One day in 2009, twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a strange hospital room, strapped to her bed, and wearing a wristband that marked her as a "flight risk." Her medical records—chronicling a month-long hospital stay, of which she had no memory at all—showed hallucinations, violence, and dangerous instability. Only weeks earlier, Susannah had been a healthy, ambitious college grad a few months into her first serious relationship and a promising career as a cub reporter at a major New York newspaper. Who was the stranger who had taken over her body? What was happening to her mind?
In this swift and breathtaking narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing story of her inexplicable descent into madness, the period that nearly tore her closest friends and family apart, and the brilliant, lifesaving diagnosis that almost didn't happen. A team of doctors would spend a month—and more than a million dollars—searching for a medical explanation before they recognized the symptoms of a newly discovered autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the brain, a disease now thought to be tied to both schizophrenia and autism, and perhaps the root of "demonic possessions" throughout history.
Praised as "captivating" (The New York Times Book Review)and "a fascinating look at the disease that…could have cost this vibrant, vital young woman her life" (People), Brain on Fire is the account of one woman's struggle to rediscover herself among the fragments left behind. Using her considerable journalistic skills, Susannah pieces together the story of her "lost month" to write an unforgettable memoir about memory and identity, faith and love. It is an important, profoundly compelling tale of survival and perseverance that is destined to become a classic.