brain.

“You all look like a big brain to me,” she said. “It’s beautiful!”

Taylor encouraged the audience to see their brain as a “life force power.” She said that understanding your brain as a powerful organ will allow humanity to be made more humane.

“You have the capacity to change everything that happens in the city of Dallas,” Taylor said.

After explaining the more technical aspects of the brain in layman’s terms, she broke down the components of human life. She divided the brain into the left and right sides, expounding upon the common knowledge they control, structural vs. creative, respectively.

A technical account of the different lobes was then given.

After taking a moment to breathe and take a drink of water, Taylor began to tell the story of Dec. 10, 1996. She was carrying out research and teaching at Harvard, having a great time, unaware that the migraines she experienced were actually a brain abnormality.

Taylor described the feeling of losing her sense of reality as euphoric. “Imagine what it would be like to lose 37 years of emotional baggage,” she said.

When she realized that she was having a stroke she remembers realizing what an interesting opportunity it was for her. After all, most brain scientists are not offered the opportunity to study their own brain from the inside out.

She said that she thought to herself, “I’ll do this stroke thing for a week or two.”
As Taylor’s story was drawing to a close and she was encouraging the listeners to build lifelines in case of an emergency, shouts of panic rose among the crowd.

“Is there a doctor in the house? Someone call 911.”

A hush fell over the crowd and as the paramedics arrived to deal with a young male, who is reported by the Tate Usher staff to have merely passed out, Taylor carried on with respect. She asked that for a moment the audience “Hold in our hearts openness, compassion and love.” For a moment her voice choked, but she was able to quiet the murmurs of the crowd by continuing her speech.

After sharing her journey with the crowd, she urged the audience to live a healthy life respecting the ‘life force power’ that is the brain, an organ contained in every human being.

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