Brain on Fire
An award-winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller that goes far beyond its riveting medical mystery, Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman’s struggle to recapture her identity.

When twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she’d gotten there. Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper. Now she was labeled violent, psychotic, a flight risk. What happened?

In a swift and breathtaking narrative, Cahalan tells the astonishing true story of her descent into madness, her family’s inspiring faith in her, and the lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen.

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Book TitleBrain on Fire
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Brain on Fire Reviews

  • Myrna
    Sep 10, 2016


    Gripping....alarming....educational narrative about a rare disease through Susannah's account of what happened before and after her diagnosis. Those of us with an autoimmune disease can relate to this story. I don't share this part of my life often but it took 16 months for me to get d...

  • Jennifer
    Aug 3, 2016


    Powerful, eye opening, life changing. Anti-NMDA-receptor autoimmune encephalitis is a disease now believed to have been around since the beginning of time. It only recently found a name, still no explanation. The symptoms range from hallucinations, seizures, paranoia, rigid zombie like...

  • Dawn
    Jun 15, 2016


    A very interesting non-fiction medical mystery that read like a suspense novel. Susannah Cahalan was a healthy twenty something year old working as a full-time reporter for the New York Post when she started experiencing symptoms such as forgetfulness, appetite loss and loss of motor c...

  • Stephanie
    Jun 14, 2016


    4 plus stars - memoir of an up and coming 24 year-old woman reporter who suddenly begins to have unexplained seizures and symptoms of psychosis...I listened to Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness on audio and found it both compelling and scary. The story starts when Susannah Cahalan ...

  • Melissa Chung
    May 30, 2016

    Melissa Chung

    Wow what a fully immersive and descriptive look at Susannah Cahalan's progressive fall into Madness and the overwhelming rise to recovery.In 2009, Susannah as everyone knew her, started to slip away. She was described by friends and family as "outgoing and talkative", but during her de...

  • Carmen
    Mar 28, 2016


    A must read for anyone interested in psychology, or neuroscience.Susannah is a successful 24-year-old reporter. She has a good relationship with her boyfriend, her divorced parents, and her little cat.Then she wakes up with a bug bite on her arm. She is convinced that bedbugs are infes...

  • Debbie
    Jan 29, 2016


    Brain on Fire: Quick, call the fire department! What? They can’t find the fire? It’s still raging and the firefighters are driving around in circles. Help! This is a memoir about a young woman, Susannah, who suddenly became psychotic and then developed a host of other neurolo...

  • Bonnie Jean
    Nov 30, 2015

    Bonnie Jean

    I took care of a patient with this rare, tragic, and intriguing disorder called Anti-NMDA Receptor Autoimmune Encephalitis. Her complex and terrifying journey through this disease in ongoing. Over the course of caring for her, her sister mentioned this book. In this rare disorder, peop...

  • Jonathan Ashleigh
    Nov 16, 2015

    Jonathan Ashleigh

    When you read you enter another world, and — as someone who is uncomfortable (with even the idea apparently) of care giving — entering the world of hospitals for the majority of this book was painful for me. Beyond that, I was unimpressed with the pop culture mentioned throug...

  • Julie Ehlers
    Oct 18, 2015

    Julie Ehlers

    This brief memoir is a bit difficult to review, because, more than with most memoirs, I feel like I'm really reviewing the most difficult period of Susannah Cahalan's life. A lot of memoirs use (or try to use) poetic language and attempt to reflect on a certain period of the author's l...