The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery
A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Biography & Memoir Pick
An Amazon.com "Best Books of the Month" Selection
Featured on the BBC, NPR, Der Spiegel, and elsewhere
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 unforgettable lessons 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 into madness, 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—along with co-writer Elaine McArdle—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, even when so much else is gone.
Praise for The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind
"Urgent and vigorous...A harrowing, intimately candid survivor's journey through the minefields of cancer treatment." Kirkus Reviews
"Fast paced...exhilarating." Publishers Weekly
"Oliver Sacks-meets-When Breath Becomes Air ... Barbara Lipska's remarkable story illuminates the many mysteries of our fragile yet resilient brains." Lisa Genova, bestselling author of Still Alice and Every Note Played
"Barbara Lipska ... provides readers the opportunity to foster a 'sense of connection with others who suffer' and to combat continued stigmatizing of mental illness. Lipska's evolution as scientist, patient, and person explores the physiological basis of mental illness, while uplifting the importance of personal identity. True as it is that '[w]e are our brains,' her story is evidence that rich personal narratives offer value to an empirical pursuit of neuroscientific investigation." Adam Hayden for Science
"Lipska recounts her ordeal with equal parts raw honesty and clear-eyed conviction." BookPage
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- Barbara Lipska's website
- The official website of neuroscientist and author Barbara K. Lipska
- A neuroscientist who lost her mind says it can happen to anyone
- October 19, 2018
- Wie eine Hirnforscherin den Verstand verlor
- Der Spiegel
- August 24, 2018
- She made a career out of studying the brain. Then hers veered off course.
- Washington Post Magazine
- August 6, 2018
- Brain cancer made this neuroscientist lose her mind
- New York Post
- April 18, 2018
- 'I was a monster': Mental health scientist who beat stage 4 cancer describes shock at failing to recognize her own delusions brought on by the treatment that saved her life
- Daily Mail
- April 13, 2018
- I’m a Neuroscientist Who Studies Mental Illness. Here’s What Happened When I Lost My Own Mind.
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- The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
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- BBC World Service
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- "A neuroscientist's battle with brain cancer prompts a personal reflection on identity and the disease process"
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- Psychology Today
- March 7, 2018