Susannah Cahalan is an acclaimed journalist and #1 New York Times best-selling author of Brain On Fire: My Month of Madness and The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness. Her 2012 memoir Brain on Fire, which has sold over a million copies and was made into a Netflix original movie, one of its most-watched movies of 2016, chronicled her medical misdiagnosis and brief interface with the broken mental health system in America. Cahalan published her second book The Great Pretender, which investigated the famous 1973 study “On Being Sane in Insane Places” by Stanford professor David Rosenhan, breaking news about the study and changing the way it is taught in classrooms around the world.
She has appeared on most top national news programs, including Today, Fresh Air, All Things Considered, and PBS’s NOVA. She lectures at universities around the world—from Oxford University to UCLA to Columbia University—and regularly appears as a keynote speaker at conferences. In addition, she has been awarded several academic fellowships, most recently Yale University’s 2021 Poynter Fellowship in Journalism, Weill Cornell’s 2020 Richardson Seminar in the History of Psychiatry, and Columbia University’s 2020 Spitzer Memorial Lecture. In 2022, she was honored with the prestigious American Brain Foundation Ambassador Award for her advocacy work elevating public awareness of neuroinflammation, brain disease, the need for research, and the patient experience. She currently works as an adjunct lecturer at New York University on narratives in mental health care. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, dog, and two-year-old twins.
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