Saturday, January 26, 2013

Book #4: Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

I was lucky enough to receive yet another box of books from my dear friend @kayakgal. The first book I read from the box was Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan. I'm so glad I picked it up first. What a fascinating read!

The author chronicles her personal medical mystery in Brain on Fire. Much of the book is derived from her research because she has few memories of the traumatic ordeal. In the beginning, she thinks the is bipolar. Soon, she starts experiencing seizures. The doctors can't figure out what is going on with her. They run tests, conduct MRIs and EEGs, but everything comes back negative. They don't know whether what she is suffering from is physical or psychological. She is obviously physically unwell, but at the same time she is exhibiting signs of psychosis.

Finally, a doctor comes on her case who not only tells her he will figure it out, he actually does. He does much more for her than the doctor who said she simply had a drinking problem.

A secondary part of the story is Susannah's relationships. She and her father become much closer because of her ordeal. Her fairly new boyfriend stuck by her, something I bet many guys would not have done. Her mother, to whom she had always been close, was the person she took her anger out on. However, they too became even closer.

Susannah does an amazing job of putting her story together. Luckily, she had journals, videos, and memories from those around her to turn to. It is fascinating to read about how her illness started and quickly worsened until she was basically catatonic, then how she began to recover and regain her life.

She also does a great job at explaining technical neuroscience in a way that is understandable to those with a minimal knowledge of such medical terms. I'm so glad I got to read Susannah's story and hope the best for her in the future.


  1. Thanks for the review Amy. This sounds like a very interesting read!

  2. Thanks so much for stopping by our blog to enter the Pawalla giveaway!
    We just wanted to come over and say hi. This book sounds amazing that she was able to put the pieces together.

    Have a wonderful week!

  3. Love this book hung on every word. The author went through a lot but wrote the book very well! Enjoyed it.