Listen: Sydney author Ben McKelvey sits down with unique Australian guests who share lessons from their own mind-altering traumas
Ben McKelvey was in his mid-twenties when he had a stroke. Then, a few years later in his thirties he suffered a heart attack, again facing mortality in the prime of his life.
Initially Ben was left without the ability to speak, write or read but his health battles haven’t slowed him down. In fact, Ben’s become one of Australia’s most prolific journalists, writing for publications including Good Weekend, GQ, Rolling Stone and Cosmo and, last year, he released his fifth book Mosul – investigating Australia’s connections to the ISIS regime.
Now Ben’s turning his attention to his next project, a podcast that asks why we are the way we are, and how our minds influence our identity.
On A Theory of Mind, Ben sits down with unique Australian guests who share from their own mind-altering traumas – how they’ve triumphed, lost, been damaged and learned about themselves through their disease.
The connection between our minds and who we are isn’t so direct, Ben has discovered, as he observes the interplay of different elements on how our brains behave.
“The interesting thing that pops up over and over again in the podcast with the guests that I get is that there might be something monumental that’s happening, or has happened to them – as was the case with me,” Ben told hope 103.2.
“But it’s interacting with a lot of other elements of their mind and their brain. Be that addiction, trauma, love or faith. So it’s actually really difficult to identify a cause and effect.”
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Although the podcast has been borne out of the difficulties of Ben’s own life experience, it’s his curiosity he said that really fuels it, and a desire to take what he’s learned further.
“You have an assumption in your twenties that life to a certain extent, is on rails,” he said.
“That there’s going to be this path, and you’re going to be doing certain things and there’s going to be certain thresholds that you cross.
“But when [the stroke] happened it made me realise that nothing is set in stone, and your life can change in an instant – for better or for worse.
“It was sort of liberating in a way because it made me realise that you can make change; you can affect positive change. You don’t have to just wait for this inexorable draw toward a conclusion.”
A Theory of Mind – “the brain, the psyche, and why we are the way we are” – is available now on your preferred podcasting platform. Listen to the full interview with journalist Ben McKelvey in the player above.