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Is Brain On Fire Based On A True Story

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Disease Presentation And Misdiagnoses

Brain On Fire (2016) Ending Explained In Hindi | Based on a true story | Movie Explanations In Hindi

Susannahs disease manifested in 2009 when she was just 24 years old. It began with sensory issues which she described in her article, “My Mysterious Lost Month of Madness“, as experiencing the world brighter, louder, more painful. She also began experiencing numbness in the whole left side of her body, and paranoid hallucinations of bed bug bites. Concerned by the numbness, Cahalan sought out a neurologist who ran multiple inconclusive tests including two normal MRIs. Susannah began experiencing severe insomnia and continued behavioral abnormalities. One night at her boyfriends apartment, she had a grand mal seizure and woke up in St. Lukes Hospital. Cahalan describes the hospital neurologist as dismissive, and she received her first of multiple misdiagnoses: alcohol withdrawal. Psychiatrists also misdiagnosed her with schizophrenia and bipolar I disorder.Cahalan was released from the hospital and as her disease worsened, she had another grand mal seizure.

Stream The Film On Netflix

Originally published May 22, 2020

Kimberly Nicoletti is a freelance journalist, editor and writing coach based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. She has been published in Natural Health magazine, Fitness Republic,, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Dallas AM News, Minnesota Magazine, The Denver Post and a variety of regional magazines including Aspen Philanthropist, Aspen Times Weekly, Vail Valley, Vail Health, Mountain Gazette, CO Yoga + Life and Spoke + Blossom. She has been the managing editor of several magazines, most currently in Snowmass, CO. She has a masters in somatic psychology and loves writing about health, people, travel and anything related to living a creative, authentic life.

Symptoms Of Anti Nmda Receptor Encephalitis

The symptoms of Anti NMDA Receptor Encephalitis occur in phases that may begin as a normal headache and rapidly modify into neuropsychiatric issues within the weeks. The signs are entirely based on the acuteness of the disease.

Various acute symptoms encountered by the patients of this ailment are described below:

  • Cognitive Impairments like confusion, lack of concentration, difficulty in perceiving and comprehending thoughts, decreased level of consciousness, etc.
  • Behavioural Changes like mood swings, disorganized thoughts, hallucination, paranoia, hearing voices, etc.
  • Seizures
  • Movement Disorders like Tardive dyskinesia
  • Autonomic Instability
  • Comatose

Atypical symptoms commonly found in children are as follows:

  • Cerebellar ataxia
  • Hemiparesis

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Brain On Fire Lacking The Spark

Written by Stacy Rohan on October 14, 2018. Posted in Arts & Entertainment

Netflix original, Brain On Fire, hardly lives up to the immense potential that lies within the real-life events which first inspired this story.

Copyright-free image from Google with edits by Stacy Rohan


Brain On Fire is based on a true story that was first written in a novel by Susannah Cahalan and originally published in 2012, before its Netflix release.

Perhaps my interpretation of the movies description is off base or perhaps the 13 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes is simply accurate but the storyline seemed a bit anticlimactic.

Main character, Susannah , experiences gradual symptoms at the start of the film, beginning with seizures and hearing strange voices in her head. But within weeks, Susannah cycles through stages of violence, insanity and eventually catatonia.

The Netflix summary of Brain on Fire appeals to those who take interest in dark, dramatic movies, but as summaries often do, this written sneak-peak of the film fails to give a completely accurate synopsis.

One review, posted on, described the storys execution as a little too flat in the delivery, and Im not sure I could have said it better myself.

Cahalan and her family faced loss and hopelessness, until one special doctor, who greatly pursued Cahalans case, found her diagnosis and announced that her brain was quite literally on fire.

Talk To Your Kids About

Brain on Fire
  • Families can talk about the differences between telling a true story in documentary form and telling that story in a fictionalized version with actors and scripted dialogue. Which are you most likely to watch? Why? Do you think fictionalizing a true story invites a wider audience?

  • In making a fictional film based on a true story like Brain on Fire, there are always some liberties that must be taken. For example, no one has written down dialogue from a scene that actually took place it has to be re-created. How much license are you comfortable with? Where might you go to get more detailed true information?

  • Susannah Cahalan wrote a book about her illness, so if you were aware that it was a true story, you knew that it would end well. Does knowing how a film will resolve spoil the experience of viewing it? What makes a film “journey” enjoyable despite its predictability?

  • What character strengths did Susannah exhibit in this film? Her parents? Stephen? Why were these qualities essential for Susannah’s recovery?

  • MPAA explanation: thematic elements, brief language, and partial nudity
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‘brain On Fire’ Brings Attention To Rare Maddening Mystery Illness

May 22, 2020

Have you ever been trapped, lost in your own body, lost in your own mind, lost in time, so desperate to escape, to just get out?

Susannah Cahalan has been through that, and worse.

In 2009, the young journalist abruptly transformed from an up-and-coming writer at the New York Post to a raving lunatic. She heard voices. She walked in front of a cab. She raged. She needed help blowing out her birthday candles.

Brain on Fire, based on a true story, follows Cahalan’s painful decline from optimistic, talented writer to confused, catatonic patient.

At times, watching actress Chloë Grace Moretz rub her temples with bewildered eyes can be a bit repetitive. However, the 95-minute movie depicting Cahalans month-long demise is very engrossing.

After all, how many stories show doctors diagnosing someone with a psychiatric disorder like schizophrenia, when, in reality, the patient is dying from a rare neurological disease?

Before Cahalans book, Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, came out in 2012, hardly anyone had heard of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis.The disease occurs when the bodys immune system attacks NMDA receptors, or proteins, which control electrical impulses in the brain.

When NMDA receptors are damaged, judgment, memory, personal interaction, perception and autonomic functions like swallowing and breathing become compromised. And so it was for Cahalan.

People begin to wonder if shes drinking too much or on drugs certainly, she looks hungover.

In ‘brain On Fire’ The Spark Isn’t There

Chloë Grace Moretz and Thomas Mann


Its a shame when a movie adaptation based on a true story fails to capture what made the story worth adapting in the first place. Brain on Fire, writer-director Gerard Barretts Netflix adaptation of Susannah Cahalans bestselling memoir of the same name, stars Chloë Grace Moretz as Susannah, a young New York Post reporter who starts suffering from an unknown illness. Her condition deteriorates, jeopardizing her career and putting strain on her relationships. The film wants to be an inspirational tale of perseverance and overcoming the odds. Unfortunately, it falls quite short.

Brain on Fires main strength is how unflinchingly it depicts mental collapse. Susannah first shows signs of a health problem at the five-minute mark. Her family members gather around her to sing Happy Birthday and their voices slowly fade out into a low rumble. Later she begins to hallucinate, first seeing spots on her arm, then hearing the kitchen faucet drip. Her impulse control starts to weaken, and before long shes hurling insults at her boyfriend, her parents and her interview subjects. Warped noises and skewed visuals come more often and more intensely, affecting the audiences viewing experience as much as the protagonists mind. Barrett relies on a variety of claustrophobic shots, many of them close-ups on Moretzs face.

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An Important Film On Mental Health Let Down By A Poor Third Act

Based on a true story, Brain On Fire is a melodramatic, devastating look at mental health and our attitude toward it. While the themes explored are certainly important and raise some very real questions around diagnoses and our attitude toward psychiatric conditions, the film itself brushes over a lot of the treatment and recovery of the disease, opting instead to gloss over most of the intricate drama with elevated voices and a hurried ending. While Susannahs descent is well acted for the most part, using some interesting audio and visual tricks along the way, the final parts of her regression lack the subtlety needed to really pull this off making for a disappointing end to an otherwise enjoyable film.

The story follows Susannah , a promising up and coming writer at The New York Post who inexplicably begins experiencing erratic behaviour seizures, mood swings and wild bouts of memory loss become an every day occurrence that ultimately becoming life threatening. Between her friends, family and numerous doctors, no one seems to believe Susannah, brushing off her mental health as fatigue, over-drinking or stress. As she continues to get worse and become more unstable, the family reach breaking point before being introduced to Dr. Najjar who vows to do everything in his power to find out whats happening to Susannah before its too late.

  • Verdict – 6/106/10

Is It Any Good

Brain on Fire | මà·à·à¶ºà·à¶±à· නà·?à¶à·à¶± à¶à·à¶±à·à¶±.! | Full movie Review in Sinhala | Based on True Story.

Kudos to the real-life Susannah Cahalan and the creative team for bringing a little-known but harrowing medical condition to light, but the movie as a dramatic film simply doesn’t stand up. A good portion of Brain on Fire is devoted to Susannah’s behavior and growing anguish as her rare brain disorder takes hold. It really happened. But watching sequence after sequence of an assault on her mind by sounds, voices, and increasingly erratic behavior in the workplace and at home becomes repetitious, and even the chilling seizures lose their impact. Chloe Grace Moretz does the best she can with this grown-up role after a series of resounding successes as a child and teen actress. Supporting players are fine but are given little to play beyond the situation at hand. Still, if the final words that appear on screen are true, Cahalan’s memoir has had a major impact on diagnoses of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, and that’s a remarkable outcome.

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Brain On Fire Film Helps Patient Receive Diagnosis

Imagine being a college student involved with multiple extracurricular activities, rigorous studying and more and having everything turned upside down in a matter of months.

Kassidy Anderson knows exactly what that feels like.

Anderson, a native of Buckatunna, Mississippi, is a senior at William Carey University. In winter 2017, she began to experience severe headaches and memory issues and saw flashes of light.

Kassidy AndersonI thought it was probably a torn retina, she said.

Her symptoms became significantly worse. Anderson says she would space out nearly 60 times a day, claiming she felt as though she were floating. However, she kept things to herself.

I didnt want anyone to freak out, Anderson said. I just dealt with it for a while. I didnt even tell my mom. The thing about this was that I could pull myself together for about 20 minutes a day. Just 20 minutes. I didnt want people to think something was wrong with me.

I felt like I was going to die if I didnt get any help, she said. I couldnt breathe, and my doctors thought I might have severe anxiety. I felt like a stranger in my own body.

It was there where something happened that she did not expect Vaphiades listened.

The condition was depicted in the 2016 Netflix film Brain on Fire, a film that Vaphiades and a colleague had recently been discussing. After he told her about the movie, the symptoms experienced by the main character in the movie sounded eerily similar to what Anderson had.

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The Writing Of Brain On Fire: My Month Of Madness

As Susannah was a journalist for the New York Post before she became ill, her editor suggested that she write about her disease and how it impacted her. As she recovered from her brain illness, she decided to bring the same journalistic approach to writing her memoir, using fact and research as the foundation for her story. According to Cahalan, it was a “very dissociative process” to write about her experience with the disease. She had to recreate the time-line of everything that happened, gathering different records from the hospital to keep track of what happened and when. Through interviewing those closest to her, she was able to piece together what that month looked like. Overwhelmingly, what she remembered from her disease was the fear and anger that it created within her. Writing her book, she said, felt like regaining control over the body that controlled her for so long.

Book About David Rosenhan

Chloe Moretz in New Netflix Trailer for Medical Drama ...

In 2019, Cahalan’s second book was published, The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness. In the work she accuses psychologist David Rosenhan of fabricating the results of seminal research published in the journal Science. Rosenhan’s work demonstrated that staff working at psychiatric hospitals, including psychiatrists, could be easily misled to diagnose schizophrenia when individuals were perfectly sane and reported the mistreatment of patients in these facilities. Cahalan was drawn to this study due to her own experiences with being improperly diagnosed with mental illness, but as she researched Rosenhan and his activity, she began to find contradictions in his work that made her question the validity of his experiment.

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What Happened In Brain On Fire: My Month Of Madness

After twenty-eight days in the hospital, Susannah is discharged. Shell need an at-home nurse biweekly visits to the hospital to flush out the antibodies with a plasma exchange a full-body 3-D scan and full-time rehab.

Still vastly divorced from her old self, Susannah has little self-awareness when shes released from the hospital. She makes significant progress over the next few months, but in her own mind, shes uncertain about herself. For Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, she had to research herself.

Experts are called in to do an assessment. It reveals a divide between Susannahs internal world and the world around her. Social situations are especially difficult because shes aware of how strange she appears to the people around her. Susannah often feels that her true self is trying to connect with the world outside but cant break past her body. She worries that shes become boringthe most difficult adjustment to a new self she has to make.

Susannahs old self finally reawakens. She begins reading again and starts keeping a diary. This was the start of Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. Her father encourages her to draw upon her memory, but she can recall only numbness, sleepiness, and three seizures. She remembers nothing from her time in the hospital.

Susannah regains former functions and personality traits. She summarizes her experience for Paul, her mentor at the Post, and he certifies that her writing skills have returned.

Her Illness Was Misdiagnosed As Madness Now Susannah Cahalan Takes On Madness In Medicine

The Great Pretender, the new book by the author of Brain on Fire, is another medical detective story, but this time the person at the heart of the mystery is a doctor, not a patient.

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By Emily Eakin

Ten years ago, Susannah Cahalan was hospitalized with mysterious and terrifying symptoms. She believed an army of bedbugs had invaded her apartment. She believed her father had tried to abduct her and kill his wife, her stepmother. She believed she could age people using just her mind. She couldnt eat or sleep. She spoke in gibberish and slipped into a catatonic state.

Had it not been for an ingenious doctor brought in to consult on her case, Cahalan might well have ended up in a psychiatric ward. Instead, as she recounted in Brain on Fire, her best-selling 2012 memoir about her ordeal, she was eventually found to have a rare or at least newly discovered neurological disease: anti-NMDA-receptor autoimmune encephalitis. In plain English, Cahalans body was attacking her brain. She was only the 217th person in the world to be diagnosed with the disorder and among the first to receive the concoction of steroids, immunoglobulin infusions and plasmapheresis she credits for her recovery.

The study made Rosenhan an academic celebrity. Nearly 50 years later, it remains one of the most cited papers in social science.

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