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

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“Switched On” is an eye-opening book with a radical message, but because Mr. Robison is who he is (logical, direct), he addresses even the most provocative questions unprovocatively.
-NY Times

Synopsis

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

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST

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
 

About John Elder Robison

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JOHN ELDER ROBISON lives with his wife and son in Amherst, Massachusetts. His company, J E Robison Service, repairs and restores fine European automobiles.
 
Published March 22, 2016 by Spiegel & Grau. 321 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Nature & Wildlife, Professional & Technical, Science & Math, Health, Fitness & Dieting. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Switched On
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Above average
on Nov 24 2015

He is optimistic about the direction of the research. A fascinating companion to the previous memoirs by this masterful storyteller.

Read Full Review of Switched On: A Memoir of Brai... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Aug 13 2016

...though his experiences are mostly positive and the treatment has real potential, not everyone who undergoes it responds the same way. Robison's memoir contains as much vulnerability and honesty as it does discussions of neuroscience and autism.

Read Full Review of Switched On: A Memoir of Brai... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Jennifer Senior on Mar 20 2016

“Switched On” is an eye-opening book with a radical message, but because Mr. Robison is who he is (logical, direct), he addresses even the most provocative questions unprovocatively.

Read Full Review of Switched On: A Memoir of Brai... | See more reviews from NY Times

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