Brain On Fire -My month of madness-

Author: Susannah Cahalan

Created By Caitlin Schipper

It all started with some bedbugs. Susannah was a girl in her twenties working for The Washington Post. She started acting very peculiar... paranoid about her boyfriend, trouble focusing, extremely forgetful, and much more. She struggled to complete every day activities. After having a seizure in her apartment she was rushed to the hospital. Doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong but she slowly went mad. Susannah had fits of rage and hallucinations. The situation seemed to get worse and worse by the day. Eventually one simple drawing revealed what was really going on within her head. It seemed as if her immune system was attacking her brain. After countless surgeries and medications they found the right balance of steroids to return Susannah to a normal state.


  • Susannah Calahlan
  • Dr. Najjar
  • Stephen
  • Angela
  • Susannah's Father
  • Susannah's Mother
  • Giselle(Susannah's Step-Mom)
  • Allen(Susannah's Step-Father)
  • Lindsey
  • Hannah


The majority of the book takes place in the NYU Medical Center. This hospital is extremely important. This is because when she is in the hospital is when the disease was at its worst. Also because they had all the discoveries with her disease in the center. An example of this is when the clock test was done "This was finally the clue that everyone was searching for" (pg.132). The text shows how the major discovery of the disease was done in the hospital.


The main conflict of the book is Sussanah VS Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. She fights the disease as it is changing her way of thinking. It is a tough battle; throughout her "Month of madness" she has smaller conflicts such as fighting the nurses, her parents, and her hallucinations.

Author's Purpose

Susannah's purpose for writing about her story was to inform the readers about Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. She felt the need to do this because this disease is newly discovered. Now the readers can know about it and might be able to spot the symptoms. Susannah learns multiple lessons throughout the memoir. One of them was that things will get better. Her catch phrase with her father is "What is the slope of the line? Positive." (pg. 139).

Ted Talk by Susannah Cahalan


I would give Brain On Fire three and a half stars out of five. The plot was written very well. The description of how Susannah started to change was conveyed through the text nicely. On the other hand, it could be a little confusing at times because she used a lot of medical terms and didn't really explain what they meant. Overall I enjoyed most aspects of the book and would recommend.


Created with images by Pexels - "fire flame flames"

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.