My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Imagine what it would be like if your brain suddenly stopped letting you be who you’ve always been, started causing you to have strange and erratic behavior. This is exactly what Susannah Cahalan experienced when her brain was attacked by her own immune system, an autoimmune disease called
NMDA-receptor autoimmune encephalitis. This is a rare disease that is often misdiagnosed as mental illness.
Between these pages Ms. Cahalan dives deep to expose the time she spent in the hospital, much of which she has no memory of. She has filled the gaps by using the notes of her parents and by interviewing many of the people involved in her diagnoses and recovery. What she discovers is a personality change that is extremely drastic, and exposes just how much of who we are depends on the condition of our brain. This type of finding really exposes the mind-body issue and indirectly points to mind being created by the brain. It also shows how this physical disease has so often been confused with psychiatric issues, leaving many patients without a proper diagnoses or care. The good news is that Susannah Cahalan’s case, as well as the writing of this book afterwards, has done much to expose this disease and help others get the proper care they need.
If you enjoy a good medical mystery, or are simply fascinated by the brain and its functionality, then this is a solid read. It’s well written, can be read quickly, and is very hard to put down.