Brain on Fire
my month of madness
The girl in the black lace bra
America's most wanted
On the road again
A touch of madness
Search and seizure
The Capgras delusion
Multiple personality disorder
The slope of the line
Death with interruption
A beautiful mess
Blue devil fit
The big reveal
Wild at heart
Within normal limits
The five w's
Hometown boy makes good
The purple lady
One day in 2009, twenty-four-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a strange hospital room, strapped to her bed, under guard, and unable to move or speak. A wristband marked her as a "flight risk," and her medical records--chronicling a monthlong hospital stay of which she had no memory at all--showed hallucinations, violence, and dangerous instability. Only weeks earlier, Susannah had been on the threshold of a new, adult life, a healthy, ambitious college grad a few months into her first serious relationship and a promising career as a cub reporter at a major New York newspaper. Who was the stranger who had taken over her body? What was happening to her mind? In this swift narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing true story of her inexplicable descent into madness nad the brilliant, lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn't happen. A team of doctors would spend a month--and more than a million dollars--trying desperately to pin down a medical explanation for what had gone wrong. Meanwhile, as the days passed and her family, boyfriend, and friends helplessly stood watch by her bed, she began to move inexorably through psychosis into catatonia and, ultimately, toward death. Yet even as this period nearly tore her family apart, it offered an extraordinary testament to their faith in Susannah and their refusal to let her go. Then, at the last minute, celebrated neurologist Souhel Najjar joined her team and, with he help of a lucky, ingenious test, saved her life. He recognized the symptoms of a newly discovered autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks th brain, a disease now thought to be tied to both schizophrenia and autism, and perhaps the root of "demonic possessions" throughout history. Far more than simply a riveting read and a crackling medical mystery, Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman's struggle to recapture her identity adn to rediscover herself among the fragments left behind. Using all her considerable journalistic skills, and building from hospital records and surveillance video, interviews with family and friends, and excerpts from the deeply moving journal her father kept during her illness, Susannah pieces together the story of her "lost month" to write an unforgettable memoir about memory and identity, faith and love.
From the critics
NYPL Staff Pick
A young New York Post reporter struggles for a month with a rare autoimmune disease that attacks her brain.
- Selection Team
Nonfiction: A young New York Post reporter struggles for a month with a rare autoimmune disease that attacks her brain.
June 5th. In this illustrated lecture the author chronicles the swift path of her illness and the lucky, last-minute intervention led by Dr. Souhel Najjar at NYU Langone Medical Center. Doctor and patient will join the stage for the first time together to share the story of “Brain on Fire.”
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