Book Rating (83)
Narrator Rating (17)

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

Unabridged Audio Book

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Heather Henderson

7 Hours 50 Minutes

HighBridge Company

November 2012

Audio Book Summary

One day, Susannah Cahalan woke up in a strange hospital room, strapped to her bed, under guard, and unable to move or speak. Her medical records, from a month-long hospital stay of which she had no memory, showed psychosis, violence, and dangerous instability. Yet, only weeks earlier she had been a healthy, ambitious twenty-four-year-old, six months into her first serious relationship and a sparkling career as a cub reporter.

Susannah's astonishing memoir chronicles the swift path of her illness and the lucky, last-minute intervention led by one of the few doctors capable of saving her life. As weeks ticked by and Susannah moved inexplicably from violence to catatonia, $1 million worth of blood tests and brain scans revealed nothing. The exhausted doctors were ready to commit her to the psychiatric ward, in effect condemning her to a lifetime of institutions, or death, until Dr. Souhel Najjar, nicknamed Dr. House, joined her team. He asked Susannah to draw one simple sketch, which became key to diagnosing her with a newly discovered autoimmune disease in which her body was attacking her brain, an illness now thought to be the cause of "demonic possessions" throughout history.

With sharp reporting drawn from hospital records, scientific research, and interviews with doctors and family, Brain on Fire is a crackling mystery and an unflinching, gripping personal story that marks the debut of an extraordinary writer.

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  • Toni N.

    Well written, informative and gives one lots to think about.

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  • Flora Hoffman

    Terrifying yet fascinating. The narration was very well done. My daughter recommended this book and I couldn't put it down.

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  • Sarah M

    Worst narration I think I've ever heard. Sounds like a 50 year-old woman who's has a few too many glasses of Chardonnay. I much prefer audio books to print but I can't stomach this any longer.

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  • Pam Schuer

    What an amazing story. It reads like fiction, but is the true story of one woman's struggle to get a proper diagnosis and recovery from an autoimmune neurological disease. Filled with scientific terms but easily accessible to the everyday reader, Brain on Fire was a truly inspiring story. Readers of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Left Neglected will enjoy this book.

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