Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

New York Post journalist, Susanna Cahalan brutally recounts her slow and mysterious descent into madness in Brain on Fire. What began as disorganization grew into paranoia, hallucinations and delusion all accompanied by a bizarre collection of physical symptoms. With her own memory obliterated by her illness, Cahalan uses her keen skills as a journalist to piece together her own medical drama of misdiagnosis and the detection of a rare brain autoimmune disorder. She grips the reader with a compelling story all while imparting fascinating medical details. Cahalan’s story is a potent reminder of the fragility of identity and the value of observant and caring family and friends. 

— From Seth

November 2012 Indie Next List

“A young reporter's near-death experience started with what seemed to be a bedbug bite, followed by an out-of-character migraine. Cahalan forgot a pitch meeting. She snooped on her boyfriend's email. Beloved newspaper clippings were tossed. Garbage piled up in her apartment. And then the seizures began. This compelling story of one woman's descent into madness and the equally horrifying journey of her family to find suitable help works both as a great literary memoir as well as a well-reported medical mystery. You might say the result is Girl, Interrupted with a dash of The Hot Zone and a sprinkling of The Exorcist!”
— Daniel Goldin, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI


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. 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, Susannah 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. "A fascinating look at the disease that . . . could have cost this vibrant, vital young woman her life" (People), Brain on Fire is an unforgettable exploration of memory and identity, faith and love, and a profoundly compelling tale of survival and perseverance that is destined to become a classic.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781451621389
ISBN-10: 1451621388
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: August 6th, 2013
Pages: 266
Language: English