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Brain on Fire – My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan is the story of the author’s battle with a rare sickness that made her paranoid, hallucinatory, and caused her loved ones to question her soundness. At last, the origin of her condition proved to be a physical one, an extraordinary sickness with a name that does not make the idea of the ailment quickly evident to the layman. However, the infection, anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, is thoroughly approached and dissected by Cahalan throughout the book. 
An interesting fact about the book is that Cahalan, who has since recuperated, recalls nothing about her month-long hospitalization — it’s a fortunate amnesia that many people, with similar sicknesses, develop. In any case, the best journalists inquire constantly, and Cahalan is no special case. In Brain on Fire, the journalist relives — through hospital security tapes and interviews with her companions, family and the doctors who at last figured out how to save her life — her ghastly experience as a victim of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. The outcome is a sort of surreal autobiography, an out-of-body individual record of a young lady’s battle to survive one of the cruelest sicknesses possible. This unique point of view creates a bizarre atmosphere and emphasizes the confusion that pervaded Cahalan’s mind during that hellish time. 
The first thing I learned about from reading this book is anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. This is a relatively rare disease that is most common in females who are approximately 21 years of age. It is suspected of being an underlying cause of historical accounts of demonic possession. Next, I learned about an interesting condition called Capgras Syndrome. This is an irrational belief that someone the victim knows or recognizes has been replaced by an imposter. In some cases, the person experiencing the delusion may believe an animal, object, or even a home is an imposter. Capgras syndrome can affect anyone, but it’s more common in women. In rare cases, it can also affect children. Lastly, I learned about plasmapheresis, a method of treatment that was one of multiple that were utilized to treat Cahalan’s disease. Plasmapheresis is a process in which the liquid part of the blood, or plasma, is separated from the blood cells. Typically, the plasma is replaced with another solution such as saline or albumin, or the plasma is treated and then returned to your body to get rid of harmful antibodies.
Brain on Fire – My Month of Madness is incredibly well written, and the author does a remarkable job about being open and honest, in even unflattering ways, to be true to the story and to present an accurate picture of just what this terrifying disease is capable of doing. It was a page-turner — and it was also all true. It is a fine balance of personal story blended with real science. I would recommend this piece to anyone who wants to read a medically-related book or an inspiring story about conquering a major life obstacle. 

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