New Zealand author, Jenni Ogden, has taught, researched and practised in the fields of clinical psychology and neuropsychology for 27 years. Now, in her fascinating new book Trouble in Mind: Stories from a Neuropsychologist’s Casebook, she shares some her most remarkable experiences – and patients.
In Ogden’s previous text, Fractured Minds: a case-study approach to clinical psychology, she shared some of her more unusual cases from her time spent working in some of the world’s leading hospital. This was a book aimed at students and professionals working in the field of psychology. In Trouble in Mind Ogden revisits many of these cases but this time her book will appeal equally to students and professionals, to those living with or supporting someone with a brain disorder, and to readers who merely have an interest in this topic.
Reading like a memoir, Ogden maintains a real sense of intimacy as she tells the stories of 15 patients living with brain injuries and disorders. This is a topic that has the potential to be quite dry, but Ogden uses these patients as the foundation for exploring it. We learn about the individual people she encountered as much as about the brain injuries they presented with, and through understanding their individual experiences we, as readers, are given some insight into the human brain and how it works.
What makes Trouble in Mind particularly appealing is how personal it is. When we have known someone with a disorder or disease, when we have seen how it has affected them, the person, we come away with a true notion of the impact and effect of the disorder. What better way then to explain neuropsychology than through the real-life stories of Ogden’s patients?
As I read her sensitive accounts I felt I knew these people learning to cope with the unexpected, I laughed with them and empathised for them and their families. I encountered individuals with Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease, and those with aphasia, hemineglect and epilepsy. Some had inherited diseases and others had endured brain injuries due to accidents. All of them were utterly relatable.
In amidst her patients’ stories, Ogden effortlessly weaves in the science of the brain, its functions and what happens when things go wrong. She does so in a way that keeps a potentially dry topic interesting, and in a way that is clear and understandable, regardless of your previous knowledge on the subject.
If her goal was accessibility, Ogden has achieved this. For whatever reason you are interested, whether personal or academic, Trouble in Mind will offer you new insights into the workings of the brain.