Twin Sisters and Their Journey Through Schizophrenia
St. Martin's Press, Hardcover, 9780312320645, 336pp.
Publication Date: July 28, 2005
A riveting true story of sisters who were identical, until the voices began
Growing up in the fifties, Carolyn Spiro was always in the shadow of her more intellectually dominant and socially outgoing twin, Pamela. But as the twins approached adolescence, Pamela began to suffer the initial symptoms of schizophrenia, hearing disembodied voices that haunted her for years and culminated during her freshman year of college at Brown University where she had her first major breakdown and hospitalization. Pamela’s illness allowed Carolyn to enter the spotlight that had for so long been focused on her sister. Exceeding everyone’s expectations, Carolyn graduated from Harvard Medical School and forged a successful career in psychiatry.
Despite Pamela’s estrangement from the rest of her family, the sisters remained very close, “bonded with the twin glue,” calling each other several times a week and visiting as frequently as possible. Carolyn continued to believe in the humanity of her sister, not merely in her illness, and Pamela responded.
Told in the alternating voices of the sisters, Divided Minds is a heartbreaking account of the far reaches of madness as well as the depths of ambivalence and love between twins. It is a true and unusually frank story of identical twins with very different identities and wildly different experiences of the world around them. It is one of the most compelling histories of two such siblings in the canon of writing on mental illness.
PAMELA SPIRO WAGNER is a writer and poet living in Wethersfield, Connecticut. She is the winner of the 1993 Connecticut Mental Health Media Award, Tunxis Poetry Review First Prize for three consecutive years, and the 2002 BBC International Poetry Award. Her work has appeared in The Hartford Courant, Tikkun, Trinity Review, Midwest Poetry Review, and LA Weekly. CAROLYN S. SPIRO, M.D., is a private practice psychiatrist and writer living in Wilton, Connecticut. Pamela and Carolyn worked together for three years on Divided Minds.