Thursday, January 23, 2014

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

I had been eyeing Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan for a long time at Barnes & Noble.  I finally picked it up one night.  After I graduated with my B.S., I went back to school and took some psychology classes.  I love learning about the mind and the brain: what makes the brain function normally, what kinds of abnormalities persist, how the brain works, and what amazing things it's capable of.

Brain on Fire isn't what I thought it was going to be.  It was a good book about a rare disease that the Cahalan has which is beneficial for anyone who may be reading the book and going through a similar diagnosis.  It's great that she gets awareness out for her disease.  Most of the book was about her time in the hospital and diagnosing her condition.

I did love this quote from the book:

"Looking back at this time, I see that I'd begun to surrender to the disease, allowing all the aspects of my personality that I value - patience, kindness, and courteousness - to evaporate.  I was a slave to the machinations of my aberrant brain.  We are, in the end, a sum of our parts, and when the body fails, all the virtues we hold dear go with it."

Overview from Barnes & Noble's website:
An award-winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller that goes far beyond its riveting medical mystery,Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman’s struggle to recapture her identity.
When twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she’d gotten there. Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper. Now she was labeled violent, psychotic, a flight risk. What happened?
In a swift and breathtaking narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing true story of her descent into madness, her family’s inspiring faith in her, and the lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen. “A fascinating look at the disease that . . . could have cost this vibrant, vital young woman her life” (People), Brain on Fire is an unforgettable exploration of memory and identity, faith and love, and a profoundly compelling tale of survival and perseverance that is destined to become a classic.

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