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Archive: Other Books > Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan - 4 stars

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message 1: by Joy D (new)

Joy D | 4650 comments Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan - 4 stars

Tags: Brain-related, mental illness, psychology, science

This book is Susannah Cahalan’s memoir about her descent into and recovery from a rare brain disease. Prior to becoming ill, she was self-sufficient, with an apartment in New York City and a job as a reporter. At age twenty-four, she began experiencing hallucinations, paranoid delusions, seizures, and eventually, catatonia. She quickly became a patient requiring constant care. At the outset, nobody knew what was wrong with her. MRIs, blood tests, EEGs, and other diagnostic tests were run, but all came back negative. Having been misdiagnosed as alcohol withdrawal, bipolar disorder, and schizoaffective disorder, she is fortunate to have met the right doctors at the right time in New York University hospital. To write this book, she viewed tapes of herself in the hospital, examined her medical records, and conducted many interviews, as she had very little memory of what occurred.

This riveting account provides a vivid picture of the fear and anger she and her family experienced while trying to figure out what was happening to her. It was terrifying to deal with what initially appeared to be a mental illness taking over her life. She was fortunate that she was covered by insurance and her family could afford the deductibles. One can only imagine how a person without such benefits would fare. She also possessed a strong support network. Her mother, father, step-parents, boyfriend, and other friends, were extremely supportive, visiting daily at the hospital, and never giving up hope.

It is amazing how much we do not yet know about the inner workings of the human brain, and its impact on the body. This memoir will surely help people, as her articles and media appearances have already done, in not accepting a diagnosis without pursuing additional opinions and exploring the various forms of autoimmune brain-related disorders have been identified since 2007, when her disease was discovered. People suffering from this illness in the past have likely ended up in psychiatric wards or institutions. The story of how her illness was diagnosed and treated is fascinating and well-told, and the science is handled in an easily-understood manner. Highly recommended to those interested in brain-related science.

Link to my review:

message 2: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2105 comments really interesting.

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