Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

Brain on Fire My Month of Madness An award winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller that goes far beyond its riveting medical mystery Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman s struggle to recapture her identity

  • Title: Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
  • Author: Susannah Cahalan
  • ISBN: 9781451621372
  • Page: 249
  • Format: Hardcover
  • An award winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller that goes far beyond its riveting medical mystery, Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman s struggle to recapture her identity.When twenty four year old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she d gotten there DayAn award winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller that goes far beyond its riveting medical mystery, Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman s struggle to recapture her identity.When twenty four year old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she d gotten there Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper Now she was labeled violent, psychotic, a flight risk What happened In a swift and breathtaking narrative, Cahalan tells the astonishing true story of her descent into madness, her family s inspiring faith in her, and the lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn t happen.

    One thought on “Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness”

    1. I took care of a patient with this tragic and intriguing disorder. Her complex and terrifying journey through this disease in ongoing. Over the course of caring for her, her sister mentioned this book. In this rare disorder, people often pass through a range of bizarre psychiatric symptoms that lead to catatonia and then often death as the body becomes unable to regulate itself, as with the patient I cared for in ICU. With the young woman who wrote this book, you see her pass through various sta [...]

    2. Susannah Cahalan, a young journalist working at a great (ok not so great, kinda schlocky actually) metropolitan newspaper, suddenly notices things going awry. She starts having episodes of paranoia, becomes hypersensitive to sound, light and cold. She suffers from loss of appetite and begins having out-of-body experiences and wild mood swings. A tour of New York psych and neuro pros did not yield much more than a suspicion that she had been partying too hard. On the other hand, grand mal seizure [...]

    3. I rarely read memoirs. Too often the author spends far too much time painting themselves in the best possible light and/or justifying their behavior. It is a rare and gifted author that can objectively describe a personal event without infusing it with strong emotions.Perhaps Susannah was able to accomplish this huge feat due to the simple fact that she was unaware of herself much of the time that her brain was inflamed. She begins with the first noticeable symptom; a couple of bed bug bites tha [...]

    4. Diagnosed schizophrenic. Psychotic or the victim of the greed of drug companies? The last book I read was Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home, an experience of brain aneurysm and recovery. It was very so-so but the author's appealing personality added much to the book. I hoped that Brain on Fire, in the same genre, would be better. The author's personality didn't shine through, but this might have been a fact that she lost herself with her illness.The illness, a rare, auto-i [...]

    5. You could probably call this a great piece of investigative reporting. Unfortunately for me, it was instead labelled as a memoir, leaving me feeling exasperated and mislead. I guess I was hoping for something akin to the more enjoyable memoirs that I've read (I'm thinking The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, or even Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, which is not so much memoir as it is fiction based on memoir - beside the point). This was more like an excruciatingly long newspaper article, ch [...]

    6. When you read you enter another world, and — as someone who is uncomfortable (with even the idea apparently) of care giving — entering the world of hospitals for the majority of this book was painful for me. Beyond that, I was unimpressed with the pop culture mentioned throughout the book — she described someone as looking like a character from “Mad Men” and she even uses Google as a verb. The part where she interviews John Walsh was probably the only part that I found truly enjoyable. [...]

    7. I found this book troubling. Not because of the medical mystery -- that was the most interesting of all. It seems that the book would be better written in the third person, by someone other than the author/experiencer of the madness. By her own account, she cannot describe what it felt like to have her brain be on fire. The book says she uses journalistic techniques to piece together. And yet these tidbits drop in without much sense of how they were discovered (except for the case of the videota [...]

    8. I am the perfect audience for this book: a catastrophic thinker who worries about any and all sensational news. I put off reading this one for a good long time because I was afraiden decided I had better read it, just in case. I could save a life with this information!I listened to the audio, which felt a little flat. It is impressive to consider that the author had to do so much investigative reporting to write her own story simply because she didn't remember it, but the combination of the audi [...]

    9. Wonderful, wonderful book. I'm a neurologist, and it's amazing to see a book written from a patient's perspective, especially one with a such a good outcome. The book progresses from the starting of the disease process and right up to the recovery stage. It's unnerving to read about the psychotic episodes, the complex partial seizures, the generalised seizures and ultimately, the catatonia. It must have been very frightening for both the author and her loved ones to witness all of those events u [...]

    10. !The first half went like this, "what's wrong with me? I'm going crazy" restated in about five thousand ways.Then midway through the book we finally find out SC has NMDA-receptor autoimmune encephalitis, which is sometimes misdiagnosed as schizophrenia (or schizoaffective disorder in SC's case).I really wish the story wasn't presented as a Mystery Diagnosis or an episode of House. Just let us know from the beginning what it is you suffered from and let the story unfold from there.The second half [...]

    11. It might not be the sexiest of subjects, but I really have a thing for neurology. How our billions of brain cells and their chemistry function is still a great mystery, but also toss in immune responses that have gone haywire, and there are complexities here that are beyond fascinating when unraveled.This is the June selection for one of my book clubs, otherwise it is unlikely that this memoir would have drawn me in, but I did enjoy it. One of my teenagers was born over three months preterm, and [...]

    12. I started this book last night, and couldn't put it down until I finished it this morning. I know her story all too well as I've been in a similar dark place myself. Aphasia, myoclonus, amnesia, jemais vu, hyperesthesia, allodynia, hemiparesis, paresthesia, cognitive impairment, impaired executive function, depersonalization, neuropsychological assessments, hemiplegic, acephalgic -- words that began to define my life just last year.Her story is a remarkable one, but as a journalist, I believe sh [...]

    13. Phenomenal - undoubtedly the best non-fiction book I have read so far this year.This a non-fiction book in which Susannah Cahalan has documented a month of complete horror for herself and her family - a month when she went from being a completely 'normal' 24 year old woman to being strapped onto a gurney in a hospital with doctors and nurses contemplating admitting her to a psychiatric ward. It began with flu like symptoms which slowly evolved into constant paranoia - she experienced seizures bu [...]

    14. Imagine one day you are fine, going to work and doing what you always done, then out of the blue you start acting strange. You become paranoid, eventually you start hearing voices and attempt jumping out of moving vehicles. You must caught a bit of the crazy right?Maybe not. This is what happened to Susannah Cahalen, a reporter for the New York Post. One morning she saw a couple of bug bites on her arm and was convinced she had a bed bug infestation. She brought exterminators into her home, even [...]

    15. I cannot figure out why it is so difficult for me to write reviews for books I am passionate about, or which I loved! In looking back at the books I've read on , I realized that almost all of the highest rated books on my shelves have 2 sentence reviews, if any. I guess that's why it's taken a month to figure out what exactly I want to say about Brain on Fire, a medical memoir by journalist Susannah Cahalan. Where do I begin?! Cahalan develops a mysterious illness over the course of 2 months, wh [...]

    16. A must read for anyone interested in psychology, or neuroscience.Susannah is a successful 24-year-old reporter. She has a good relationship with her boyfriend, her divorced parents, and her little cat.Then she wakes up with a bug bite on her arm. She is convinced that bedbugs are infesting her apartment. She calls the exterminator to spray, even though he insists there's no sign of bugs.And what's with all this junk? Why is she holding on to all this stuff? She starts to throw away everything sh [...]

    17. "Maybe it's true what Thomas Moore said," Susannah Cahalan writes,"it is only through mystery and madness that the soul is revealed." How else does one solve the puzzle of the devastating effects of illness, specifically illness of the brain? Some survive, maybe even thrive, while others remain in despondency. The true soul emerges through despair. The healthy brain is a symphony of 100 billion neurons, the actions of each individual brain cell harmonizing into a whole that enables thoughts, mov [...]

    18. **A few spoilers ahead**"I must be getting the flu, I thought.”The doctors don’t actually know how it began for me. What’s clear is that if that man had sneezed on you, you’d most likely just get a cold. For me, it flipped my universe upside down and very nearly sent me to an asylum for life"Our brain is everything. Without it, we are a shell. That’s something we may take for granted, because who wants to think about it. So what happens when something goes wrong, especially when it alt [...]

    19. Grippingmingtional narrative about a rare disease through Susannah's account of what happened before and after her diagnosis. Those of us with an autoimmune disease can relate to this story. I don't share this part of my life often but it took 16 months for me to get diagnosed with myasthenia gravis. It's not as severe as anti-NMDA-receptor autoimmune encephalitis but not fun nonetheless. I think this is an important read for all in the medical field.

    20. Son zamanlarda kurguyla aram çok kötü olduğundan (bknz 2 yıldız verdiğim 3824 kitap), tür değiştirmeye ve kurguyla alakası olan her şeyde olabildiğince uzak bir kitap okumaya karar verdim. Oysa Beynimdeki Yangın o kadar uzun süredir kitaplığımda ki, kitabı ne zaman satın aldığımı bile anımsayamıyorum aslında. Kısmet bu güneymiş.Kitap, New York Post'ta gazetecilik yapan Susannah Cahalan'ın başından geçen bir hastalığı anlatıyor. Hastalığın başlangıcında [...]

    21. Rating = 3.5 starsThe most amazing thing about this book was that she was able to write it at all, given her descent into non-functionality. She is a lucky young woman indeed, in so many many ways.For personal reasons, I'm not going to write a proper review of this book. What I have to say would most certainly invite irritating and argumentative comments from strangers, and I'm just NEVER in the mood for those people.

    22. 4.5 Stars. Equally fascinating and terrifying. I was a psych major, and I've been meaning to read more psych related nonfiction, and I'm pleased with this choice. There is quite a bit of psych/bio related information, but I think she manages to do it in a manner that isn't overwhelming. For me it was a nice refresher. I think one of the most interesting aspects was her social commentary about what it means to possibly be mentally ill. l also appreciated that throughout the book she is cognizant [...]

    23. “The brain is a monstrous, beautiful mess”-William F. Allman Brain on Fire is probably my favorite read in 2017, it was CRAZY GOOD!Susannah, a NY post journalist, tells the story of her month of "madness" where she experienced many psychotic and neurological symptoms, she was admitted to the NYU Department of epilepsy after she had multiple tonic-clonic seizures, but no doctor could tell what was wrong with her even after doing million-dollar-worth of testswhich all turned out negative.She w [...]

    24. A fascinating insight into a rare autoimmune disease which causes the body to attack itself and in this case - the brain. This truly is a story that can (and has) change lives, the writer, a reporter on the New York Post observes her own physical and mental decline and then as her mind descends into chaos, she recalls nothing. Her account is pulled together from interviews, hospital video footage and the journal of her family, until her brain begins to regenerate memory.It's the path that many f [...]

    25. A true-life Dr. House mystery. What starts as two suspected bedbug bites for 20 something reporter Susannah Cahalan quickly escalates into hallucinations, out of body experiences, rampant paranoia and massive seizures. Doctors are stumped when MRIs and blood work come back clean and dismiss is as stress or drinking too much. It takes the persistence of her parents and the intervention of one Dr. Souhel Najjar and a simple paper and pencil test that sets her on a path to recovery. Cahalan digs th [...]

    26. This brief memoir is a bit difficult to review, because, more than with most memoirs, I feel like I'm really reviewing the most difficult period of Susannah Cahalan's life. A lot of memoirs use (or try to use) poetic language and attempt to reflect on a certain period of the author's life and how it affected them--all of which can make for good reading but can also set up a distance between the author and the events she's describing. This, on the other hand, is really a work of reporting. Cahala [...]

    27. Non-fiction account of/by journalist Susannah Cahalan who is struck down by a mysterious illness that nearly takes her sanity and her life.This is her story of her illness, identifying her illness, her recovery and how it affected those around her.Very interesting but very frightening - highly recommended!

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