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)
Every so often you hear of some disease, behavior or mental state that has no cure and no explanation. Later someone finds out there was a simple cure or explanation. We may never come across this malady, but it was an interesting story. The author may have avoided the pain if she knew of this malady before it struck. You come away wondering how such things could happen and physician that is supposed to know, has no clue.
Having a brain nerve disease, I am fascinated by stories like this. As she slowly went crazy, my heart went out to her. Inflammation is a great bodily response, however when the inflammation does not go away, the body reacts in many ways. I know many people who have auto-immune diseases and they are always miserable. This is a story of success. To me, her situation is not the norm and she is so very fortunate. Now, if medical R&D could have success with the remaining hundreds of similar diseases.
I gave the book 4 stars because of all the medical jargon in the last chapters. I enjoyed it however, I doubt that many others will.
Sci-fi, History, Police Procedurals and Science
In 1990, William Stryon published "Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness." One of the great authors of this generation writing about what it was like to experience depression. Similarly, in "An Unquiet Mind" Kay Redfield Jamison, "one of the foremost authorities on manic-depressive (bipolar) illness"; discussed her experiences as a patient. Now we have a reporter writing about a season in hell with her mental illness. I highly recommend all three.....which puts this book in great company.
well written, good narration. I enjoyed that it combined medical fact and information clearly with a very interesting story.
It wasn't a lightning fast finish, but I slowly progressed through and enjoyed this book.
This was an amazing and inspiring story. A very beautifully put together exploration of an experience that even memory could not keep intact. As a Cognitive Science student of UCD I was inspired by the power that knowledge can give to someone in Susannah's position. I found this book to be a great way to unify my knowledge through narrative. I'm even more excited to see how I can help from my field.
I recommend to anyone who wants an application of science in a situation of consequence.
When I need an escape and cannot openly read a book, I whip out my headphones and press play on my Audible app.
This book is a trip, to say the least. Cahalan was as honest as she could be, even in her admission that she couldn't remember events and relies on a friend or family member's recollection. Cahalan's descent into madness and treacherous trek back are a testament to the human spirit and the vitality of pioneering medical research.
One of my favorite audible books to date! This very interesting story of a young woman's journey from illness, to madness to recovery and back is so fascinating. I could hardly resist the urge to jump to the end just to hear the final outcome of this poor girls fate. I certainly learned a lot from this book and I can only hope that it helps and saves lives from its sources. This book not only went into full detail about the month of hell this young woman went through but very carefully sorts and explains all the details in between. This audible is a MUST listen!!!!
This is a compelling true account of a young woman's journey through a terrible illness and her triumph over it. Beautifully written in her own words. Excellent narration.
Member since 2008, not 2015, as shown below.
Maybe the narrator....not the author.
I thought this would describe a few symptoms, then move on to what caused her problems. I listened to 3 hours of her utterly obnoxious behavior, with no indication of why. Maybe if she'd given a hint of what was wrong, I could have had some compassion and finished the book. As it was, I gave up about 3 hours in. Could take no more of her!
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