In her non-fictional account, journalist Susannah Cahalan aptly describes how she suddenly developed behaviors that to all appearances were psychotic and demonic.
She sat up in bed one night foaming at the mouth spewing blood while her arms stretched out before her “mummy” style. Her teeth clenched while her body alternately trembled and stiffened. Her boyfriend witnessed her “terrifying zombie moves” and others witnessed her subsequent paranoia, out of body experiences and other surprising attacks that you must read about for yourself. Cahalan’s symptoms and behaviors can be found in historical documents thousands of years old. In some cases sufferers were deemed possessed by the devil and submitted to exorcism and the most extreme treatments. These behaviors have been the cause of countless life sentences into mental institutions throughout history.
In Cahalan’s case, doctors submitted very easy diagnoses at first such as stress, alcoholism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and there were even links to autism. Her parents refused to be brushed aside and continued to hound the medical community for real answers. I do not want to give away the outcome, but after a slew of neurologists, psychiatrists, endocrinologists and other specialized physicians, as well as very expensive testing and a month long hospital stay, Cahalan becomes the 217th person diagnosed with this particular disorder.
Since her 2009 diagnosis, there has been a dramatic breakthrough which has saved thousands more from death and from possible misguided treatment and experimental drugs. This does not help the thousands of victims who were feared and mistreated for exhibiting the same behaviors, but moving forward, others will be helped. Some of her doctors are currently making advances in the intermingling of psychiatry, neurology and immunology that could revolutionize these fields. If you are interested in the brain and medical science, then I recommend this book as it is a fascinating and quick read that almost seems like a suspense and mystery novel.