Tag Archives: Susannah Cahalan

Brain on Fire

brainonfireI finally finished reading Brain on Fire, My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan. I say “finally finished” not because it was a bad book, or boring, or anything like that. Quite the opposite. It was such an intense story, so dense in detail and facts and emotion, that I could only read it for so long at a time to absorb it properly. It is the story of a fast-tracking journalist in NYC who all of a sudden starts experiencing some strange behaviors outside of her control, visions, and other sensory hallucinations. She is a young woman, in the prime of life, who has everything going for her who descends into a hell she cannot understand or control. Imagine scenes from The Exorcist, but it’s real life. Quoting The Washington Post: “This story has a happy ending, but take heed: It is a powerfully scary book.” The inspiration in the book comes from her family’s steadfast belief that she will get well again, despite the diagnosis of experts. What is truly frightening is the fact that these experts had no idea what was wrong with her with misdiagnoses ranging from alcohol poisoning to various forms of schizophrenia. Through it all, Susannah experienced seizures, canonic states, total memory loss, manic behavior, and all manner of terrifying, uncontrolled behavior and memory loss. When a doctor–himself a miracle case who beat the odds–finally diagnosed her with anti-NMDA-receptor auto-immune encephalitis, Susannah starts down a very long road to recovery. Brain on Fire is more than a medical mystery–it is the story of an incredible woman’s fight to save her identity.


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