How I Rescued My Brain by David Roland
Through his work as a forensic psychologist, David Roland spent years grappling with matters of the mind. Indeed, the emotional pressure of supporting his patients in their mental-health problems coupled with personal and financial stresses led to Roland’s own struggles with anxiety and depression. When he finds himself in an emergency ward, with no idea how he got there or why, it seems likely that he’s suffered a nervous breakdown.
That Roland had in fact suffered a stroke, and resulting brain injury, proved far scarier. Faced with the fear that he has lost his mind, and might not get it back, Roland’s journey to recovery sees him engaging with both medical and spiritual experts and strategies: doctors, neuroscientists, psychotherapists, yoga teachers and a Buddhist nun, to name just a few.
While Roland’s breadth of research is ambitious, what he offers is accessible, often moving and always personal. His experiences shape the narrative arc of the memoir, but How I Rescued My Brain is more than just one man’s story of remarkable cognitive recovery. Roland offers an impressive translation of psychology and neuroscience for a lay audience. This thoughtful book works to reframe our view of how minds work more broadly, and how we come to terms with who we are. Roland hopes to provide insights and inspiration for readers, regardless of what their journey to emotional wellbeing entails.
Despite his academic background, it’s Roland’s vulnerability that keeps his memoir emotionally intelligent and engaging. Even the books cover design, featuring kintsukuroi, a Japanese technique of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer, evokes a lovely metaphor: ‘the understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken’.
Stella Charls works as a bookseller at Readings Carlton.