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Brain on Fire

Film lovers in The Philippines will be in for a treat when Brain on Fire opens in cinemas on Wednesday, February 22 - (fittingly) - World Encephalitis Day!

As of yet, there is no information about release dates for the film elsewhere across the world. We will keep you posted when we find out more information.

In the meantime, we hope you can enjoy the trailer! 

The Toronto International Film Festival welcomed the big screen premiere of Susannah Cahalan's excellent memoir Brain on Fire on September 16.

The film – like the book - follows the New York Post journalist as she is affected by a mysterious illness and undergoes a nightmarish journey which sees her repeatedly misdiagnosed when she begins to have seizures and hearing voices.

Acclaimed actress Chloe Grace Moretz will star as Susannah in the film and has support from an all-star cast.


Since the book’s release, we have championed Brain on Fire, recommending it to anyone - from patients and family members, through to health professionals - as an excellent way of understanding the impact that Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis can have on individuals and their loved ones.

Susannah, meanwhile, is a fantastic and popular Ambassador for The Society, helping to champion our work and support our Members wherever she can.

Naturally, we are very excited to welcome the film version of Brain on Fire and want you encourage your friends, work colleagues, family members – everyone you know – to go and see it upon its theatrical release.

We are extremely confident that it will raise a huge amount of awareness about encephalitis and we wish its director cast the best of luck!

Brain on Fire will star Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick Ass) with high-profile support coming from Richard Armitage (The Hobbit), Tyler Perry (Gone Girl), Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix) and Thomas Mann (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl).

It is directed by Gerard Barrett who was born in Ireland and whose films include Pilgrim Hill, which won him the IFTA Rising Star Award, and Glassland.

Phillippa Chapman, our Director of Operations, was invited to view the film and, alongside Dr Ava Easton, the Chief Executive of The Encephalitis Society, has written a review for The Lancet Neurology.

We will also keep Members informed about the film through regular updates on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. 

We also have the press conference with its stars and director for you to enjoy (see below)  

Theatrical release dates for the film have yet to be announced.

Read on for more information about the book, the film, Susannah’s role with The Encephalitis Society and more about Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis.

We also have copies of Brain on Fire on sale and information about how you can get involved with The Encephalitis Society and help to raise awareness of this devastating condition.

Toronto International Film Festival highlights

Watch the Press Conference
Brain on Fire - The Book

Brain on Fire was released in 2012 and became a New York Times bestselling book - earning much praise from critics and readers alike.

Visit Susannah's WEBSITE

Buy your copy of Brain on Fire HERE.

Author Susannah Cahalan in her own words:

One day, I woke up in a strange hospital room, strapped to my bed, under guard, and unable to move or speak. My medical records—from a month-long hospital stay of which I have no memory—showed psychosis, violence, and dangerous instability. Yet, only weeks earlier I had been a healthy twenty-four year old, six months into my first serious relationship and beginning a career as a cub reporter at the New York Post.

My memoir Brain on Fire chronicles the swift path of my illness and the lucky, last-minute intervention led by one of the few doctors capable of saving my life. As weeks ticked by and I moved inexplicably from violence to catatonia, $1 million worth of blood tests and brain scans revealed nothing. The exhausted doctors were ready to commit me to the psychiatric ward, in effect condemning me to a lifetime of institutions, or death, until Dr. Souhel Najjar—nicknamed Dr. House—joined my team. He asked me to draw one simple sketch, which became key to diagnosing me with a newly discovered autoimmune disease in which my body was attacking my brain, an illness now thought to be the cause of “demonic possessions” throughout history.

Brain on Fire Review - The Lancet Neurology

Dr Ava Easton, the Chief Executive of The Encephalitis Society, and Phillippa Chapman, the Director of Operations have written a review for The Lancet Neurology.

Fact Sheet - Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis

Click HERE for a fact sheet on Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis by Dr Sarosh Irani and Professor Angela Vincent.

How to Get Involved

Become a Member of The Encephalitis Society

Membership is FREE and open to individuals and healthcare professionals from around the world. Click HERE to apply.

Follow us and join in the discussion on social media.

By being active on social media - you can help RAISE AWARENESS of encephalitis among your friends and family and the general public. Together we can put out a stronger message and educate the world!


Twitter - Use the hashtags #BrainOnFire and #encephalitis


Susannah Cahalan on Twitter and her Website

Make the Brain on Fire cocktail

Try your hand at mixology by making our Brain on Fire cocktail - and then why don't you post a picture of you and your cocktail and send it to us on our Twitter, Facebook or Instagram accounts, using the hashtags #BrainOnFire and #Cocktail 

Brain on Fire - The Cocktail

Why not raise a glass to Susannah and toast the success of the movie by making the exclusive Brain on Fire Cocktail?

Designed by mixologist Ben Reed, the drink first appeared in Food for Thought... And Brain by Tim Bond.


50ml gin

15ml lemon juice

lemon sherbert (made from three bar spoons castor sugar muddled with six lemon zests)

10ml Maraschino liqueur

5ml Absinthe

75ml pomegranate juice (the better quality, the better)

Top with Prosecco


First muddle the lemon sherbert in a cocktail shaker, add the lemon juice and muddle until all the sugar has dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients (not the prosecco) and shake. Strain into a tall champagne   flute, top with prosecco and garnish with a single lemon zest. OR strain into a rocks glass filled with ice, add the prosecco and add the lemon zests already in the shaker. And then.... enjoy!

Click HERE to order a copy of Food for Thought... And Brain

Susannah Cahalan and The Encephalitis Society


Dr Ava Easton, the Chief Executive of The Encephalitis Society, and Susannah were lucky enough to build a relationship following the publication of Brain on Fire and have worked tirelessly together with Penguin Books to promote her book here in the UK.  

Susannah said: “If you’re lucky enough to survive such a devastating illness like encephalitis, the one gift you can give back is to share your own story with the world and hopefully help others. The Encephalitis Society is an important place where people who have all had similar (but always unique) experiences can come together, lean on others, and eventually move forward. I’m just so honoured to be a member of and Ambassador for this incredible organisation.”  

Q&A with Susannah

How did you become involved with the Society?

The Encephalitis Society's incredible website and resources provided tons of information while I was researching my book "Brain on Fire," but it was actually through Twitter and my publicist in the UK Karen Browning that I got the pleasure to meet Ava Easton, the spectacular force behind The Encephalitis Society. And once you meet Ava, there's absolutely no going back.

What is your vision for the Society over the next five years?

I would like to see The Encephalitis Society expand globally and also work with other foundations and non-profits on events and fundraisers overseas. I'd also love to see the creative side of The Encephalitis Society grow with more incredible programs like "Expressions of Encephalitis," which shows how art and creation can emerge out of illness. 

What is/was your occupation?

My occupation is an author and journalist. 

What is your best or funniest moment of working with the Society?

One of the greatest moments of my book tour was my UK launch event, which was hosted by The Encephalitis Society at Foyles Bookstore. There, I was honored to meet two fellow ambassadors, Mathew Bose, a brilliant and funny actor, who shined as MC, and Simon Hattenstone, a journalist, who survived encephalitis as a child, who led the question and answer segment of the night and really made me think. But the members who attended the event, some doctors and many encephalitis survivors, made it an event that I will never forget. 

What do you do away from work?

Well, I love to read (shocker!), so I'm always reading and in search of the next great book to devour. But my absolute favorite activity in the world is playing with my 100-pound hound, Gus.

What’s your favourite book, and why?

Wow. This is a hard one. If a gun was to my head, I'd have to say "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte because it's the book I've most-often re-read. It's dark, sexy, frightening, and inspiring. And I think it has one of the best "last lines" in the history of literature.

What’s your favourite album, and why?

Another tough one. "Jacksonville City Nights" by Ryan Adams. This album was so comforting to me when I was in the hospital and reminds me of my boyfriend and his incredible support during a very dark time of my life.

Whats your favourite film, and why?

This is a three-way tie between "Annie Hall," "Hannah and Her Sisters," and "Help" by the Beatles.  The first two are fairly self-explanatory: I've been obsessed with Woody Allen since forever. "Help," however, is not a film I watch anymore but when I was a kid I would watch it at least once a week for several years, so I had to include it. 

Whom do you most admire, and why?

I most admire the creative and openminded doctors who helped me get the diagnosis I needed, specifically Dr. Souhel Najjar at NYU and Dr. Josep Dalmau, who is now in Barcelona. They are the perfect examples of creativity and open mindedness in medicine. They are selfless, devoted, and extremely patient and kind.

On more person, Bjork. She's just badass. 

If you could invite 3 people (past  and present) to dinner who would they be and why?

I think I'd invite all old-school journalists, the kind of reporters who know how to have a good time and really tie one on, so the guest list would be: Ernest Hemingway, Joseph Mitchell, Hunter S. Thompson, Joan Didion, Tom Wolfe, Jimmy Breslin....okay, okay, I'll stop. 

The Encephalitis Society

The Encephalitis Society was founded in 1994, is a registered charity and the only resource of its kind in the world providing direct support and information to people affected by Encephalitis, and to their family and friends.

We receive no Government funding and rely on income raised from individuals, businesses and grant-making organisations.

Click HERE if you would like to become a member of The Encephalitis Society and find our more about our encephalitis and our work. Membership is FREE.

If you would like to help families affected by encephalitis, why not fundraise for us or consider joining our The Foundation Scheme?

Or perhaps you could join our Members by helping us to raise awareness of encephalitis on World Encephalitis Day on February 22 every year. Click HERE to learn more about World Encephalitis Day 2016

We also have a number of books and merchandise on offer for anyone interested in further reading.


The Encephalitis Society is the operating name of the Encephalitis Support Group which is a registered Charity and Company Limited by Guarantee.

Registered in England and Wales No. 4189027. Registered Office as above. Registered Charity No. 1087843.