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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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  • Story

Enjoyed the mix of science and personal experience

Enjoyed the science, critique of our medical system, personal drama, and good writing. Will recommend to friends and students.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Therapist in Practice

wow this book is amazing and as a therapist in private practice I will always remember the impact of a physical diagnosis that helped change this person's future. Thank you for sharing and this story can't help but help many people.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Unique perspective

Just too technical for me. The personal experience was very insightful into how devastating mental health illness can be.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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First Psychotic Episode

as a psychiatric RN, I wonder how many young people I've helped treat incorrectly. I'm still digesting the story. The narrator did an excellent job with accents and voice variations. Great road trip book, but used a lot of data!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A very interesting topic

The story is very engaging and brings insight into a mind that many of us will never experience. My only critique is that the story is written like a buzzfeed article, which makes sense considering her journalistic background. Meaning she leaves many chapters with a grabby finish i.e. You won't believe what happened next.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Riveting. Excellently written. Excellent Narration

What made the experience of listening to Brain on Fire the most enjoyable?

You're drawn into her story immediately!

What did you like best about this story?

That she survived her ordeal and lived to share it with others!

What does Heather Henderson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Dunno about that!

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Many moments did.

Any additional comments?

Great story! Great narration.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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I Couldn't Put it Down!

If you could sum up Brain on Fire in three words, what would they be?

Intense, informative, interesting!

Any additional comments?

I think the author is a talented writer who presents the story in a very interesting and engaging manner. The reader did a great job as well in presenting the material. Overall has been one of my favorite audible purchases!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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excellent

great story, well researched, excellent narrator. story will make you reflect and offers perspective on rare dx

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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10 out of 5 stars for this book and narration

What did you love best about Brain on Fire?

The author's amazing ability to transport you into her life during her illness. She described everything with such detail (even though she doesn't remember alot of it) that you were able to relate and understand so much of what she was going through.

Which character – as performed by Heather Henderson – was your favorite?

The narrator did an INCREDIBLE job on this book. Her pure raw emotion during some of the hospital stay made me feel heartbroken for the author. She was able to portray the madness and the slurred words and all of it with perfection. The narration helped make this book one of my top 5 favorites of all time.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes and I did finish it - not in one sitting - but in one day!!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

well told story of a very strange illness

The narrator did a great job of bringing this young woman's story to life! I really enjoyed the book and it wasn't very long.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful