Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness Study Guide from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotesThese notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community. Brain on Fire is about the dramatic turn of events surrounding Susannah Cahalan and her unusual medical diagnosis. Cahalan was on the verge of great happiness and success in her life. She was establishing a serious relationship with a nice guy. Also, she began a rewarding career at a well-regarded newspaper publication in New York. Yet at the young age of twenty-four, her life got flipped upside down when she learned she has a rare autoimmune disorder affecting her brain functioning. It started when she woke up in a hospital bed with no memory of how she got there.
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
The book details Cahalan's struggle with a rare autoimmune disease and her recovery. The book narrates Cahalan's issues with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis and the process by which she was diagnosed with this form of encephalitis. She wakes up in a hospital with no memory of the events of the previous month, during which time she would have violent episodes and delusions. Her eventual diagnosis is made more difficult by various physicians misdiagnosing her with several theories such as "partying too much" and schizoaffective disorder. Souhel Najjar , began to suspect that Cahalan was suffering from an autoimmune disease.
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Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness Summary & Study Guide Description
In the end, the source of her condition proved to a physical one, a unique disease with a name that does not make the nature of the disease immediately apparent to the lay person. However, the disease, anti-NMDAS-receptor encephalitis, is thoroughly covered by Cahalan in terms that are clear and understandable. Susannah Cahalan was a bright and attractive twenty-four year old woman who lived in New York City and was a reporter for the New York Post. She had been with the Post since she was seventeen when she was hired as an intern. She earned her degree at Washington University in St. While a senior there and still associated with the Post, she got an exclusive interview with a notorious pedophile and kidnapper that garnered the nation's attention. Cahalan's journey into a month of madness began with two small insect bites on her arm.