Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

by

Susannah Cahalan

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Dr. Najjar Character Analysis

Dr. Najjar is a neurologist working at the NYU hospital. His personal background is a success story—as a child in Syria, he'd been unsuccessful in a private Catholic school, but when his father moved him to public school, a teacher took Najjar under her wing and Najjar began earning straight A's. He went on to study medicine and graduated at the top of his class. Because of his own experiences, Dr. Najjar feels compelled to help those in need, especially when others have given up on them. Dr. Siegel passes Susannah's case onto Dr. Najjar when her ailment proves to be a mystery. Dr. Najjar is the first to suspect that Susannah has anti-NMDA receptor autoimmune encephalitis. When he first meets with Susannah and her parents, he speaks to Susannah directly and promises to help her. After Susannah's article about her time in the hospital runs in the New York Post, the article is translated into Arabic and runs in several Syrian newspapers. Dr. Najjar's father cries with pride, and a Syrian ambassador to the UN thanks Dr. Najjar personally for his contribution to medicine. He's later named on of the top neurologists in the US.

Dr. Najjar Quotes in Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

The Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness quotes below are all either spoken by Dr. Najjar or refer to Dr. Najjar. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon and Schuster edition of Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness published in 2012.
Chapter 46 Quotes

"He's talking about my brain," I whispered, although I didn't understand then what these slides portrayed. All I knew was that a very intimate part of myself was on display in front of a hundred strangers. How many people can say that they've allowed others to literally see inside their heads?

Related Characters: Susannah (speaker), Dr. Najjar
Page Number: 219
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 47 Quotes

What I was almost immediately drawn to is perhaps the biggest mystery: How many people throughout history suffered from my disease and others like it but went untreated?

Related Characters: Susannah (speaker), Dr. Najjar, Dr. Josep Dalmau
Page Number: 221
Explanation and Analysis:
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Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness PDF

Dr. Najjar Character Timeline in Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

The timeline below shows where the character Dr. Najjar appears in Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 23
Responsibility and the Medical System Theme Icon
Later, when Dr. Russo comes in, she tells Mom that she and Dr. Najjar would like to do a second spinal tap. She explains that Dr. Najjar is a... (full context)
Chapter 26
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
Responsibility and the Medical System Theme Icon
A few days later, Dr. Najjar is finally scheduled to arrive. Susannah drools and smacks her lips, habits that are now... (full context)
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
Storytelling, Memory, and Emotion Theme Icon
Responsibility and the Medical System Theme Icon
Susannah explains to the reader that Dr. Najjar is personal and heartfelt, and he loves to help the weak and powerless. This is... (full context)
Responsibility and the Medical System Theme Icon
Dr. Najjar asks Susannah for her name, the date, and the president, which she can answer with... (full context)
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
Storytelling, Memory, and Emotion Theme Icon
Responsibility and the Medical System Theme Icon
...numbness on one side of her body as well as the paranoia, seizures, and hallucinations. Dr. Najjar figures that the inflammation is likely the cause of an autoimmune reaction and remembers a... (full context)
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Responsibility and the Medical System Theme Icon
Dr. Najjar paces as he thinks all this through and then sits down next to Susannah. He... (full context)
Chapter 27
Storytelling, Memory, and Emotion Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Responsibility and the Medical System Theme Icon
Dr. Najjar tells Mom and Dad that he'd like to start Susannah on steroids, and mentions a... (full context)
Chapter 28
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
Responsibility and the Medical System Theme Icon
...is allowing certain blood cells to enter the brain, and those cells are attacking it. Dr. Najjar prescribes a heavy dose of IV steroids to decrease the inflammation and then prescribes prednisone,... (full context)
Chapter 29
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
Storytelling, Memory, and Emotion Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Responsibility and the Medical System Theme Icon
...her into the hallway and asks her personal opinion. Dr. Russo explains that she and Dr. Najjar have a bet: he thinks it's autoimmune encephalitis; she thinks it's paraneoplastic syndrome, which happens... (full context)
Chapter 32
Storytelling, Memory, and Emotion Theme Icon
Responsibility and the Medical System Theme Icon
The next morning, Dr. Najjar arrives to explain the treatment plan to Susannah and her parents. He decides to use... (full context)
Storytelling, Memory, and Emotion Theme Icon
Responsibility and the Medical System Theme Icon
...the reader that despite the 4% chance that she'll die, her parents are hopeful that Dr. Najjar 's plan will work. In addition to the three-pronged treatment, Susannah will see Dr. Najjar... (full context)
Chapter 39
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
Storytelling, Memory, and Emotion Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Responsibility and the Medical System Theme Icon
Every two weeks, Mom, Dad, and Susannah have an appointment with Dr. Najjar . He and Dr. Arslan slowly reduce Susannah's doses of medication and ask Susannah how... (full context)
Chapter 40
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
Storytelling, Memory, and Emotion Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
In late May, Dr. Najjar asks Susannah to return to the hospital for a week for another round of IVIG... (full context)
Chapter 44
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
Dr. Najjar finally is able to prescribe at-home IVIG treatments every other week, and Susannah has twelve... (full context)
Chapter 45
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
Storytelling, Memory, and Emotion Theme Icon
Right after her return to work, Dr. Najjar finally gives Susannah permission to color her hair. The stylist dyes Susannah's hair blond and... (full context)
Chapter 46
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
Storytelling, Memory, and Emotion Theme Icon
Responsibility and the Medical System Theme Icon
In late September, one of Dr. Najjar 's assistants invites Mom and Susannah to attend Dr. Najjar's lecture on anti-NMDA receptor autoimmune... (full context)
Chapter 47
Responsibility and the Medical System Theme Icon
Susannah interviews Stephen, her family, Dr. Dalmau, and Dr. Najjar about her disease. What strikes her immediately is the biggest mystery of her disease: how... (full context)
Responsibility and the Medical System Theme Icon
...are pushing for studies that allow a more holistic look at the body and brain. Dr. Najjar takes this a step further. He suggests that some forms of mental illness are actually... (full context)
Chapter 49
Identity and Illness Theme Icon
Storytelling, Memory, and Emotion Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Responsibility and the Medical System Theme Icon
Susannah's article changes Dr. Najjar 's life as well. He invites Susannah to visit not long after the article runs.... (full context)
Afterword
Responsibility and the Medical System Theme Icon
A year later, Susannah returns to NYU to visit one of Dr. Najjar 's patients struggling with the same disease. Susannah recognizes herself in the patient's rigid, thin... (full context)