Brain on Fire is a fascinating memoir about a young woman’s descent into madness. Susannah Cahalan, only 24 at the time, tells the almost hard to believe account of her experience with the autoimmune disease anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. Cahalan wakes up, strapped to a hospital bed with no memory of what has happened to her, or who she even is. She is labeled as psychotic and unrecognizable to her close friends and family. This story starts out with Cahalan getting sick as a result of what she believes was bedbugs. But soon enough this ‘bedbug scare’ escalates. After days of sensory sensitivity and several dissociating episodes which she describes as ‘out of body experiences’, Cahalan is hospitalized and soon enough is lost the mysterious disease that has taken over her body. Millions of dollars’ worth of blood tests come back negative. Doctors everywhere are unable to come up with a diagnosis, let alone find a cure to what will help bring her back to reality.
Through her journalistic skills, Cahalan attempts to figure out what happened in this time that has since been left completely blank in her mind. After the cure of her illness, Cahalan is determined to revisit that point in her life in order to share her story. In this thrilling true story, the New York Post journalist tries to crack the mystery of what happened to her during her ‘month of madness’ through surveillance tapes, research, and hundreds interviews with doctors and families. Cahalan shares this life changing experience that she herself is physically unable to remember. It is a captivating tale of self-discovery, identity, faith and survival which I recommend.
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