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The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind

My Tale of Madness and Recovery

9781328787309

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Available: 04/03/18
6 x 9 · 208 pages
9781328787309
CDN $35.00 · cl

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Barbara K. Lipska, Ph.D and Elaine McArdle


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 hernightmare 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 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.


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.