In­sights from be­yond tech­nol­ogy

Great­est gen­er­a­tion still has a lot to of­fer mod­ern thought

Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA NEWS - By MARY-JO TO­HILL

Wanaka-based au­thor Kenneth Bra­gan is 86, and de­scribes him­self as ‘‘the voice of an old man’’.

Mr Bra­gan will lend his voice to the up­com­ing in­spi­ra­tional speak­ing event, TEDxWanaka, next Satur­day.

As a con­cept, ‘‘TED’’, which stands for Tech­nol­ogy, En­ter­tain­ment and De­sign, orig­i­nated in the United States 30 years ago, at­tract­ing speak­ers such as Bill Gates, Jane Goodall and Sir Richard Bran­son .

A non- profit or­gan­i­sa­tion, it pro­vides a plat­form for the hu­man need to learn and teach, where guest speak­ers are given 18 min­utes to share their ideas and ex­pe­ri­ence with the au­di­ence.

A Wanaka res­i­dent for 20 years, Mr Bra­gan has writ­ten five books, in­clud­ing Do Not Go Gen­tle, which deals with get­ting the best out of old age, and it’s on this sub­ject that he will speak at the event, fit­ting in with theme, ‘‘change mak­ers’’.

Also a re­tired psy­chi­a­trist who stud­ied medicine at Ed­in­burgh Univer­sity, he grew up dur­ing the de­pres­sion in a small coal-min­ing town in the north of Eng­land near New­cas­tle, and em­i­grated to New Zealand in 1965.

Mr Bra­gan is con­cerned about the im­pact of tech­nol­ogy on psy­chol­ogy, and how it can put life ‘‘on a very su­per­fi­cial level’’.

‘‘People like me who were born in the 1920s and 30s were the last gen­er­a­tion to ex­pe­ri­ence life be­fore the ad­vent of tech­nol­ogy; We’re the only gen­er­a­tion left not born into it, there­fore we have some­thing to say.’’

By no means a lud­dite, he be­lieves ‘‘life is too much on the go, with not enough time for re­flec­tion’’.

What he’s re­flect­ing on these days is the link be­tween psy­chi­a­try and lit­er­a­ture.

When he first im­mi­grated to New Zealand, and af­ter com­plet­ing a specialist qual­i­fi­ca­tion in psy­chi­a­try, he worked at the Sea­cliffe asy­lum near Dunedin, where Janet Frame had been a pa­tient.

It was through a study of her life, ill­ness and work that he be­gan to fo­cus on how writ­ing could serve as a re­cov­ery tool, a way out of grief and of mad­ness.

‘‘As a psy­chi­a­trist I do un­der­stand how writ­ing can be a way to keep the dark side quiet.’’

He has been study­ing other fe­male au­thors, whose bril­liance was also ‘‘steeped in men­tal ill­ness’’. It’s a sub­ject dear to his heart, and he thinks there may still be an­other book in him.

‘‘I think I’ll go back and give it an­other go,’’ he said.

Photo: MARY-JO TO­HILL

The view from his room: Wanaka au­thor and re­tired psy­chi­a­trist Kenneth Bra­gan will be speak­ing at the TEDxWanaka event next Satur­day.

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