Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
In this real-life medical drama, New York Post reporter Cahalan is hospitalized when she literally loses her mind. $1 million dollars worth of tests later, her doctors have no idea what's wrong with her—until her personal Dr. House joins the team and makes the diagnosis. Cahalan recovers, remembering nothing: she uncovered the material for this memoir by interviewing friends, family, and her medical team, reviewing her medical records, and watching hospital security videotapes of herself.
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.