It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but then again, it’s been awhile since I read something that I liked enough to share with you. But Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, by Susannah Cahalan, is definitely a book worth sharing.
Brain on Fire is Cahalan’s account of her mysterious neurological illness which essentially caused her to go crazy. Cahalan went from being an ordinary woman in her mid-twenties who had everything–a job she liked, an apartment of her own, and even a new boyfriend–to someone her friends and family didn’t even recognize, both in physical appearance and personality.
One thing I found very interesting about this book is that it’s a memoir written by someone who has almost no memory of the experience she’s writing about. It works because of Cahalan’s journalistic background. She starts the book by explaining her process–she conducted countless interviews with her family, friends, and doctors and nurses, had access to surveillance videos taken of her during her time in the epilepsy ward at NYU, and used that information to build upon the few memories she had from that time. The end result is a gripping, “user friendly” account of a medical mystery and how it affected her life.
Many times throughout the book, Cahalan wonders how many people who suffer from the same disease go untreated, resulting in death or institutionalization, and it is that haunting question that has remained with me as a reader.
Cahalan, Susannah. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012.
Image from BN.com.