A neuroscientist who lost her mind says it can happen to anyone

You can be an expert on brains and spend 30 years studying mental disorders, and it still will not prepare you for your own madness. Expertise won’t explain why you no longer recognize your house or car, or why you’ve gone for a morning jog with a plastic bag full of purple henna on your head and have no idea where you are, even though this is your own neighborhood, your own streets, and these are the trees and flowers you pass every day.

The Washington Post Magazine

She made a career out of studying the brain. Then hers veered off course.

Neuroscientist Barbara Lipska has studied mental illness for much of her career. In 2015 she was diagnosed with brain cancer. After an experimental treatment, she began to exhibit bizarre behavior that alarmed loved ones and colleagues. Lipska was not aware of the change at the time. She recently published a book about her experience.

DER SPIEGEL (in German)

Wie eine Hirnforscherin den Verstand verlor

Die Neurowissenschaftlerin Barbara Lipska erforschte die Gehirne geisteskranker Menschen. Dann zog der Krebs in ihr Gehirn, und sie driftete in den Wahnsinn.

stuff (New Zealand)

To madness and back: how brain cancer affected a neuroscientist

Neuroscientist Barbara Lipska has dedicated her life to studying diseases of the mind. In 2015, owing to brain tumours, she started losing her own mind. Here, she tells reporter KATIE KENNY what she took away, professionally and personally, from a brush with madness.


Mental Health Research Needs More People to Donate Their Brains

"I believe that everything is in this piece of flesh that you saw. But how it can happen? How does it dream, love, smell?"


Mad Scientist
The there-and-back-again tale of a brain researcher turned cancer patient.

Imagine a loved one, the rock of your family, displaying in short order the symptoms of mental illness and dementia; a well-adjusted, accomplished person turning obstreperous, mistrustful, and compulsive, confounded by basic arithmetic or a daily commute, and ruminating on imagined slights, mind racing obsessively. Then gradually these behaviors recede; equilibrium and faculties are recovered, and your relative is restored, albeit wearier and warier.


Barbara Lipska on Deciphering and Destigmatizing Mental Illness

In January 2015, doctors informed Barbara Lipska that her melanoma had spread to her brain. With her frontal lobe compromised by tumors, Lipska soon began exhibiting schizophrenia and dementia-like symptoms. The subsequent eight weeks were a harrowing ordeal for Lipska, who was unaware of the affects her illness had on her brain, and her family.


Brain cancer made this neuroscientist lose her mind

In June 2015, in the midst of immunotherapy treatment for brain cancer, neuroscientist Barbara Lipska was convinced the takeout pizza she’d recently eaten had been made out of plastic. “They are poisoning us!” she exclaimed to her husband, Mirek, after reflexively throwing up what she perceived as scraps of plastic bag in the bathroom. “I will never eat at that place again!”


The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: A Journey to the Brink and Back

Barbara Lipska, PhD, director of the Human Brain Collection Core at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) — part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) — and author of the recently published memoir, The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery, notes her fantastic medical team, devoted family, and stubborn optimism as important tools for treatment and recovery from metastatic brain cancer. 


'I was a monster': Mental health scientist who beat stage 4 cancer describes shock at failing to recognize her own delusions brought on by the treatment that saved her life

Three years ago, Dr Barbara Lipska was probably going to die, but more importantly, she was convinced that the pizza place nearby was trying to rip off and sicken its customers by lacing their pies with plastic.


The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind

On a recent night at New York’s Rubin Museum of Art, neuroscientist Barbara Lipska, Ph.D., sat down with journalist Jake Halpern as part of the museum’s annual Brainwave series. The discussion gave audience members the unique opportunity to hear a lucid perspective of what it’s like to experience psychosis.


I’m a Neuroscientist Who Studies Mental Illness. Here’s What Happened When I Lost My Own Mind.

I've studied mental illness my entire career. Yet when I began my descent into the very same sort of madness that I'd researched, I had no idea what was happening. This is the story of my journey into insanity—and back. 


A Neuroscientist Lost Her Mind From Cancer. She’s Not Alone.

She’d survived breast cancer and melanoma. Then her hand disappeared.

The Scientist

A Neuroscientist’s Journey Through Madness

After I was diagnosed with brain cancer and started to lose my mental health, the importance of my job came into clear focus.


Brain Tumors Caused This Neuroscientist To Lose Her Mind
"I became a monster, basically, in my own body, with my own personality exaggerated to the point it became a caricature of myself."

iNews The Essential Daily Briefing

'The neuroscientist who lost her mind'
She was sitting at her desk at the National Institute of Mental Health in Maryland – where she has spent many years studying the brain, in particular the effects of schizophrenia – when she noticed that her right arm seemed to disappear from her line of vision entirely whenever it strayed to the right-hand corner of her computer keyboard.

The Guardian

‘I was a caricature of my worst traits’ – how brain cancer can affect the mind
When neuroscientist Barbara Lipska was diagnosed with brain cancer, she thought she knew about the physical toll. 
But she was unprepared for its effect on her behaviour.

The Times - Sunday Times

Neuroscientist Barbara K Lipska: how my understanding of the mind changed when I developed a brain tumour
The expert on mental illness on the brain tumours that rendered her temporarily insane


A neuroscientist’s battle with brain cancer prompts a personal reflection on identity and the disease process
In The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind, Barbara Lipska shares the story of her firsthand experience with metastatic brain cancer. In doing so, she provides readers the opportunity to foster a “sense of connection with others who suffer” and to combat continued stigmatizing of mental illness. 


Sanity unraveled
The mind is a precious thing to lose. Dr. Barbara K. Lipska, the director of the Human Brain Collection Core at the National Institute of Mental Health, learned this terrifying truth firsthand.