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)
Outstanding book made so much more intense because it is real. I generally read scifi and dystopian novels but felt compelled to try this book and I was not disappointed. It is well written and the author does an amazing job of helping the reader feel like they are witnessing everything play out.
I cried in frustration and happiness. I am rarely moved so strongly. I highly recommend this book. I felt compelled to complete the book in one sitting and struggled to set it aside to go to bed and stayed up way too late before forcing myself to sleep.
There are lots of dashed hopes, ups and downs, and a general roller coaster ride to hell and back. I was on that roller coaster in spite of the knowledge that I knew the eventual outcome.
I found myself looking everyone and everything up online. Susannah Cahalan was brutally honest and utilized all the data available to make sense of this period of her life. Again, it is an amazing book. Highly recommended!!
So engrossing to follow the health issues of Susannah and her ability to get her life back. She had incredible family support and her auto immune disease was so complex and rare that it was almost a fluke that she was diagnosed.
First time, but reader has a great voice
To hell and back
The revelations about how much of our consciousness is contained in our brains. Surprising for someone who has always been "superstitious" and spiritual.
Waiting for the breakdown that you new was coming for the author.
The author's boyfriend Stephen.
Highly recommend it for anyone who isn't usually fond on non-fiction. This story is fascinating.
I don't agree with the reviewer who said the narration was too fast. The story is a compelling medical mystery that held my attention, I'm amazed that Susannah Cahalan was correctly diagnosed and glad she is doing well. Heather Henderson gives life to the story and makes you feel as if the author is there speaking to you. Clear and crisp. I highly recommend this audiobook.
Addicted to Audible!
As a Nurse I always tell my patients, get a second opinion or a third or a fourth and always have an advocate with you when you go to a hospital. This book kept my interest and I was thankful that Susannah had parents that were amazing advocates for her and kept getting those opinions till they found Dr. Najar who saved her life! What a scary experience she had. She is a very lucky woman!
Performance: I was irritated almost the entire time spent listening.
Paper Copy: Yes.
Audible Performance: No.
The "dramatic" scenes were disingenuous thanks to the performer's daytime soap opera acting skills. I was horrified at what felt so much like a mockery. Any talent behind the text was robbed.
A movie? Sure. But more of a Lifetime movie than a blockbuster hit. Candice Cameron-Bure would be an interesting choice, but I may think that simply because I can't recall the names of other Lifetime movie actresses.
An avid reader and listener with eclectic tastes... One unifying them is my love of humor, mystery and great narration.
If you are not convinced of the wondrous nature of the brain, you will be after listening to this author's harrowing tale. She does an excellent job presenting the biographical information in a narrative style so that it "reads" more like fiction. The scary thing is that it's not...
What an amazing story. This would be a great fiction story, but the fact that it’s true makes it all the more incredible.
Susannah takes us on the journey she took as she fell ill to the mysterious illness. The book starts at the first sign that something is wrong and takes us through her time in the hospital, her diagnosis, treatment and the follow-up care and research. Even though she can’t remember anything from that time, she has pulled together doctor’s notes, videos and interviews to create a thorough timeline that makes the reader fell like they’re living through it with her.
And it was scary. One minute she was an outgoing, confident young woman and the next she was a paranoid, delusional mess. It came on so suddenly and there were only a few signs that something was wrong before she ended up in the hospital. The tests and incorrect diagnoses she went through before they ever discovered her problem were immense and I’m impressed that her family didn’t give up on her. Their persistence is a testament of their love. Also? I think she might have the best real-life boyfriend ever.
You know it’s going to end well (she did write the book, after all) but the writing is so immersive and intense, that you wonder how it will all work out. This could have had a very different outcome, and Susannah is very lucky that the right doctor found the right test at the right time.
The last section of the book deals with the aftermath – how Susannah continues to be affected and the research and development that have gone into the disease since her diagnosis. That section wasn’t as intense as the earlier parts, but it was interesting. In fact, there are interesting facts and tidbits throughout the book, which were especially useful so we would know exactly how Susannah’s brain was misfiring.
The narrator did a great job, she had the moods and affectations down perfectly. When combined with the fabulous writing, I really felt like I was there in Susannah’s head while she was going through this.
An intriguing story made even better by the tight writing. Susannah is a gifted writer and I’m amazed this is her first book. Don’t miss it.
I liked that the author was willing to expose herself in her darkest moments. I did not care for the narrator.
I thought the ending was very blah and not at all a surprise.
I really think this narrator was wrong for the story. I felt like I was listening to the authors mother the whole way through the book. There is no way I would believe the narrator was a New York reporter in her early 20's.
No, the story is more suited as the basis for a single episode on a medical drama series.
This was just an okay listen for me- not bad but not a story I was thinking about for days once I was done.
This story was interesting but after awhile there is a great deal of medical terminology. By the end I skipped forward several times and still seemed to be listening to the same thing.
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