Brain on fire : my month of madness

by Cahalan, Susannah.

Format: Print Book 2012.
Availability: Available at 15 Libraries 15 of 33 copies
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ACLA Mobile Library Services Non-Fiction Collection RC390 .C24 2012
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Andrew Bayne Memorial Library Nonfiction 616.8 Caha
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Brentwood Library Nonfiction 616.832092 Cahalan
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Community Library of Allegheny Valley - Harrison Non Fiction 616.83 CAHALAN
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Community Library of Castle Shannon Biography 92 CAHALAN Susannah
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Green Tree Public Library Biography 92 CAHALAN
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Monroeville Public Library Non-fiction 616.832 CAHALAN
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Robinson Library Non-Fiction 616.8 CAHALAN
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Upper St. Clair Township Library Health & Fitness 616.832 CAH
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Whitehall Public Library Biography Collection BIOG 92 Cahalan, Susannah
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Summary
A gripping memoir and medical suspense story about a young New York Post reporter's struggle with a rare and terrifying disease, opening a new window into the fascinating world of brain science.

One day in 2009, twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a strange hospital room, strapped to her bed, under guard, and unable to move or speak. A wristband marked her as a "flight risk," and her medical records--chronicling a month-long hospital stay of which she had no memory at all--showed hallucinations, violence, and dangerous instability. Only weeks earlier, Susannah had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: a healthy, ambitious college grad a few months into her first serious relationship and a promising career as a cub reporter at a major New York newspaper. Who was the stranger who had taken over her body? What was happening to her mind?

In this swift and breathtaking narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing true story of her inexplicable descent into madness and the brilliant, lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn't happen. A team of doctors would spend a month--and more than a million dollars--trying desperately to pin down a medical explanation for what had gone wrong. Meanwhile, as the days passed and her family, boyfriend, and friends helplessly stood watch by her bed, she began to move inexorably through psychosis into catatonia and, ultimately, toward death. Yet even as this period nearly tore her family apart, it offered an extraordinary testament to their faith in Susannah and their refusal to let her go.

Then, at the last minute, celebrated neurologist Souhel Najjar joined her team and, with the help of a lucky, ingenious test, saved her life. He recognized the symptoms of a newly discovered autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the brain, a disease now thought to be tied to both schizophrenia and autism, and perhaps the root of "demonic possessions" throughout history.

Far more than simply a riveting read and a crackling medical mystery, Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman's struggle to recapture her identity and to rediscover herself among the fragments left behind. Using all her considerable journalistic skills, and building from hospital records and surveillance video, interviews with family and friends, and excerpts from the deeply moving journal her father kept during her illness, Susannah pieces together the story of her "lost month" to write an unforgettable memoir about memory and identity, faith and love. It is an important, profoundly compelling tale of survival and perseverance that is destined to become a classic.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "*Starred Review* In this fascinating memoir by a young New York Post reporter previously known for going undercover as a stripper and writing a butt-implant story headlined Rear and Present Danger, Cahalan describes how she crossed the line between sanity and insanity after an unknown pathogen invaded her body and caused an autoimmune reaction that jump-started brain inflammation, paranoia, and seizures. Her divorced parents put aside their differences and rose to the occasion, sitting by her during the month she was confined to the hospital, about which she remembers nothing. Her boyfriend stayed with her, and one wonderful doctor, noticing that she walked and talked like a late-stage Alzheimer's patient, was determined to get to the bottom of her medical mystery. Luckily, she was insured, because her treatment cost $1 million. Cahalan expertly weaves together her own story and relevant scientific and medical information about autoimmune diseases, which are about two-thirds environmental and one-third genetic in origin. So, she writes, an external trigger, such as a sneeze or a toxic apartment, probably combined with a genetic predisposition toward developing aggressive antibodies to create her problem. A compelling health story.--Springen, Karen Copyright 2010 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "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. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Cahalan, Susannah -- Health.
Cahalan, Susannah -- Mental health.
Encephalitis -- Patients -- United States -- Biography.
Autoimmune diseases -- Patients -- United States -- Biography.
Frontal lobes -- Diseases -- Patients -- United States -- Biography.
Limbic system -- Diseases -- Patients -- United States -- Biography.
Diagnostic errors -- United States -- Case studies.
Publisher New York :Free Press,2012.
Edition 1st Free Press hardcover ed.
Language English
Description xii, 264 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages [251]-259).
ISBN 9781451621372
145162137X
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