Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Ghost in My Brain: How a Concussion Stole My Life and How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Helped Me Get it Back” as Want to Read:
The Ghost in My Brain: How a Concussion Stole My Life and How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Helped Me Get it Back
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Ghost in My Brain: How a Concussion Stole My Life and How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Helped Me Get it Back

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  547 ratings  ·  105 reviews
The dramatic story of one man’s recovery offers new hope to those suffering from concussions and other brain traumas
 In 1999, Clark Elliott suffered a concussion when his car was rear-ended. Overnight his life changed from that of a rising professor with a research career in artificial intelligence to a humbled man struggling to get through a single day. At times he could
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published June 2nd 2015 by Viking
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Ghost in My Brain, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Juliana This book has now been completed and reviewed. The content provides insight into Elliot Clark’s recovery from trauma and does this best visually by pr…moreThis book has now been completed and reviewed. The content provides insight into Elliot Clark’s recovery from trauma and does this best visually by providing graphics to see progress of healing, for health.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  547 ratings  ·  105 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Ghost in My Brain: How a Concussion Stole My Life and How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Helped Me Get it Back
Bacon Nivison
Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
10 years ago I was involved in a "terrible accident" in which I experienced severe brain damage. Unconscious for 3 months, I, a former "gifted underachiever" awoke to a world of confusion. A world in which my humanity was gone. I've learned to control myself in order to function in the normal world and have become what is called a highly functional concussive, but I'm still not me. Far from it. This book was very well and thoughtfully written. It is a must read for anyone battling with their own ...more
Sep 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: concussion/brain-injury patients and their friends/family
Recommended to Linda by: New non-fiction shelf at the library
Shelves: non-fiction, science

The Ghost in My Brain is an intriguing trip through traumatic brain injury, written by a university professor who suffered a severe concussion in a car accident and dealt with confoundingly debilitating effects for years afterward, until he finally, serendipitously, came across two specialists who had developed unusual therapies that produce significant improvements in the injured brain. After working with them, Clark Elliot's life is completely turned around. He goes from a life dominated by hi
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
More reviews at

Dr. Clark Elliott’s medical memoir, The Ghost in My Brain, is one of the best I’ve read. Elliott, who is a PhD teaching Artificial Intelligence in Chicago, describes the effects of a concussion like nothing else I’ve seen. To discuss the resulting book and it’s descriptions as impressive is only part of the story. Once you read how damaged Elliott’s brain was, you’ll be stunned he was able to write such a cogent and compelling book.

I have a dear friend who’s ex
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bs-pabluim
First 2/3 good; went off the rails after that

Despite the fact that Norman Doidge, while not Daniel Amen, moves further away from actual science with each new book, I was willing to move past his highly enthusiastic blurb and read. Ditto, despite not knowing much about either doctor, or the claimed techniques (not listed on Skeptic's Dictionary), and so I read on.

Then, near the end of the book, when he talks about his personal treatment from Markus and even more from Zelinsky, he zooms into anecd
Apr 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A Personal Account of What Suffering from a Concussion is Like

In 1999, Clark Elliott was in a fairly minor automobile accident. He had a moment of blackout, but thought that his symptoms would quickly pass. They didn't. He experienced intense pain in his skull, suffered balance problems, had trouble thinking for any extended period of time, and suffered bouts of nausea when concentrating hard.

Medical professionals were unable to help him, suggesting that he learn to live with his symptoms. Clar
Jun 29, 2016 rated it did not like it
Don't let the title fool you. This was written for the express purpose of the author telling you how smart he is/was. While I don't doubt that this guy had the symptoms that he describes I am not so sure that they were from a minor head injury. The convenience of his severe symptoms that make him unable to make a sandwich but still able to work as a professor and "singlehandedly" raise 6 kids is a bit preposterous. How he manages to actually get married, have a baby, yet go no help from the wife ...more
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent memoir on what it's really like to live with concussive symptoms and how he (the author) was able to heal himself.
Beth Stillman Blaha
Mar 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book as an advance copy in exchange for a review from Viking.

Often when I read nonfiction books that have to simplify concepts in science, those with formal academic training in that discipline complain that it is too oversimplified, or in the worst case scenario, wrong. I have dabbled in neuroscience in my training as a Psychologist and I am happy to report that this book takes on a giant topic and makes it accessible to the general public. It was not a light read and not for wh
Kent Winward
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the better traumatic brain injury books that I have read, Elliott is articulate and shows just how debilitating and maddening TBIs can be. His story also raises some serious questions about how we should approach brain injury treatment and in that regard other mental health issues that are the result of how our brains process information, whether the damage comes from blunt trauma or psychological trauma.

First, medical professionals need to learn to work from a baseline for the patient.
Dana *
Aug 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Do book editors still exist? If one did for this book, they would have condensed the first 240 pages into maybe 40 pages. This would have helped the author not sound so pompous, confused, non-sensical and contradictory. How does a person go from barely able to walk and speak to raising a 2 year old child? Those are demands that cant be half way met.
The author spent too much time trying to convince me of their high functioning and superior intellect and then the extremity of their symptoms. The r
Jun 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
I was interested in this book because my husband suffered a traumatic brain injury over twenty years ago, which has dramatically changed both of our lives. We listened to the audio version together and both of us found ourselves in tears at numerous times. It was a relief for my husband to have found that there was someone else out there who could describe what he has gone through in such clear detail. And, it is a relief for both of us to know that there is hope in the research that is being do ...more
Mitesh Patel
Nov 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is an exceptional book. It is sadistic to think that "it was the right thing that happened to Dr. Elliott" but because it happened to him, he turned that into an opportunity for others like him to use similar approaches. The two heroes of the story are two cutting age brain researchers in Drs. Zelinsky and Dr. Donalee who are doing significant work in this field. Several parts of the book go off the top due to their technicalities and yet many are surreal and almost transcendental. Great bo ...more
An AI PH.D. Suffers from TBI and documents his experience post accident from describing his physical and mental experience and his quest for treatment. Notes, this isn't a scientific treatise by specialist. This is autobiographical with a scientific bent due to the author being in academia.

Some items are interesting to note, but there,s disonnect between the impairments suffered, the energy it drains and yet still being able to drive a car. I found myself more interested in the authors audiophil
Jackie Goss
Aug 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was the first I have read of amazing new concepts via optometry and rerouting thought and visual perception to create new brain pathways for for people suffering the effects of concussion. I wonder if any of it could relate to other types of brain damage, or autism, etc? It is very detailed, having been written by a professor who was suffering from the effects of a severe concussion, but well worth reading.
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazingly helpful, hopeful, and interesting book for anyone who has suffered from concussion(s) or is interested in brain plasticity - from a layman's perspective (a very smart layman). It seems we are only just learning about the long-term effects of concussion and how the brain can be made to adapt and retrain itself.
Aug 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Since I am suffering from a severe concussion, the last part of the book was the most interesting to me (how he recovered with the help of some really cool science) not only for me personally, but also how his treatment may help others with learning disabilities and possibly ADHD as well.
Jan 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
I was hoping this would be more about the Brain Plasticity and the steps he went through to recover, not the long drawn out explanations of the symptoms (effectively disconnects in the brain making simple cognition and daily activity difficult).
Chris Barker
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazing. Such phenomenal insight to the inner workings of the brain and the way we use relationships built throughout life as a cornerstone for understanding the world as we move through it. Clark is very articulate and the way he describes what's missing after the accident is enlightening.
Dec 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Very very detailed description of symptoms. I liked the first parts the best. I like the way the author’s computer science background described his experience in great detail. Part 3, which showed his healing process was a bit challenging to understand/get through other than glasses & exercises helped. ...more
Amanda Delfin
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 31, 2015 rated it liked it
I didn't particularly care for the layout of this book. While the material was compelling, it was relayed in a disparate, confusing timeline that made any understanding the experiences the author was having quite impossible. For instance, the passage in which he was reminding himself of whether or not he had children every morning came after talking about being primarily the single parent to his 2 yr old. I don't see how this reminder would be necessary in such a situation unless this is before ...more
Feb 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Fascinating book. Elliott does a marvelous job of conveying the absolute confusion and frustration of his post accident condition. He progresses through the book from that time, which dragged on for a miserable eight years, to his first meeting with the first medical professional who actually listened to his carefully notated descriptions of his symptoms. The following sections of the book describe the series of excercises and the corrective lenses that eventually lead him back to the person he ...more
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abnormal-psych
I am extremely interested in cognitive neuroscience. Indeed there is some interesting information in here about the strangeness of the human brain. The book details an AI professor's search for help in curing his TBI, acquired in an auto accident in 1999. He attempts to detail as much of his journey as possible in the hopes of helping people understand what it is like to live with TBI.

I agree that more awareness is needed, and I often like when scientists give a first hand account of something
Fr. Ted
Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
I was drawn to this book from an article I read about the author in which he described the various elements in our bodies and brains which help maintain balance. If for example one has damage to the inner ear, the brain relies more on sight for maintaining balance. My spinal stenosis has left my feet very numb, which causes some balance problems for me, which my brain compensates by relying more on my eyesight. Close my eyes or cut off my sight from the world around me and my balance problems be ...more
Dec 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
I had to stop reading this book the narrators voice was so self aggrandizing that I couldn't take it any more. He acted like he did everything without any help from anyone. I have no doubts about the trouble that he had after concussion however I had to stop read after he said that he was talking on his phone and driving at the same time which has already been shown to be more dangerous than drinking and driving.
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Very depressing. But made me understand Justin's concussion syndrome better. And gave us hope that the magic glasses will fix him. Potentially life changing.
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Intolerably boring. Got 2/3 of the way through and never got to anything that may have been useful. Couldn't bear to read any more.
Monica Willyard Moen
This book was challenging to read for two reasons. First, the ideas in the book about cognition and how our brain works, as well as how our brains can heal, we’re challenging to understand from the point of you of someone with a traumatic brain injury. Brain plasticity is something I am very motivated and interested in understanding because I have some damage from having several small strokes. So this is a personal challenge to understand, not just a theoretical one.
The second reason this was ch
Lis Carey
In 1999, Clark Elliott was a research professor with a rising career in artificial intelligence. Then he was the victim of a rear-end car collision, and his life was transformed overnight.

Simple tasks had become difficult. He sometimes had difficulty remembering his children's names. He sometimes had difficulty walking through doors, or down corridors. He had difficulty making decisions--simple decisions. A sign on a shop door saying "Come in" once held him in place for several minutes, knowing
This book does a disservice to the cause it is trying to promote: awareness and treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury.

Like Maureen Seaberg's Tasting the Universe (synthesia), Clark Elliott's narrative is off-putting, alternating between segregating and offensive or boring and repetitive.

I'm all for solving your own problems, taking strength by your own will, and determining your own path, but what I'm not for is putting other people down, righteous and superior in your path.

The narrative has o
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Noughts & Crosses Sequence Boxset
  • The Man Without a Shadow
  • Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller
  • One Child by Torey Hayden Summary & Study Guide
  • The Tiger's Child: What Ever Happened to Sheila?
  • The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister
  • Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament
  • The Secret Wife of Aaron Burr
  • The Safe Place
  • Death in Mud Lick: A True Story of Corporate Pill Pushers in Small Town America
  • Concussion Rescue: A Comprehensive Program to Heal Traumatic Brain Injury
  • The Brain's Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity
  • The Art of Raising a Puppy
  • The Paris Seamstress (Free Preview: Chapters 1-4)
  • Churched: One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess
  • The Majesties
  • Apeirogon
  • Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia
See similar books…

News & Interviews

The must-read summer beach book is a kind of American tradition. The crash of the waves. The glare of the sun. The sand in the pages. Is t...
52 likes · 28 comments