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Auckland Writers Festival Free Event

Join me at the Auckland Writers Festival on Sunday, May 18th, 11.30-12.30 at the Aotea Centre as I talk about three of my most fascinating neuropsychology cases. It’s a FREE session! Click for link​a> Read More 
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Weekend NZ Herald Story

Photo: Greg Bowker
Enjoyed a lovely day with NZ Herald senior journalist, Andrew Stone and senior photographer, Greg Bowker, when they flew over to our island to interview me about "Trouble In Mind" and our off-grid lifestyle for the Weekend Herald on 13th Oct. Greg was very taken with the skull, complete with brain, that (who?) looks down at me from the top shelf in our library. Poor Yorick, alas, was somewhat dusty, but at least he wasn't 12 feet under. Click here for Link to the story​a>  Read More 
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'Trouble In Mind' Australia Happenings

Australian Cover
With the Australian edition of my book out, it is exciting to read nice reviews in the major newspapers, and to have the opportunity to talk with Australian radio hosts. Here's the Sydney Sunday Herald review.
Trouble in Mind
Jenni Ogden
(Scribe, $29.95)

If you loved reading
the case histories
of Oliver Sacks, you’ll be similarly
engrossed by the tales told by
neuropsychologist Jenni Ogden. Read More 
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Holidays 2013! The Whitsunday Writers' Festival, and Home

Fabulous writers and great dinner companions, L.A.Larkin and Anita Heiss
In July, from bush camping on a remote island to a luxury hotel: we went to the Whitsunday Writers’ Festival at the Coral Sea Resort, where our beautiful room hung over the mangroves bordering the bay. It was a tiny, exclusive festival where the guest speakers almost outnumbered the guests. As a consequence we got to know everyone and had a fantastic time. All the speakers were outstanding, and also a lot of fun. Anita Heiss, one of Australia’s best-known aboriginal writers was a delight to listen to. Her latest book ‘Am I Black Enough for You’, was a finalist in the 2012 Human Rights Awards, and she and her book have been the centre of considerable controversy because of a recent landmark court case Anita and her peers won against racist journalism in Australia. Other speakers included Tony Ayling, an expert on coral reefs, who had us riveted with his story of how he escaped from the jaws of a saltwater crocodile off Lizard Island, where we camped for 10 nights last year; Joyce Morgan and Conrad Walters, both journalists and authors of the fascinating ‘The Jewel of the Silk Road’; and Louisa (L.A.) Larkin, who writes environmental thrillers, and, like Anita, is seriously good fun at dinner parties. The other participants (like John and I, not speakers) were all equally good value, and hopefully we will keep in touch with many of them and with the speakers.  Read More 
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Holidays, 2013! Auckland Writers' and Readers' Festival

May, 2013, and the beginning of almost 3 months of R & R. First visiting kids and grandkids in Christchurch and Whangaparaoa, then the wonderful Auckland Writers’ and Readers’ Festival where I went to 17 sessions. Great sessions included Jackie Kay (what a personality she has, and I'd already read her biography and a poetry book); Ramona Koval (another delightful personality in her own session, and having her interview Kate Atkinson made that session extra special I think); Tragic Brilliance (both biographers fascinating); Mr. Cohen revealed (again the personality of Sylvie Simmons shining through, especially when she sang at the end); and Edward Rutherfurd. I think the magic lies more with the personalities of the authors rather than the interviewer, mainly because good interviewers ask the great questions and have the flexibility to follow leads, but then fade into the background. The authors who added that special touch, such as Jackie Kay with her wonderful readings (the Scots accent helped!), Sylvie Simmons with her song, and William Dalrymple with his scruffy clothes and irrepressible enthusiasm, held the audience from start to finish.  Read More 
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Holidays 2013! Camping on the Whitsundays

Coffee time at Crayfish Beach
After the Auckland Writers' and Readers' Festival off we flew to our winter bolt-hole; 6 weeks at Marlin Cove Resort, Trinity Beach, north of Cairns, where amongst other things (mainly bird watching) our friends who manage the resort, Derek and Kerry, treated us to not one, but two bottles of Grange. Then a drive south to the Whitsundays, camping at National Park campsites on the way. At Airlie Beach, we discovered that the lovely young woman who booked us into Magnum’s Backpackers for a night knew our son Joachim; her husband had worked with him in the UK 15 years ago and they had all shared adventures in Morocco. The next day we put our camping gear and 40 litres of water onto a boat which dropped us off on Crayfish Beach, a boat-access-only idyllic bay on Hook Island in the Whitsundays. There we camped in splendid isolation for 4 nights, totally alone and with no way of communicating with the outside world. Not another boat or person did we see, except on the far horizon. We did share the outer part of our tent with a very friendly and cute brown rat, whom we fed with chocolate. The good snorkelling didn’t last as the gale-force winds out to sea (which did not reach our sheltered bay) made visibility poor, but never mind. We were picked up by the same boat which sped back in 40 km/ph winds and hugh seas to Shute Harbour. It was a special experience (the isolated beach camping, not the boat trip back), and one that must surely be almost extinct anywhere else on the globe. (Aside: I have never been to the Whitsundays before and they are forever linked in my mind with the consummation scene between the priest, Father Ralph, and Meggie in Colleen McCullough’s ‘The Thorn Birds’. 1977 that book was written; imagine the furore it would cause if it were published now, given the horrors of the catholic church’s paedophile priests. Perhaps it would pass muster because Father Ralph waited until Meggie was all growed up.) Read More 
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Oliver Sacks in Conversation with Danielle Ofri

Oliver Sacks
Recently I watched one of the most fascinating interviews I have seen for a long time. True, I began with a positive bias as the interview was conducted by Danielle Ofri, and she was talking to Oliver Sacks about his hallucinations and other intriguing brain, mind, and people insights. These two doctors and writers are at the top of my favourite lists for both occupations. It was a lovely interview, relaxed and charming. Oliver Sacks is one of those people who defines wisdom and humility, always with a twinkle in his eye, and makes one believe that age is no barrier to living life to the full. If you want a treat, watch the interview on the NYU School of Medicine website:http://school.med.nyu.edu/humanisticmed (scroll to “News” section) Read More 
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A Body In The Mind

“Are you simply a frustrated doctor? Perhaps deep down what you wanted to be was a neurosurgeon?” are comments I have occasionally fielded. As it happened I never yearned to be a medical doctor, and while clinical neuropsychology does have many things in common with neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry, equally valid might have been the comment, “Are you a frustrated detective?” Most research has an element of detective work, whatever the field, and clinical neuropsychology is no exception. For me, it is the mix of working as a clinician and a researcher simultaneously that is the attraction of clinical neuropsychology. And these two aspects of the discipline are at their powerful best when the clinician or researcher comes across a patient with a neurological disorder or a collection of symptoms that are rare. If the patient is willing and is well enough to be tested, the neuropsychologist has an opportunity to discover something new about the way the mind works, and hopefully the careful research assessments will also provide detailed information that can improve the patient’s rehabilitation programme.
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The Frontal-lobe syndrome

Embellishments on the copy (lower figure) of the top drawing indicate disinhibited behaviour.
I thought I’d write a “series” of blogs on the different neuropsychological disorders in “Trouble In Mind” including an extract from the relevant chapter. My “Psychology Today” blogs also comment on neuropsychological disorders, but usually the content is not as directly related to my book content, as it is not appropriate to post extracts from the book on that site. I’ll also focus on a different disorder on each site in any given month.

I decided to begin at the front of the brain, with the frontal lobes. These days, everyone seems to know about the frontal lobes; the parts of the brain that continue to develop through our teens and into our early twenties. To be more precise, the area that is commonly referred to as the frontal lobe, is the front of the frontal lobe; labelled the prefrontal lobe. Humans have the most highly developed prefrontal cortex of any animal, and it is probably this, more than anything else, that has catapulted humankind to the top of the evolutionary tree.  Read More 
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"Trouble In Mind" advance copy has arrived!

I recently received an advance copy of my new book, Trouble In Mind: Stories from a Neuropsychologist’s Casebook which has a release date in the USA of February 2nd, 2012. It looks great, although somewhat thicker than I intended when I began writing! The image on the front cover, according to my daughter, makes it look like a tramping book ("tramping" being the NZ term for "hiking"). This photo of mine, of one of the many lovely walks in New Zealand's South Island, reminded me of a wonderful cartoon in my book from the Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig, called "How to Get There." I have often given this cartoon to patients who are struggling with long, slow, hard rehabilitation following a head injury or stroke. The message it conveys is that the way to get there is to keep on walking, one step at a time, stopping to rest and look at the view whenever you feel tired or downhearted. So the photo on the cover seemed to me to convey a similar "pathway to recovery."

The book's back cover is full of very nice “advance praise” quotes from many giants in the neuropsychology and medical fields as well as from some of my favorite novelists and writers of case study-type books for the general reader.  Read More 
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