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10 Best Quotes From "Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness" by Susannah Cahalan



"Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness" by Susannah Cahalan 

An award-winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller that goes far beyond its riveting medical mystery, Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman’s struggle to recapture her identity.

When twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she’d gotten there. Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper. Now she was labeled violent, psychotic, a flight risk. What happened?

In a swift and breathtaking narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing true story of her descent into madness, her family’s inspiring faith in her, and the lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen. “A fascinating look at the disease that . . . could have cost this vibrant, vital young woman her life” (People), Brain on Fire is an unforgettable exploration of memory and identity, faith and love, and a profoundly compelling tale of survival and perseverance that is destined to become a classic.


  1. “Sometimes, just when we need them, life wraps metaphors up in little bows for us. When you think all is lost, the things you need the most return unexpectedly.”

  2. “Friedrich Nietzsche said: ‘The existence of forgetting has never been proved: we only know that some things do not come to our mind when we want them to.’”

  3. “We are, in the end, a sum of our parts, and when the body fails, all the virtues we hold dear go with it.”

  4. “’No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness,’ Aristotle said.”

  5. “Dr. Najjar, for one, is taking the link between autoimmune diseases and mental illnesses one step further: through his cutting-edge research, he posits that some forms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression are actually caused by inflammatory conditions in the brain.”

  6. “To move forward, you have to leave the past behind”

  7. “I had asked him many times why he stayed, and he always said the same thing: ‘Because I love you, and I wanted to, and I knew you were in there.’ No matter how damaged I had been, he had loved me enough to still see me somewhere inside.”

  8. “Maybe it’s true what Thomas Moore said: ‘It is only through mystery and madness that the soul is revealed.’”

  9. “The brain is a monstrous, beautiful mess.”

  10. “What else had I forgotten? What else would come back, knocking me off balance and reminding me how tenuous my grip on reality was?”