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Health Information Lunchtime Lecture Series: "Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole"

Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 01:00 to 02:00

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Please join us for our lunchtime lecture where Dr. Allan Ropper and Brian Burrell will discuss their book, "Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole: A Renowned Neurologist Explains the Mystery and Drama of Brain Disease", followed by a reception and book signing.

“Tell the doctor where it hurts.” A simple enough question unless the problem lies in the very organ that produces awareness and generates speech. What is it like to try to heal the body when the mind is under attack? In this book, Dr. Allan Ropper and Brian Burrell take the reader behind the scenes at Harvard Medical School’s neurology unit to show how a seasoned diagnostician faces down bizarre, life-altering afflictions.
Like Alice in Wonderland, Dr. Ropper confronts a paradox at every turn:
• A tumor that has destroyed the part of a man’s brain that allows him to care about his impending death.
• A child molester who falls on the ice resulting in a brain that is very much dead inside a body that is very much alive.
• A mother of two young girls, diagnosed with ALS, who has to decide whether a life locked inside her own head is worth living.
• A paralyzed woman whose symptom is figuratively but not literally in her head.
• A policy-driven environment where doctors are barred from using the cheapest and most effective way of treating hysteria: hypnosis
• A patient who professes a total memory loss, unaware that while anyone can forget where they live, no one ever forgets who they are.
• A salesman who sets off for Harrisburg, PA, and unknowingly ends up circling a traffic rotary in Boston, unable to get off.
• A man spouting nonsense whose diagnosis can only be obtained by asking a series of nonsense questions.


How does one begin to treat such cases, to counsel people whose lives may be changed forever? How does one train the next generation of clinicians to deal with the moral and medical aspects of brain disease? Dr. Ropper and his colleague answer these questions by taking the reader into a rarified world where lives and minds hang in the balance.