Brain on Fire; My Month of Madness – Susannah Cahalan

An intensely captivating novel that takes you through Cahalan’s ‘month of madness’. She was a victim of a rare disease called anti-NMDA-receptor autoimmune encephalitis which causes seizures, memory loss, psychosis amongst other terrifying symptoms and the book recounts her experience of the disease – a lot of which came from videos of her in hospital and interviews with her doctors and family as she has almost no memories of the time before she was diagnosed and afterwards, when she was in hospital. The novel mixes scientific explanations of the disease with notes from her diary and narratives provided by her family and is a seriously interesting read! Terrifying to say the least, as well as powerful and informative. The story has an happy ending, as she recovers to her ‘pre’ state, and her optimism post recovery is heartfelt and enlightening. Nonetheless the message at the core of the book, about the horrifying power of the disease and her and her family’s struggle through the disease is always present, reminding the reader of the fine line between sanity and insanity and of how close we all are to the precipitous edge of losing control.

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