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.
At the height of her career, 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 exhibited dementia- and schizophrenia-like symptoms that terrified her family and coworkers. But miraculously, the immunotherapy her doctors prescribed worked, and Lipska returned to normal. With one difference: she remembered her brush with madness with exquisite clarity. Lipska draws on her extraordinary experience to explain how mental illness, brain injury, and age can distort 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.
About the Author
BARBARA K. LIPSKA, Ph.D., is director of the Human Brain Collection Core at the National Institute of Mental Health, where she studies mental illness and human brain development. A native of Poland, she holds a Ph.D. in medical sciences from the Medical School of Warsaw, and is an internationally recognized leader in human postmortem research and animal modeling of schizophrenia. Before emigrating from Poland to the United States, Dr. Lipska was a researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology in Warsaw. She has been at NIMH since 1989 and has published over 120 papers in peer-reviewed journals. A marathon runner and a triathlete, she lives with her husband, Mirek Gorski, in Virginia.
ELAINE McARDLE is an award-winning writer and journalist who has written investigative stories, features, and news for many publications including the Boston Globe, Harvard Law Bulletin, and Boston Magazine. She is the coauthor of The Migraine Brain: Your Breakthrough Guide to Fewer Headaches, Better Health (Free Press). A senior editor at UU World magazine, she lives with her husband Jack McGrail in Portland, Oregon.
An iBooks Favorites selection for April
Included in the Top Ten of Publishers Weekly's "Spring 2018 Announcements: Memoirs and Biographies"
“A harrowing, intimately candid survivor's journey.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Oliver Sacks meets When Breath Becomes Air in this fascinating, page-turning account of insanity. Barbara Lipska's remarkable story illuminates the many mysteries of our fragile yet resilient brains, and her harrowing journey and astonishing recovery show us that nothing is impossible.” — Lisa Genova, New York Times best-selling author of Still Alice and Every Note Played
"A riveting science story about how brains go bad, interwoven with the remarkable personal story of one brain going spectacularly bad. A total nail-biter." — Lisa Sanders, New York Times best-selling author of Every Patient Tells a Story
“A spellbinding investigation into the mysteries of the human brain, led by a scientist whose tenacity is as remarkable as her story.” — Amanda Ripley, New York Times best-selling author of The Smartest Kids in the World and The Unthinkable
“A superb memoir from a highly respected neuroscientist who is uniquely qualified to describe her titanic battle against malignant melanoma of the brain. Barbara Lipska clearly believes in those miracles that can be achieved through medical science, and also has an iron resolve to survive. Both qualities underpin this remarkable account of sanity lost and regained.” — Frank Vertosick, author of When the Air Hits Your Brain
"An extraordinary chronicle. Barbara Lipska's story is inspiring and painful, but most of all it is a tribute to the human spirit told with the insight of a scientist and the love of a truly compassionate soul. I was hooked from the first page and could not put this down until the final sentence." — Thomas Insel, cofounder and president of Mindstrong Health and former director of the National Institute of Mental Health
"In this fascinating book, a neuroscientist describes the terrifying symptoms she suffered as a result of multiple brain tumors. We learn about how the brain can produce bizarre and bewildering symptoms from the point of view of someone who has personal experience of aspects of the mental illnesses that she spends her life studying. The book is compelling and powerful, and hard to put down." — Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, professor of cognitive neuroscience, University College London
"Diving inside some of the deepest mysteries of the human mind with someone who has spent her life studying exactly that, Barbara K. Lipska’s The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind describes the leading neuroscientist’s own descent into madness—triggered by an aggressive cancer that spread to her brain, miraculously retreated just months later, and left Lipska not only with her memories intact, but with a whole lot more insight (and even more questions) into the human brain." — Bustle, "14 Debut Books by Women Coming Out in 2018 That You Need in Your TBR Pile"