Say that again?!

Ben McMahon

Ben McMahon was lucky. When he woke from a coma following a car crash in 2012 he realised he was still intact. He was still in considerable pain and needed to have his posture adjusted. So he called to the nurse to prop him up a bit more. To his astonishment he heard his request come out in fluent Mandarin. Ben, who lived down the road from me in Victoria, Australia, did learn a bit of Mandarin in school, but he was certainly never fluent. What was going on?

The same thing happened when Ben tried to repeat himself. Everyone was a bit perplexed. So to reassure himself and the nursing team he requested a pad and pen for him to communicate more clearly. He wrote a short lucid note – in perfect Mandarin. In fact Ben’s Mandarin was so good that he went on to host a TV game show in China, where he moved to pursue his studies.

Ben’s story is an example of Acquired Savant Syndrome – a phenomenon in which a brain injury unlocks phenomenal new mental skills – sometimes in language, sometimes memory or art or mathematics. What baffles contemporary science finds an explanation in the world’s mythologies. And many of the world’s mythologies propose the same answer. ESCAPING FROM EDEN explores what our mythologies have to offer. The answer they propose might just turn your world upside-down…Read more…

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