Twin Sisters and Their Journey Through Schizophrenia
Pamela Spiro Wagner and Carolyn S. Spiro, M.D.
St. Martin's Press
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.
I know where Mrs. Jardin keeps the crowns, we all do. They are locked in a cabinet high above the utility sink in which we wash our paintbrushes...
Praise for Divided Minds
“This harrowing but arresting memoir—written in alternating voices by identical twins, now in their 50s—reveals how devastating schizophrenia is to both the victim and those who love her” —Publishers Weekly starred review
“[A] riveting memoir . . . Divided Minds does a remarkable job of interpreting [a] hellish realm.” —Kirkus
“[Divided Minds] successfully yields compelling insights on familial bonds and the ravaging effects of mental illness on family.” —Library Journal
“The combination of first-person narratives provides an unusually well-rounded portrait of schizophrenia.” —Kirkus