Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan Review | Summary and Q&A

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September 28, 2016
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ThePoptimist
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Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan Review

TL;DR

A young reporter's life takes a terrifying turn as she experiences hallucinations, seizures, and paranoia, leading to a rare autoimmune encephalitis diagnosis.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What initially prompted Susannah to seek medical help?

Susannah initially noticed two red dots on her arm and believed it was a bed bug infestation.

Q: Why did doctors dismiss Susannah's symptoms as stress and anxiety?

Susannah's symptoms were atypical, and her medical tests, including MRIs and blood tests, came back normal.

Q: What role did Dr. Souhel Najjar play in Susannah's diagnosis?

Dr. Souhel Najjar administered a pencil and paper test called the "Panzarino-Frommer Test," which revealed abnormalities and led to the autoimmune encephalitis diagnosis.

Q: How did Susannah's experience affect her relationship with her boyfriend?

Susannah's boyfriend witnessed her intense episodes and struggled to cope with the ordeal, causing strain in their relationship.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Susannah Cahalen, a reporter, starts experiencing physical and mental symptoms, including hallucinations, numbness, and delusions.

  • Doctors initially dismiss her symptoms as stress and anxiety, but they worsen over time.

  • Finally, a pencil and paper test administered by Dr. Souhel Najjar leads to the diagnosis of NDMA autoimmune encephalitis.

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