Mirror Touch: Notes from a Doctor Who Can Feel Your Pain
A doctor with a rare—seemingly superhuman—neurological trait takes us on a compelling tour deep into the human brain in this blend of memoir and scientific exploration that combines the compassionate wisdom of Oliver Sacks and the personal revelations of Jill Bolte Taylor’s My Stroke of Insight.
Dr. Joel Salinas is a Harvard-trained researcher and neurologist with extraordinary gifts that provide him unique access to his patients and enable him to experience life in an extraordinary way. He has mirror-touch synesthesia, a neurological trait that allows him to feel others’ emotions and physical sensations. Susceptible to the pain and discomfort of his patients—most of whom suffer from strokes, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, and a host of other painful disorders and extreme injuries—Salinas uses his heightened emphatic ability—what he calls "compulsory mindfulness"—to help understand and better treat their conditions.
Using his own experiences as a neurologist and synesthete as a narrative through line, Salinas also shares the remarkable stories of equally remarkable subjects who similarly live in a heightened state of awareness, whether because of a congenital condition, after a seemingly debilitating stroke, or amidst an ecstatic seizure.
Written with intelligence and compassion, and anchored by the latest developments in neurology, psychology and psychiatry, Mirror Touch is an enthralling investigation into the power of the brain—one that proves that the mind, in wondrous and mysterious fashion, continues to promise exciting and inexhaustible ways to think, to see, and to be.