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A month lost

Devon Murphy-Petersen devonm@waukee.lib.ia.us
Devon Murphy-Petersen devonm@waukee.lib.ia.us

I just finished listening to an interesting memoir, “Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness” by Susannah Cahalan. One day Cahalan woke up in restraints in a hospital room, unable to move, speak, or remember how she had gotten there. Luckily, her parents and her boyfriend had not given up on her as she had moved from hallucinations to violence to psychosis to catatonia. They had repeatedly insisted doctors find a medical explanation for her condition. An extraordinary doctor diagnosed her with a newly discovered autoimmune disorder and began an aggressive course of treatment that would save her life. Just weeks before, Cahalan had been a healthy, ambitious twenty-four year old reporter for the New York Post, living on her own in New York. As she recovered, she used her reporting skills, medical records, interviews with family and friends, and her father’s journal to piece together the story of her lost month and wrote this eye-opening account of the progression of her illness, her treatment, and eventual recovery. This memoir was engrossing and more than a bit disturbing, considering Cahalan’s swift slide into madness and the loss of her memory and identity in the process.

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