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Download Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, by Susannah Cahalan Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Susannah Cahalan Narrator: Heather Henderson Publisher: Highbridge Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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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Quotes & Awards

  • “Captivating…Cahalan’s prose carries a sharp, unsparing tabloid punch in the tradition of Pete Hamill and Jimmy Breslin.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A fascinating look at the disease that—if not for a nick-of-time diagnosis—could have cost this vibrant, vital young woman her life.”


  • “Swift and haunting.”

    Scientific American

  • “The best reporters never stop asking questions, and Cahalan is no exception…The result is a kind of anti-memoir, an out-of-body personal account of a young woman’s fight to survive one of the cruelest diseases imaginable. And on every level, it’s remarkable…Cahalan is nothing if not tenacious, and she perfectly tempers her brutal honesty with compassion and something like vulnerability. It’s indisputable that Cahalan is a gifted reporter, and Brain on Fire is a stunningly brave book. But even more than that, she’s a naturally talented prose stylist—whip-smart but always unpretentious—and it’s nearly impossible to stop reading her, even in the book’s most painful passages…Brain on Fire comes from a place of intense pain and unthinkable isolation, but finds redemption in Cahalan’s unflagging, defiant toughness. It’s an unexpected gift of a book from one of America’s most courageous young journalists.”


  • “The bizarre and confounding illness that beset the 24-year-old New York Post reporter in early 2009 so ravaged her mentally and physically that she became unrecognizable to coworkers, family, friends, and—most devastatingly—herself…She dedicates this miracle of a book to ‘those without a diagnosis’…[An] unforgettable memoir.”


  • “This fascinating memoir by a young New York Post reporter…describes how she crossed the line between sanity and insanity…Cahalan expertly weaves together her own story and relevant scientific information…compelling.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Focusing her journalistic toolbox on her story, Cahalan untangles the medical mystery surrounding her condition…A fast-paced and well-researched trek through a medical mystery to a hard-won recovery.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • Selected for the November 2012 Indie Next List
  • A New York Times Bestseller
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About the Author

Susannah Cahalan is a news reporter at the New York Post whose award-winning work has also been featured in the New York Times. She lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.