Book Review – Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

Imagine succumbing to an illness that slowly and methodically strips you of the characteristics that define you until you’re teetering on the edge of insanity and waking up tied down to a hospital bed. This is the true story presented by Susannah Cahalan, a New York Post reporter plagued with a life-threatening illness in the prime of her life.

This narrative is an astonishing & detailed account of the author’s personal fight against anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. This devastating & potentially lethal illness is an autoimmune disease that wasn’t officially discovered until 2007. Patients of the disease exhibit a variety of symptoms, most notably being psychiatric complications and seizures.

The scariest part about this illness is the fact that is can be easily overlooked by physicians, and most likely caused numerous misdiagnoses prior to its discovery. Imagine experiencing seizures and psychotic episodes, being diagnosed as schizophrenic or bipolar, and in reality you have a curable autoimmune disease.

All neurologists should read this book, but I recommend it to everyone. The story is simply astonishing and extremely insightful. The author presents a sinister situation in an exciting and entertaining manner. Further, she successfully presents scientific information in a way that maintains the readers attention.

Description in a single word: astonishing


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