Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness


Susannah Cahalan

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Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness: Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Dr. Russo, an attending neurologist, arrives in the morning to conduct a neurological exam. Susannah attempts to interrupt by insisting that "the people on TV" are saying bad things about her. She becomes increasingly agitated and finally leaps off the bed and tries to escape again, screaming at the other nurses in the room. Dr. Russo prescribes another antipsychotic and diagnoses Susannah with postictal psychosis, or psychotic behavior following seizures. Later in the day, Dr. Siegel arrives to examine Susannah. Susannah explains that Dr. Siegel is very charismatic and makes a particularly positive impression on Mom. He assures Mom that Susannah will be fine, and Mom nicknames him "Bugsy."
Dr. Russo's diagnosis represents an attempt to bridge the gap between neurology (the actual physicality of the brain) and psychology, as it recognizes that these kinds of psychotic behaviors can indeed be caused by something physically wrong or damaged in the brain. Mom's affinity for Dr. Siegel shows that she and Dad are in desperate need of support themselves as they attempt to support Susannah. This isn't a battle they can fight alone.
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