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on April 20, 2013
I was amazed by this book. Compelling, well written, brutally honest, I couldn't put it down. It is also informative, as Cahalan did considerable research about the brain, and included some of it in some very accessible notes. There is a genuine feeling of suspense and fear, as doctors struggle to discover what is wrong with this strange patient while Cahalan's family struggle to support her, while dealing with their own fears, and terrors. I can't recommend this book enough.
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on January 15, 2014
Not to discount her experience, however, the book was not well written. The pace is very slow. I have difficulty getting through it and stopped reading it.
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on June 25, 2015
I really enjoyed this book and I had my eye on it for a pretty long time. I knew it would be something I'd enjoy, especially because it's a memoir, which means that these terrible and amazing things that happened throughout the book are fact, not fiction.

Brain on Fire is the story of Susannah Cahalan's mystery story of a rare illness. No one knows what is happening to her but family, friends and doctors can tell that there is something going on. But what is it? Test result, after test result come back negative but Susannah's mental and psychical state is becoming worse and doctors can't find anything wrong with her. Throughout the month Susannah becomes someone else. This is a story of Susannah's and her close friends difficult journey when her brain was on fire.

Yes, I'll admit that some of the language, like the medical terminology and statistics did overwhelm at times and I had to read this book little by little, however I still really enjoying it.

Reading about memoirs fascinate me. The stories of people's lives interest me and especially those who have such a different lifestyle and/or growing up story than myself. Let's just say I love to know how the other side lives. I like to know how other people are doing from their point of view. It's just so interesting to me. Or just the fact that I like to know everything.

Susannah does a great job telling it how it was from what she gathered in researching her month of madness. Detailed of when her brain was on fire, which I believe when writing the story was hard for her to tell the whole world "embarrassing" details. But she did and for the most part, from how the story goes, she did it to spread the word and to help other people who went through this or for the people who know someone going through something similar or perhaps the same thing.

Even though this book is about the terrible state of a mystery disease Susannah went through there was a light in the tunnel by the end of the book. It was a great touch how Susannah gave some up-to-date statistics of how known the disease is now and the expected recovery numbers and so on.

I really think that this story captures Susannah's state of madness real and personal. I recommend this book to readers who already enjoyed mental illness, mystery, memoirs and/or moving stories. Even if it's not your type of book, read it because this is such an amazing story.

Here's a video of Susannah talking about her illness: I urge that if you don't want to know what she has before reading the book to only watch to about the 3 minute mark. However, even if you know what she was diagnoses with, the journey of her story is something to read.

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on May 7, 2014
I read this book for a book club I belong to.

What a story. A true story of a woman's fight (the author) with a little known diesease called anti-NMDA-receptor autoimmune encephalitis. Look it up for a full explanation of what it is. We went through her syptoms as they developed. We went through fears and worries as she stayed in hospital. We went through her recovery and return to society.

The author did a great job with controlling our emotions. The story took me down with her descent into madness as the disease took control of her life. Then she lifted us up with her miraculous diagnosis and recovery.

I liked how the author did not feel sorry for herself. She did wonder about why it happened to her and why she was so lucky to survive it.

The author did a good job of revealing her character in the book. This was critical to the story as the disease altered her character while it was developing. It could have altered her forever.

The book was easy to read and kept me engrossed. The chapters were short so I could read little bits of it here and there. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it.
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Story Description:
Simon & Schuster|August 6, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-4516-2138-9
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 idenity.
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.
My Review:
Susannah's story is almost unbelievable, but it is real. It just shows how complex our brains really are and how quickly something unexpected can happen. During her month into hell, I wasn't sure she was going to make it out the other end. If it hadn't been for the dedication and devotion of one specific doctor she most likely would have lost her mind forever and never regained her self.
The story was riveting to say the least and kept me glued to my seat. The medical jargon was explained in layman's terms so it was easy to understand exactly what was going on with Susannah each step of the way.
I would highly recommend this book to friends and relatives.
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on July 12, 2013
This book is a great read, not only does Susannah relive her experience but you can tell she did a lot of research on what happened to her during her "month of madness". By showing the emotion everyone felt around her during this time its almost like you were there too.
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on March 21, 2013
I kept thinking what if this had happened to me!

True story from which I learned a lot about health and love.

I recommend it!
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on February 3, 2014
A well written book on a very interesting premise. Insightful, succinct and educative account of a crippling disease of the mind and the patience's odyssey back to normalcy. True to life and helpful stories like Susannah Cahalan's Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, and other Janvier Chando's educative story The Grandmothers, help give us strength and hope in life.
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on April 17, 2015
Honestly it was an eye opener for me as psychiatry resident. It help me a lot to be more thoughtful and taking or seeing my psychiatric illness from different perspective.
I recommended this book to every one how is dealing or treating patient especially those who dealing with psychiatric or neurological illnesses
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on January 16, 2016
Wonderful combination of raw emotion, reconstructed events (memory loss), often times awkward personal interactions, philosophical musings and technical information. Very unusual perspective due to author's experiences and incomplete memory; excellent writing. This book kept me turning the pages until it was done.
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