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Cogito ergo sum.

(I think; therefore I am.)

Rene Descartes - French philosopher

Sometimes the most obvious statement can be the most profound.

The first place to start when contemplating Matters of the Mind is to contemplate the nature of the mind itself.  Most of us in this world have at some point thought about the nature of existence and our purpose in being in this place at this time.  But how do we engage in this contemplation?  Quite simply with the most involved and complex organ in our body, the brain.

(For a wonderful background report on issues please follow this link: Special Report )

There is a rather peculiar aspect to this process in that we tend to seperate our use of language and perception from our "physical" being when it is anything but seperate.  The language skills and experiences that we have developed inherently color our ability to observe and quantify our world.

This most complex organ in our body is in many ways separated from the rest of our vision of pathology in most of us because our brain is functioning normally.  Most of us can think and reason and interact with our world quite capably.  Little thought is given to either the complexity of the brain or what can happen if the organ itself fails to function properly.  In large measure we can actually influence some of the activity in our brains by controlling what we provide for our brains as stimulation.  We can read, talk, play and otherwise engage our brain with stimulation that will generally alter how our world appears to us.  But what would happen if that brain, that most complex organ were to malfunction?  It is, after all, a complex physical organ with hundreds of chemicals and receptors that interact in an exceedingly complex array of functions.

Jill Bolte Taylor is a brain researcher who suffered a malfunction in her brain, a stroke, who survived to tell about it and offers her insight into her experience.  For those of us who have family members with mental illness, it is a fascinating journey into one aspect of the health of the brain of which we are all too familiar.  Most of what we see is malfunction of a more limited nature, but the experience of Ms. Taylor is nonetheless relevant to a general understanding of the health of the brain and how it can affect our physical well being and how we interact with our world.


"How many brain scientists have been able to study the brain from the inside out? I've gotten as much out of this experience of losing my left mind as I have in my entire academic career."
Jill Bolte Taylor


As you view the video, contemplate the nature of the brain and its relationship to both the physical nature of our being and also the possibility of what implications of that brings to idea that brains can suffer from a wide range of illness, much of what is beyond our direct control.  Perhaps you can then see clearly how much we have yet to discover about the nature of brain illness and matters of the mind.

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Last modified: 07/03/08