Switched on

Switched on

A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening

Book - 2016
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Random House, Inc.
An extraordinary memoir about the cutting-edge brain therapy that dramatically changed the life and mind of John Elder Robison, the New York Times bestselling author of Look Me in the Eye


Imagine spending the first forty years of your life in darkness, blind to the emotions and social signals of other people. Then imagine that someone suddenly switches the lights on.

It has long been assumed that people living with autism are born with the diminished ability to read the emotions of others, even as they feel emotion deeply. But what if we’ve been wrong all this time? What if that “missing” emotional insight was there all along, locked away and inaccessible in the mind?

In 2007 John Elder Robison wrote the international bestseller Look Me in the Eye, a memoir about growing up with Asperger’s syndrome. Amid the blaze of publicity that followed, he received a unique invitation: Would John like to take part in a study led by one of the world’s foremost neuroscientists, who would use an experimental new brain therapy known as TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation, in an effort to understand and then address the issues at the heart of autism? Switched On is the extraordinary story of what happened next.

Having spent forty years as a social outcast, misreading others’ emotions or missing them completely, John is suddenly able to sense a powerful range of feelings in other people. However, this newfound insight brings unforeseen problems and serious questions. As the emotional ground shifts beneath his feet, John struggles with the very real possibility that choosing to diminish his disability might also mean sacrificing his unique gifts and even some of his closest relationships. Switched On is a real-life Flowers for Algernon, a fascinating and intimate window into what it means to be neurologically different, and what happens when the world as you know it is upended overnight.

Praise for Switched On

“An eye-opening book with a radical message . . . The transformations [Robison] undergoes throughout the book are astonishing—as foreign and overwhelming as if he woke up one morning with the visual range of a bee or the auditory prowess of a bat.”The New York Times

“Astonishing, brave . . . reads like a medical thriller and keeps you wondering what will happen next . . . [Robison] takes readers for a ride through the thorny thickets of neuroscience and leaves us wanting more.”The Washington Post

“Fascinating for its insights into Asperger’s and research, this engrossing record will make readers reexamine their preconceptions about this syndrome and the future of brain manipulation.”Booklist

“Like books by Andrew Solomon and Oliver Sacks, Switched On offers an opportunity to consider mental processes through a combination of powerful narrative and informative medical context.”BookPage

“A mind-blowing book that will force you to ask deep questions about what is important in life. Would normalizing the brains of those who think differently reduce their motivation for great achievement?”—Temple Grandin, author of The Autistic Brain

“At the heart of Switched On are fundamental questions of who we are, of where our identity resides, of difference and disability and free will, which are brought into sharp focus by Robison’s lived experience.”—Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Effect

Baker & Taylor
A follow-up to the best-selling Look Me in the Eye continues the story of the author's struggles with autism, recounting how after undergoing an experimental brain therapy he began to experience empathy in ways that challenged his perceptions about his relationships, memories and sense of identity.

& Taylor

A follow-up to "Look Me in the Eye" continues the story of the author's struggles with Asperger's Syndrome, recounting how, after undergoing an experimental brain therapy, he began to experience empathy in ways that challenged his perceptions about his relationships, memories, and sense of identity.
"When John Elder Robison published Look Me in the Eye, his darkly funny bestselling memoir about growing up with Asperger's Syndrome, he was launched into international prominence as an autism expert. But in spite of his success, he still struggled to decode the secret language of social interactions, and often felt like a misfit who understood car engines better than people. So when a group of Harvard neuroscientists told John about TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation), an experimental brain therapy that promised to remediate the disabilities of autism and unlock his emotional intelligence, he jumped at the chance to join their study. Switched On recounts the adventure that followed, as John became a guinea pig to the world's top brain researchers inan effort to understand the social and emotional deficits that lie at the heart of autism, with electrifying results. As Robison describes his transformation: "For the first time in my life, I learned what it was like to truly 'know' other people's feelings. It was as if I'd been experiencing the world in black and white all my life, and suddenly I could see everything--and particularly other people--in brilliant beautiful color.""--

Publisher: New York : Spiegel & Grau, [2016]
ISBN: 9780812996906
Branch Call Number: 616.858832 R569s
Characteristics: xxii, 296 pages ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Pascual-Leone, Alvaro


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Jan 03, 2017

What a fascinating book. I listened to this book which was read by the author. At first it put me off because his narration seemed a bit stilted and when listening to an audiobook the narrator can really make it or break it for me. However, I realized that this book was unique in that it was giving me a glimpse into this man's experience as someone with aspergers and his manner of speaking seeming somewhat off putting to people is something he is aware of and has to deal with every day. Was I listening to this just to be entertained or did I want to learn something? So I kept on with it and soon the narration was just fine and his style was part of his story. And what a story he has. This is not his first book although it is the first one I have read. He has written before about what living with Aspergers is like and has become a popular and much in demand speaker at conferences and on boards etc. He has had several different successful careers, mostly entrepreneurial and is looked up to by many. He is extremely self aware and can write about his experiences clearly.
This book focuses on his involvement in a research study to see if sending electromagnetic energy into precise locations in the brains of people with Aspergers would increase their emotional intelligence, turn on those parts of the brain that help us interpret other's meaning through facial expressions, tone of voice etc. Robison was enthusiastic to try the experimental therapy even when his family members were apprehensive. You're going to try and change your brain? What if you're not you anymore? Would this change his relationships to others? What if turning up his emotions turned down the amazing mechanical abilities he had which he had used his whole life in various careers? It's not really a spoiler to say things do change for him or there wouldn't be a book. It's so intriguing to read about his experiences, both wonderful and sad as a result of the therapy and brings many more questions about how all of our brains work and make each of us who we are.


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