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Brain on Fire

My Month of Madness

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


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, Susannah 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. “A fascinating look at the disease that…could have cost this vibrant, vital young woman her life” (People), Brain on Fire is an unforgettable exploration of memory and identity, faith and love, and a profoundly compelling tale of survival and perseverance that is destined to become a classic.

From Publishers Weekly

Sep 24, 2012 – In 2009, Cahalan was in a serious relationship and her career as a reporter at the New York Post was taking off. But suddenly, as she tells it in this engaging memoir, she began suffering from a bizarre amalgam of debilitating symptoms including memory loss, paranoia, and severe psychosis that left her in a catatonic state that moved her close to death. Physicians remained baffled until one extraordinary doctor determined that Cahalan was in the grip of some kind of autoimmune disease. Released from the hospital after 28 days, she had no memory of her stay there. DVDs recorded in the hospital were the only link she had to her startling condition. Without this electronic evidence, I could never have imagined myself capable of such madness and misery, she writes. Focusing her journalistic toolbox on her story, Cahalan untangles the medical mystery surrounding her condition. She is dogged by one question: How many other people throughout history suffered from my disease and others like it but went untreated? The question is made more pressing by the knowledge that even though the disease was discovered in 2007, some doctors I spoke to believe that it s been around at least as long as humanity has. A fast-paced and well-researched trek through a medical mystery to a hard-won recovery.

Customer Reviews

Brain on Fire

This book should be read by all doctors and medical personnel!

The author chronicles her progression into madness with clarity and vivid description. Presenting the classic symptoms of schizophrenia, Ms. Cahalan came very close to being institutionalized due to a misdiagnosis of mental illness. If the stars had not aligned she would be dead. In come doctors on the cutting edge of research with the proper diagnosis of a rare encephalitis. With aggressive treatment and the unwavering support of her family and boyfriend, she has fully recovered.

So little is known about the brain. One doctor naively insists her symptoms are due to alcohol withdrawal (even though she had no history of excessive use) or it was a reaction to her birth control patch! Ergo, why all doctors should add this book to their library.

A riveting read. There is no doubt in my mind that this book has and will save lives. How lucky the world is to have an increased knowledge of the brain due to the courage of a young journalist willing to share her journey in such a responsible manner.

Brain on Fire

Riveting from beginning to end. A must read.


Wonderful read. I will always think of this book when I am faced with a difficult patient situation.

Brain on Fire
View in iTunes
  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Nov 13, 2012
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Seller: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.
  • Print Length: 288 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Version: 1.0
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings