Is Brain on Fire True Story? Brain on Fire Ending Explained Plot, Cast, and More

[Link View]: Is Brain on Fire True Story? Brain on Fire Ending Explained Plot, Cast, and More

Brain on Fire Film

Brain on Fire is a biographical drama film released in 2016, directed and written by Irish filmmaker Gerard Barrett. It is based on the memoir “Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness” by Susannah Cahalan. The movie stars Chloë Grace Moretz, Jenny Slate, Thomas Mann, Tyler Perry, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Richard Armitage.

The film tells the true story of a New York Post writer who suddenly experiences a mysterious illness. Despite undergoing multiple evaluations from different doctors, she is misdiagnosed as psychotic. Her condition worsens, and she faces the possibility of being committed to a psychiatric ward in the hospital, where she could die from encephalitis. However, Syrian-American neurologist Souhel Najjar steps in, showing empathy and expertise in her case. He accurately diagnoses her with a rare illness and successfully treats her.

Principal photography for the movie began on July 13, 2015, in Vancouver, British Columbia. Brain on Fire had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 14, 2016, and later was released on Netflix on June 22, 2018.

Is Brain on Fire True Story?

Yes, Brain on Fire is a True Story. The movie Brain on Fire is based on the true story of Susanna Cahalan, a journalist at the New York Post. The film portrays her journey through a harrowing experience marked by psychotic symptoms, which were caused by an often undiagnosed autoimmune condition.

Initially, her symptoms were subtle and included perceptual disturbances, fatigue, depressed mood, and withdrawal. As time passed, her condition worsened, leading to pronounced paranoia and unpredictable mood swings. This made her presentation complex, as her symptoms could have been classified as either a psychotic disorder or a mood disorder.

As her condition progressed, she started experiencing seizure episodes, indicating a potential neurological issue. However, medical professionals dismissed these signs due to a lack of clear evidence from radiographic and electroencephalographic tests. The movie vividly depicts Susanna’s struggle and the challenges she faced while trying to find a proper diagnosis and treatment for her mysterious illness.


Brain on Fire Plot

Twenty-one-year-old Susannah Cahalan, a writer for The New York Post, starts experiencing strange symptoms like cough and fatigue, followed by unusual behaviors and hallucinations. Her condition worsens, and she has seizures, but doctors initially attribute it to stress and partying. Susannah’s behavior becomes erratic, and she is suspected of having bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Eventually, she becomes catatonic, and Dr. Souhel Najjar identifies her rare condition as anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, a brain inflammation. With treatment, she gradually recovers her cognitive abilities. Susannah returns to work, writes a memoir called “Brain on Fire,” and raises awareness about her disease, leading to more people getting diagnosed and treated for the same condition. She and Dr. Najjar become close friends.

Brain on Fire Cast 

Here is the list of Cast and Character names of Brain on Fire.

Cast Name

Character Name

Chloë Grace Moretz

Susannah Cahalan

Jenny Slate

Margo (Friend and co-worker)

Thomas Mann

Stephen (Cahalan’s boyfriend)

Tyler Perry

Richard (Cahalan’s boss)

Carrie-Anne Moss

Rhona Nack (Cahalan’s mother)

Richard Armitage

Tom Cahalan (Cahalan’s father)

Navid Negahban

Dr. Souhel Najjar

Alex Zahara


Jenn MacLean-Angus


Brain on Fire Movie Ending Explained

Susannah Cahalan, the real-life protagonist of this story, became the 217th individual to receive a diagnosis of anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. Her remarkable memoir has had a profound impact globally, as it has helped countless people get diagnosed and treated for this condition ever since its publication.

Thousands of individuals have found answers and received appropriate medical attention due to the awareness generated by her courageous journey. In the aftermath of her life-altering experience, Susannah Cahalan and Dr. Najjar, her neurologist, have developed a deep and enduring friendship.

Their bond continues to thrive as they stay connected, united by the incredible journey they embarked on together to confront and overcome this challenging and rare autoimmune disorder. Their story serves as a powerful testament to the strength of the human spirit and the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity.

Brain on Fire Netflix

Brain on Fire is a gripping and thought-provoking movie available on Netflix. Based on the true story and memoir by Susannah Cahalan, this film takes viewers on an emotional rollercoaster as it delves into the harrowing journey of a young woman’s mysterious illness.

You can stream the movie on Netflix with an active subscription or get a subscription and watch the movie.  

Brain on Fire Trailer

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