In 2009, Susannah Cahalan woke up in a strange hospital room strapped to a bed, under guard, and unable to move or speak. Her medical records - from a month-long hospital stay of which she had no memory - reported psychosis, violence, and dangerous instability. Yet, only weeks earlier she had been a healthy, ambitious twenty-four-year-old, six months into her first serious relationship and a sparkling career as a cub reporter.
Susannah’s astonishing memoir chronicles the swift path of her illness and the lucky, last-minute intervention led by one of the few doctors capable of saving her life. Weeks ticked by and Susannah moved inexplicably from violence to catatonia. Over one million dollars worth of blood tests and brain scans revealed nothing. The exhausted doctors were ready to commit her to the psychiatric ward, until the celebrated neurologist, Dr. Souhel Najjar, joined her team. With the use of a simple - yet ingenious - test, he was able to make a lifesaving diagnosis - revealing a newly discovered autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the brain.
With sharp reporting drawn from hospital records, scientific research, and interviews with doctors and family, Brain on Fire is a crackling mystery and an unflinching, gripping personal story that marks the debut of an extraordinary writer.
©2012 Original material © 2012 Susannah Cahalan. Recorded by arrangement with Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. (P)2012 (p) 2012 HighBridge Company
"Engrossing.... Unquestionably, an important book on both a human and a medical level. Cahalan’s elegantly-written memoir of her dramatic descent into madness opens up discussion of the cutting-edge neuroscience behind a disease that may affect thousands of people around the world, and it offers powerful insight into the subjective workings of our minds." (Mehmet Oz, MD, Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Surgery, New York Presbyterian-Columbia Medical Center)
"Brain on Fire reads like a scientific thriller, but with a profound and moving philosophy at its heart." (David B. Agus, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Engineering, University of Southern California, and author of The End of Illness)
This is not my normal type of book. That being said, I found it extremely interesting and scary. I would highly recommend this book .
It was a fascinating and brilliantly delivered story of her experience. The narrator was an excellent choice in that it brought the story ‘alive.’ I was intrigued by the in-depth explanation of the different parts of the brain and other elements of the body. I've listen to many audio books and this one will be among my top 5 favorites.
The narrator is great. She makes the book better. The content is amazing. In the beginning of the story, I did find it hard to sympathize with the author's plight because she came off as very annoying. However, this annoyance faded as the story progressed.
Something that is overlooked in the main premise of this story is how important medical advocacy is. The parents of the author are the reason she got the care she did. The story really is amazing. At the same time, it is sad to think of how many others were erroneously diagnosed with mental illness that was actually caused by something else (no spoilers from me).
This book is a nice complement to "My Stoke of Insight." I do wish the author had narrated. I'm not sure why she didn't...but perhaps it would have been poor narration. The narrator adds to the story and makes it a 5 star book.
Loved it! A personal account of a mystery diagnosis. As a medical laboratory scientist, our neurologist occasionally orders the Anti-NMDA test and this book has educated me like no medical book could. An intriguing look into memory, mental illness, misdiagnosis, auto immune disease, love and perseverance.
It was informative, but still a story. Even though it was about medical issues, it was written in a way someone who knows nothing about it, could still understand it. Besides the medical part, it is a story about fear and dispair, but also love and commitment.
The book is mainly about Susannah, so she's my favorite. Besides that I really have sympathy and respect for her boyfriend Stephen.
This was a first. I think she did well.
I think the title says it all.
I really recommend this book. I finished it in 3 days.
Wonderful,fascinating well written story! The way Susannah Cahalan writes is heart wrenching and full of medical facts.
A really good quick read, super interesting read into the very mysterious world of mental illness and neurological issues.
I have recently been diagnosed with autoimmune encephalopathy. While its cause has not been found yet the journey through differential diagnoses, testing and eventual therapies is similar. the importance of my daughter, a physician, becoming an aggressive advocate and insisting the neurologists initiate all known therapies even though every diagnostic test was negative is the difference between my recovering at home and not being in an Alzheimer or mental health unit. I have eight siblings and I have told them this is a close if not exact description of my journey.
Great even for a medical professional. Well told first person account of descent into and recovery from a mysterious devastating neurologic illness.
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