The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind

The book title, The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind, presents an intriguing promise that is kept by Barbara K. Lipska writing with Elaine McArdle in her memoir. While she’s at it, she adds amazement to the organ that is the brain, first from her scientific knowledge and second from firsthand experience. The irony of melanoma spreading to the brain of a person who is an expert in the neuroscience of mental illness and has an understanding of what is happening makes the book infinitely fascinating.

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Almost as interesting as the memoir itself are her comparisons of how what is happening to her holds similarity to others with dementia, schizophrenia, and other mental challenges. Her reflections after the ordeal is over explain her own lapse of control of her own emotions and actions and why and how this parallels to other mental illnesses. Her additional assessments of how behaviors and memory change with age, brain injuries, or mental illnesses are helpful in understanding memory loss and changes in behavior and personality. 

The important learning from the book is woven into a nail-biting narrative of Barbara’s battle with the brain cancer that seems destined to take her life and behavior that terrifies her supportive family and coworkers. I was glad I could count on a good ending since I knew she was author of the book. The fact that her memory and reason returned intact seems equally miraculous and medical. 

I recommend the book to anyone who loves a suspenseful memoir and to anyone who is touched by someone with any type of mental illness.