‘The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind’

August 9, 2018

Can you imagine an intelligent person driven to insanity, getting through the experience, and writing a book about it? Can you imagine a person who suffered greatly from serial cancer attacks and the strong medication used to defeat them, and wrote a book about it? Can you imagine a brain scientist from post-Communist Poland who came to the USA to do cutting edge research while performing grueling athletic feats? Thereafter, this person triumphed over major physical challenges, and wrote a book about it?

If these potential true stories appeal to you, you conceivably might find three books that handle these themes.

Or, alternatively, you might only need to read just one book, “The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind,” and fully experience all of the above. This memoir by Barbara Lipska begins right off the bat with an episode of her terrifying psychotic break, and then, still moving at a breakneck speed, encapsulates her story of scientific research along with her serious medical conditions. Of course, she and her family knew exactly what was happening and used their expertise to enlist the best physicians — with her daughter being a physician and her son operating as a brain researcher certainly didn’t hurt. Tumors would appear and steps would be taken. Her body and mind would be shaken to their foundations as the process went on.

But there was one tragic moment of breakdown in this family cooperative defense against cancer: Dr. Lipska’s brain tumor invaded the part of the brain (prefrontal cortex) and affected her personality. As a consequence, her behavior changed and, while her family noticed this change, no one immediately attributed it to the cancer. When her anger and irritation finally became impossible to ignore, an MRI was taken and, behold — there, again, were the tumors. The struggle had to continue; eventually the family team and their physician allies were triumphant.

Readers of this recent book will stimulate their intellects by learning about current brain research and inspire their souls as they follow this indomitable person’s cancer-defeating story.

Hazel Palmer is a Cabell County resident and supporter of the Cabell County Public Library, where “The Neuroscientist Who Lost her Mind” is available.

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