'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
All we think, feel and dream, how we move, if we move, everything that makes us who we are, comes from the brain. We are the brain. So what happens when the brain fails? What happens when we lose our mind?
In January 2015 renowned neuroscientist Barbara Lipska's melanoma spread to her brain. It was, in effect, a death sentence. She had surgery, radiation treatments and entered an immunotherapy clinical trial. And then her brain started to play tricks on her. The expert on mental illness - who had spent a career trying to work out how the brain operates and what happens when it fails - experienced what it is like to go mad.
She began to exhibit paranoia and schizophrenia-like symptoms. She became disinhibited, completely unaware of her inappropriate behaviour. She got lost driving home from work, a journey she did every day. She couldn't remember things that had just happened to her. Small details like what she was having for breakfast became an obsession, but she ignored the fact that she was about to die. And she remembers every moment with absolute clarity.
Weaving the science of the mind and the biology of the brain into her deeply personal story, this is the dramatic account of Dr Lipska's own brilliant brain gone awry.
Dr Barbara K. Lipska is Director of the Human Brain Collection Core at America's National Institute of Mental Health. She is an internationally recognized leader in human postmortem research and animal modeling of schizophrenia. Her primary research interests are in mental illness and human brain development. She conducts gene expression and epigenetic studies in postmortem human brains to investigate mechanisms of brain maturation, the effects of genetic variation on transcription and DNA methylation, and molecular mechanisms underlying schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses. Her job involves the supervision of the collection of more than one thousand human brains, and she coordinates the donation process and distribution of well-characterized brain specimens. Information from these specimens is vital in improving our understanding of the causes of neuropsychiatric disorders and developing new treatments for these disorders. A marathon runner and a triathlete, she is a mother of two children, both doctors. She lives in Virginia with her husband Mirek Gorski.