Growing up in the fifties, Carolyn Spiro was always in the shadow of her more intellectually dominant and social outgoing twin, Pamela. But as the twins approached adolescence, Pamela began to succumb to schizophrenia, hearing disembodied voices and eventually suffering many breakdowns and hospitalizations.
Divided Minds is a dual memoir of identical twins, one of whom faces a life sentence of schizophrenia, and the other who becomes a psychiatrist, after entering the spotlight that had for so long been focused on her sister. 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.
"This harrowing but arresting memoirwritten in alternating voices by identical twins, now in their 50sreveals 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."
People, three stars
"[Divided Minds] successfully yields compelling insights on familial bonds and the ravaging effects of mental illness on family."
"The combination of first-person narratives provides an unusually well-rounded portrait of schizophrenia."
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. The condition, which afflicts Pamela (an award-winning poet), can be controlled with drugs and psychiatry, but never cured. When the twins were young, Pamela always outshone Carolyn. But in junior high, Pamela was beset by fears and began a lifelong pattern of cutting and burning herself. After the two entered Brown University, Pamela's decline into paranoia accelerated until she attempted suicide. During the ensuing years of Pamela's frequent breakdowns and hospitalizations, Carolyn became a psychiatrist, married and had two children. Empathetic and concerned, Carolyn nonetheless conveys her overwhelming frustration. and occasional alienation from her sister, when she is unable to help. Pamela's schizophrenia caused their father to sever his relationship with her. Remarkably descriptive, Pamela's account details how it feels to hear voices and to suspect evil in everyone. Though she struggles with her medications, Pamela remains a committed poet and is now reconciled with her father and close to her twin. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, Elizabeth Frost Knappman. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.