Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening
Publisher: Random House (Audio)
Date: March 2016
Duration: 11 hours 22 minutes
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 weve 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 Aspergers 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 worlds 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
"A fascinating companion to the previous memoirs by this masterful storyteller." - Kirkus Reviews
"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
"Robison is an extraordinary guide, carefully elucidating the cutting-edge science behind this revolutionary new brain therapy, TMS, alongside the compelling story of the impact it has on his relationships, his thinking and emotions, and indeed his very identity. 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 Robisons lived experience." - Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Effect
"In this fascinating book John Elder Robison raises deep questions: What does TMS do to the brain? Will it permanently change his experience of music, his emotions, and his ability to read faces? And if autism involves disability as well as talent, if we alter the different wiring in an autistic brain, is this a good thing? Robisons honest, brilliant, and very personal account helps us understand the perspective of someone living with autism." - Simon Baron-Cohen, professor, Autism Research Centre, Cambridge University
"A remarkable, engaging, and moving story . . . It is a strikingly moving personal narrative about the nature of emotion, and about the opportunities afforded us when we seek to understand neurological difference." - Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD, from the foreword
From the Hardcover edition.