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Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by…

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness (edition 2012)

by Susannah Cahalan

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Title:Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
Authors:Susannah Cahalan
Info:Free Press (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library

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Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan


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This is the story of Susannah, a young, twenty-something who starts to lose her mind, literally. She starts hallucinating, having seizures and acting paranoid. She loses her ability to speak and nearly walk without much difficulty and just quickly begins to be a shadow of her formal self. First it is believed that she has a mental illness; schizoaffective disorder to be exact. Then she is diagnosed with possible epilepsy and several other illnesses before she is correctly diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that causes her brain to become inflamed.

Susannah is a reporter for the NY Post and uses her skills as such to put together the story of her devastating illness and remarkable recovery. I highly recommend this book. She put it together so beautifully and really makes you feel as though you are with her during this difficult time. ( )
  campingmomma | Aug 18, 2015 |
I heard an interview with Cahalan on NPR a couple of years back. The story sounded terrifying and fascinating, but it took me a while to pick up the book. Overall, I regret it. Somehow, the story didn't end up that interesting after all. The bigger problem was just the self-centered way the story was told. Obviously it was about an illness that she experienced directly, but the way she said things rang with such a sense of entitlement that it was incredibly off putting. She also didn't seem to worry too much about who she was writing about or who she hurt.

But then, she did and does write for the New York Post...so I should have took that as an early warning. ( )
  Sean191 | Aug 1, 2015 |
Susannah Cahalan was working for the New York Post when her mood shifted from friendly and talkative (like a journalist), to paranoid, hysterical, and delusional (like a schizophrenic). After severe symptoms, she was taken to New York University Hospital to begin treatment, but the doctors were unsure what exactly they needed to treat. Some doctors thought she had psychosis, but her parents and her faithful boyfriend disagreed. She had been normal just a few weeks ago! Through the hard work and determination of the doctors at NYU, Susannah eventually was treated for and recovered from her illness.

Susannah has written about her illness in "Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness" -- piecing together bits from doctors files, interviews with family and friends, and from footage of her room taken by the hospital. She has to piece together what happened during that blank month, and which situations were real and which were her hallucinations.

This is a medical drama that does not become slow, but moves along while providing easy-to-understand medical explanations of why these things were happening to Susannah. I prescribe one reading of "Brain on Fire," STAT! ( )
  Ellie.Pelto | Jul 7, 2015 |
I really liked this book! There were so many great thinks about it. The author did a fantastic job at telling her story of a journey into madness. Her story was a testament to her strength and the devotion and commitment to her loved ones. It was also a beacon for modern medicine and how doctors can make a difference (while others write the unknown off as unsolvable mysteries).

I really appreciated Cahalan's openness with such a profoundly personal and intimate subject and from the last chapters of her book, it was apparent that other sufferers of her disease (and those like it), benefited greatly from the notoriety of something which had been hitherto essentially undiagnosed in the medical community. This was a great story and a must read!! ( )
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
Dramatic memoir of NY Post reporter's horrific experience of a rare form of encephalitis - Susannah Cahalan's authenticity and courage are so evident in this excellent account of her transformation into a crazed person, the search for diagnosis,and the slow recovery - her writing is excellent and she spares no details of her painful journey - ( )
  njinthesun | Mar 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
"..a fascinating and compelling story told in a smart, succinct style.."
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I have felt that odd whirr of wings in the head.
                                 —Virginia Woolf, A Writer's Diary:
              Being Extracts from the Diary of Virginia Woolf
Dedicated to those without a diagnosis
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Maybe it all began with a bug bite, from a bedbug that didn't exist.
If all I can remember are hallucinations, how can I rely on my own mind?
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The story of twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan and the life-saving discovery of the autoimmune disorder that nearly killed her -- and that could perhaps be the root of "demonic possessions" throughout history.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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