Trouble in Mind

| May 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

I want to tell you a little about a woman I find inspirational. A thoroughly modern woman…

Jenni Ogden

Dip.Clin.Psych., B.Sc,. M.Sc., Dip.Soc.Sc., Dip.Clin.Psych., PhD., FNZPS, FRSNZ.

I can’t remember the first time I met Jenni Ogden as she is one of those people you feel like has always been there. I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense (!) but one of familiarity. She is the epitome of a perfect host, forever welcoming and even with all those letters after her name she treats everyone she meets as an equal. At least that is how she makes me feel.

Jenni Ogden

Jenni at home on Great Barrier Island

I have been lucky to spend a decent amount of time with Jenni over the years, as her husband is my husband’s academic “grandfather”, and whenever we get together she has kept us highly entertained with amazing stories about her adventurous life, from night time turtle counts on remote tropical islands with four small children in tow to being kissed by Elvis in Las Vegas.

Truly an inspirational woman, Jenni is not just the perfect host but also a world renowned clinical psychologist, specialising in neuropsychology. Now retired from academic life she lives an alternative “off-grid” lifestyle with her husband, John, on Great Barrier Island, but over the years her career has taken her across the globe. During this time she worked extensively with such patients as H.M., the most famous amnesiac in history, given over a hundred conference talks and published 60+ research articles. She has won numerous awards including research fellowships at the Australian National University, and at Oxford University, has been elected as Fellow of the Royal Society of NZ as well as the NZ Psychological Society. Jenni has also authored the text-book Fractured Minds. A Case-Study Approach to Clinical Neuropsychology as well as her latest book on clinical case studies Trouble In Mind, which although about scientific cases is written in simpler language that focuses on the human stories with less scientific theory and detail.


About Trouble in Mind: Stories from a Neuropsychologist’s Casebook

“In these very human stories my aim is to convey my experiences of how these courageous, funny, sad, generous and determined people – not only the patients but their families and friends as well – have coped with the extraordinary stress of a brain disorder. As you read these stories, through the experiences of the patients and the people who interact with them – families, health professionals, and researchers – you will, almost inadvertently, learn a lot about the different disorders and their treatments! For me, writing this has almost been like writing a memoir of that large part of my life where I was privileged to get to know these amazing people and learn from them about living – and sometimes dying – and remembering to stop and smell the roses.” Jenni Odgen

Jenni will be talking about her book at the Auckland Writers Festival this weekend, it is a free event so if this type of thing fascinates you, then this is the perfect opportunity to find out more.

I asked Jenni if she would answer some quick fire questions to give us a little insight into her life:

1. Describe what you do:

I was an Associate Professor in Psychology at the University of Auckland for 22 years, then “re-tyred” and moved full-time to Great Barrier Island with husband John. Here I spend most of my time writing novels (and reading other people’s), mucking about on “our” beach, and travelling for a few months most winters.


"Our" beach - Awana, Great Barrier Island

2. How would you describe yourself in five words?

Content, optimistic, verbal, organised, determined.
(I asked John and he said “attractive, amusing, interesting, intelligent and irritating!”)

[Not sure I was supposed to include these ;) - Nicky]

3. How did you get to where you are today? 

Professionally, worked my butt off, made some good friends amongst my work colleagues, and focused on work I believed in; personally; passed on our values to our four children, and as a consequence we all still (mostly!) enjoy being together.

4. Tell us about a defining moment in your life.

At the beginning of a summer holiday, walking along “our” beach on Great Barrier one very dark, starry, balmy night with John and our two youngest children (aged 16 and 14). We were the only people on the beach, the sea was shot with luminescence with every breaking wave, and the kids began to cartwheel along in front of us. The sand they kicked up was full of glowing critters, and I was filled with pure, perfect happiness… I’ve never forgotten it.

Awana Bay Great Barrier Island

Awana Bay, Great Barrier Island

5. What person do you really rely on for support and encouragement in life?

Husband John.

6. What are you most grateful for?

First, the robust psychological and physical health and happiness of our children and grandchildren, and secondly our own health and happiness.

7. If there were one thing you could learn to do that you haven’t already, what would it be?

Learn to play the piano superbly!

8. What’s one piece of advice you would give your younger self?

Ask your parents and grandparents about their pasts, and about family/ancestors/stories they remember. Once they’ve gone (and you never know when that might be) they will take their memories with them…

Trouble in Mind by Jenni Ogden at the Auckland Writers Festival

Neuropsychologist Jenni Ogden presents three fascinating case studies of disordered minds and disobedient bodies – including that of H.M., the world’s most famous amnesiac – in an hour uncovering the mysteries of the human brain.

Sunday 18 May 2014, 11:30AM — 12:30PM
Upper NZI Room, Aotea Centre, 50 Mayoral Drive, Auckland New Zealand

You can also listen to an interview with Jenni on Nine to Noon with Kathryn Ryan, 12th Feb 2014:

Buy the book via Jenni’s website here:

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