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The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery (2018)

por Barbara K. Lipska Ph. D

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23015115,123 (3.48)23
"As a deadly cancer spread inside her brain, leading neuroscientist Barbara Lipska was plunged into madness--only to miraculously survive with her memories intact. In the tradition of My Stroke of Insight and Brain on Fire, this powerful memoir recounts her ordeal and explains its unforgettablelessons about the brain and mind. In January 2015, Barbara Lipska--a leading expert on the neuroscience of mental illness--was diagnosed with melanoma that had spread to her brain. Within months, her frontal lobe, the seat of cognition, began shutting down. She descended intomadness, exhibiting dementia- and schizophrenia-like symptoms that terrified her family and coworkers. But miraculously, just as her doctors figured out what was happening, the immunotherapy they had prescribed began to work. Just eight weeks after her nightmare began, Lipska returned to normal. With one difference: she remembered her brush with madness with exquisite clarity. In The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind, Lipska describes her extraordinary ordeal and its lessons about the mind and brain. She explains how mental illness, brain injury, and age can change our behavior, personality, cognition, and memory. She tells what it is like to experience these changes firsthand. And she reveals what parts of us remain, evenwhen so much else is gone"--… (mais)
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How could her family not insist she get better treatment? I get she was secretive about symptoms and would have been difficult to persuade. But to ignore incontinence and weird behavior? ( )
  cathy.lemann | Mar 21, 2023 |
This was an interesting book about how frontal lobe damage can affect a person's personality. It was a really fascinating story. The only thing that bugged me a little, and the author did address this, was how lucky she was to be someone with so many ins to the medical system. Her children and sister all work in the medical profession and she herself is a neuroscientist, so she had so much more access than normal to doctors and second opinions and the best hospitals. Not to mention that she's also white and wealthy which means even if she didn't have so much access she would still get better health care than a poor person of colour. It's a great story if you're interested in how the brain works and what happens when it doesn't, and it's amazing that the author survived and was able to write this book but it's also very sad to think about how this would have worked out for a different person. ( )
  katebrarian | Jan 3, 2022 |
This is a story about a woman and her family who went through hell and back, also know as cancer. She is a survivor. She is a mother, sister, wife, daughter, grandmother, scientist and researcher are a few more of her titles. This is not an easy story to read, but it gives hope and information about what it is like to be in that mind, to lose it and work on regaining it back. ( )
  RavinScarface | Dec 13, 2020 |
Barbara Lipska is a remarkable scientist with an appalling story that's ultimately inspiring. Within the decade, she survived breast cancer and thereafter a melanoma on her neck. Despite debilitating treatments, she continued to work. Too, she kept fit by running (marathons), cycling, and swimming; in her early 60s, she was preparing to compete in an ironman triathlon.

On the cusp of important scientific confab at a resort in Montana in 2015, she experienced vision impairment and an MRI revealed three tumors on her brain, one of which was bleeding. A brain tumor that bleeds is usually melanoma, and melanoma in the brain is usually a death sentence.

What followed for Dr. Lipska and her family was an often dispiriting trek through a labyrinth of clinics, medical offices, and hospitals, and prognostication sessions with her family doctor, an ophthalmologist, neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists. She consulted doctors in Washington, then in Boston, where her sister Maria is a physicist in the oncologic radiation department of Brigham and Women's Hospital. In Washington, the doctors were intent on doing radiation treatments, followed by surgery. The Boston doctors favored surgery first, with radiation after. She chose the latter sequence, and when surgery removed the bleeding tumor, the vision impairment disappeared. She was accepted into an immunotherapy trial; that trial concluded, follow-up MRIs showed new tumors and significant brain swelling.

An alarming aspect of her illness manifested itself to her family and co-workers though she remained unaware of it. She became testy, angry, hypercritical, demanding. Small issues obsessed her; she'd complain about them for days. She got lost in familiar environments (her own neighborhood, for example) and forgot how to do everyday tasks, like using her cell phone. These are symptoms of mental illnesses.

Here's the twist: Dr. Barbara Lipska is in charge of the Human Brain Collection Core at the National Institute of Mental Health, and has spent her professional career studying the relationships between brain tissue and mental illness. Ironically, her tumors and treatments to eradicate them were pushing her into madness. Those around her were acutely aware of the symptoms; she herself was not.

An excellent book. Both thumbs up!
  weird_O | Feb 6, 2020 |
This was not the same inspirational cancer survival experience as "A Series of Catastrophes and Miracles: A True Story of Love, Science, and Cancer" by Mary Elizabeth Williams. The author, who studied brains at the National Institute of Mental Health, had a much less emotional style. She presented information about the brain and cancer which added to my enjoyment of the book, but I was not enthralled. It was amazing to hear how she continued exercising and working throughout her illness and treatment. However, I couldn't believe that her family didn't intervene at some stage. ( )
  terran | Dec 30, 2019 |
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"As a deadly cancer spread inside her brain, leading neuroscientist Barbara Lipska was plunged into madness--only to miraculously survive with her memories intact. In the tradition of My Stroke of Insight and Brain on Fire, this powerful memoir recounts her ordeal and explains its unforgettablelessons about the brain and mind. In January 2015, Barbara Lipska--a leading expert on the neuroscience of mental illness--was diagnosed with melanoma that had spread to her brain. Within months, her frontal lobe, the seat of cognition, began shutting down. She descended intomadness, exhibiting dementia- and schizophrenia-like symptoms that terrified her family and coworkers. But miraculously, just as her doctors figured out what was happening, the immunotherapy they had prescribed began to work. Just eight weeks after her nightmare began, Lipska returned to normal. With one difference: she remembered her brush with madness with exquisite clarity. In The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind, Lipska describes her extraordinary ordeal and its lessons about the mind and brain. She explains how mental illness, brain injury, and age can change our behavior, personality, cognition, and memory. She tells what it is like to experience these changes firsthand. And she reveals what parts of us remain, evenwhen so much else is gone"--

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