Susannah Cahalan was possessed. A totally normal, healthy woman, one day she just began acting erratically.
Her behavior became so strange that she had to be hospitalized. Doctors believed it was some kind of psychotic break.
“One minute I’d be sobbing, crying hysterically, and the next minute I’d be laughing,” Susannah told CBS. “I had bizarre, abnormal movements; would leave my arms out, extended, you know, in front of me. I was a relatively normal person, then the next minute I’m hallucinating and insisting that my father had kidnapped me.”
She began punching and kicking the nurses. She had seizures. She believed the hospital staff were transforming into other people to play tricks on her.
Doctors said her “brain was on fire.” No one knew what to do. They had seen rare cases like this — young women suddenly behaving strangely.
It took one very smart doctor, Dr. Souhel Najjar, to really get to the bottom of this. He told Susannah to draw a clock.
When Susannah drew the clock, all of the numbers were on one side, which meant that only one side of her brain was being affected. This proved that the issue wasn’t psychological, but neurological, which in turn meant it was a physical ailment that could be treated.
Susannah had an autoimmune disease called anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. This caused antibodies to attack the brain, causing it to become swollen. Thankfully, Dr. Najjar was able to treat disease, and she made a full recovery.
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