Monday, November 14, 2016

Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening by John Elder Robison

When I started reading Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening by John Elder Robison, I hoped to gain insight into Asperger's and what it's like to live with Asperger's. Robison writes a memoir that is at times shockingly honest in that he doesn't present himself as a very sympathetic character. I cringed at some of his interactions with others imagining what it must have felt like for those people. Switched On details Robison's journey to decide to participate in an experimental brain therapy called transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS. He wrote about how this experiment awakened him to not only emotions of the moment but of memories and the emotions attached to those memories. When he describes his reaction to a song after one of his early treatments, I felt like he was describing a hallucination. I found it hard to wrap my head around his experience, and I'm a highly emotional person. He also explored how the therapy opened his eyes to emotional truths he wasn't quite ready to face and how that changed his relationships. There's a sense of detachment and vulnerability that rides just beneath the surface throughout Switched On that oddly kept me engaged during some of the more technical parts of the book. Overall, Switched On is a fascinating examination of the brain, emotions, and humanity.

 

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