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

This book was terrifying! Especially considering I am a woman in the age bracket that this horrible illness tends to attack. Although something like this can really happen to any of us… Susannah’s month of madness is actually a startling decent and tedious recovery that lasts way longer. In her memoir she is very objective and investigative. She needed hospital records and the journals of others to help piece together lost time and to validate her thoughts and expose hallucinations. She is one of the first few to be diagnosed with something so scary, debilitating and sometimes deadly. What happened to Susannah may be what has caused thousands of people to be committed to asylums or thought to be possessed. It took over $1 million, many doctors, a loving family, and a resilient girl to survive this and go on to write about it. I was completely absorbed in this memoir and was so appalled by the illness and its effects – I had to keep reminding myself that Susannah survives. I gave this book to my mother to read and she later admitted she had to put it down as it was too horrifying for her to continue – as a mother she just couldn’t read it. I don’t think this is how everyone feels though as it has become a bestseller and it’s being turned into a movie.

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