Brain on Fire Susannah cahalan: Bukunmi omojola


The book narrates Cahalan's issues with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis and the process by which she was diagnosed with this form of encephalitis. She wakes up in a hospital with no memory of the events of the previous month, during which time she would have violent episodes and delusions. Her eventual diagnosis is made more difficult by various physicians misdiagnosing her with several theories such as "partying too much" and schizoaffective disorder. Eventually several physicians, including Dr. Souhel Najjar, began to suspect that Cahalan was suffering from an autoimmune disease. Dr. Najjar diagnosed Cahalan using a test that involved her drawing a clock, a test normally given to people suspected of having dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Rather than drawing the clock face normally, the disease caused Cahalan to draw all of the numbers 1 through 12 on the right face of the clock, because the right side of her brain, which regulates the left side of the body, was inflamed. Najjar used this to help diagnose Cahalan and start her road to recovery.

Characters: susannah, Stephen, Dr. Najjar, susannah's mom, susannah's dad, Allen.

Conflict: Susannah fights against a rare disease and her self. A part of her doesn't have confidence in recovering from the disease so she has to fight against the part that is stopping her from recovering.

setting: New York University Medical Center

3 memoir techniques: Internal monologue, Dialogue, Build suspence


1. chutzpah

unbelievable gall; insolence; audacity

2. grim

harshly uninviting or formidable in manner or appearance

3. whet

sharpen by rubbing

4. haphazard

dependent upon or characterized by chance

5. nostalgic

unhappy about being away and longing for familiar things

6. inexplicable

incapable of being explained or accounted for

7. intensified

made more sharp

8. palpitation

a rapid and irregular heart beat

9. deteriorate

become worse or disintegrate

10. plasma

the watery fluid in which blood cells are suspended

Theme: I believe the author of the book is trying to say that the most deadliest situation can be resolved with a little bit of hope. All through susannah's stay in the hospital her family never lost hope i her.

Connections: Unlike Susannah many people in the world get diagnosed with the wrong disease and end up dying.


I think the book deserves 4stars because although there were lots of medical terms the author used a lot of imagery that filled in for the moments when the medical terms threw me of course.

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