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A Tale of Two Twins: How Schizophrenia Changed Their Lives Forever



Divided Minds: Twin Sisters and Their Journey Through Schizophrenia




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. Written by Pamela Spiro Wagner and Carolyn Spiro, this book tells a heartbreaking but inspiring story of two sisters who share a bond that transcends 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.




Divided Minds: Twin Sisters and Their Journey Through Schizophrenia mobi download book



In this article, I will provide a summary and review of this book, as well as some FAQs that might interest you. If you are looking for a compelling and honest account of what it is like to live with schizophrenia, or to love someone who does, this book is for you.


The Early Years




Pamela and Carolyn Spiro were born in 1953 in Brooklyn, New York. They were identical twins who looked alike, but had very different personalities. Pamela was more intellectually dominant and socially outgoing, while Carolyn was more shy and sensitive. They grew up in a loving but strict family, with a father who was a doctor and a mother who was a homemaker. They had an older sister, Lynnie, who was also very smart and successful.


The twins had a close but competitive relationship. They shared everything, from clothes to toys to friends. They also excelled in school, especially in writing and art. However, they also fought a lot, sometimes physically. Pamela often felt superior to Carolyn, while Carolyn often felt jealous of Pamela.


When they were 12 years old, Pamela began to hear voices in her head. She thought they were angels or aliens who communicated with her telepathically. She also started to have paranoid delusions, such as believing that people were trying to poison her or that she had special powers. She became more isolated and withdrawn from her family and peers. She also developed anorexia nervosa, a eating disorder that made her starve herself.


Carolyn was confused and scared by Pamela's behavior. She tried to help her sister by talking to her or giving her food. She also tried to protect her from bullies or teachers who did not understand her. However, she also felt angry and resentful towards Pamela for ruining their childhood and making their family suffer. She wished that Pamela would just snap out of it or go away.


The College Years




After graduating from high school, Pamela and Carolyn went to different colleges. Pamela attended Brown University, where she majored in English literature. She hoped that college would be a fresh start for her, where she could make new friends and pursue her passion for writing. However, she soon realized that college was not what she expected. She had difficulty keeping up with her classes, managing her finances, and socializing with others. She also continued to hear voices and have delusions, which made her act erratically and impulsively. She often skipped classes, ran away from home, or attempted suicide. She was hospitalized several times, and diagnosed with schizophrenia, a severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves.


Carolyn attended Barnard College, where she majored in biology. She wanted to become a doctor like her father, and to help people like her sister. She worked hard and excelled in her studies, despite the stress and pressure of being a pre-med student. She also had a boyfriend, who later became her husband. She seemed to have a normal and successful life, but she also had her own problems. She suffered from depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. She also felt guilty and ashamed of her sister's condition, and tried to hide it from others. She often wondered why Pamela was sick and she was not, and what she could have done differently to prevent it.


The Medical Years




After college, Carolyn went to medical school at New York University, where she specialized in psychiatry. She wanted to understand and treat schizophrenia, and to help other patients like Pamela. She also became a mother of three children, who gave her joy and meaning in life. However, she also faced many challenges and dilemmas as a psychiatrist and a mother. She had to balance her work and family responsibilities, deal with the stigma and discrimination of being a female doctor, and cope with the ethical and emotional issues of treating mentally ill people. She also had to confront her own biases and prejudices towards her patients, who sometimes reminded her of Pamela.


Pamela went through various treatments, hospitals, and doctors over the years. She tried different medications, therapies, and programs that were supposed to help her recover from schizophrenia. However, none of them worked for her. She either did not respond to them, or suffered from their side effects. She also faced many hardships and dangers as a mentally ill person. She was abused, neglected, or exploited by some of the staff or other patients in the hospitals. She was homeless, penniless, or hopeless on the streets. She was arrested, assaulted, or harassed by the police or strangers. She also lost many of her friends, family members, or opportunities because of her illness.


Throughout their medical years, Pamela and Carolyn had a complex and changing relationship. They sometimes supported each other as sisters, but they also sometimes clashed as patient and doctor. They sometimes felt close and connected as twins, but they also sometimes felt distant and estranged as individuals. They sometimes loved each other unconditionally, but they also sometimes hated each other bitterly.


The Later Years




At present, Pamela and Carolyn are in their 50s. They have both achieved remarkable things in their lives, despite their struggles with schizophrenia. Pamela is a writer and poet who has published several books and won many awards for her work. She is also an advocate for mental health awareness and reform who speaks publicly about her experiences with schizophrenia. Carolyn is a psychiatrist who has practiced for over 20 years in various settings and specialties. She is also a mother who has raised three successful children who are now adults.


However, they also have many regrets and hopes for their future. Pamela still suffers from schizophrenia, which affects every aspect of her life. She still hears voices and has delusions, which make her feel scared and alone. She still takes medications and goes to therapy, which help her cope but do not cure her. She still faces stigma and discrimination from society, which limit her opportunities and rights. She hopes that one day she will be free from schizophrenia, or at least accepted for who she is.


Carolyn still struggles with depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, which affect her happiness and well-being. She still feels guilty and ashamed of Pamela's condition, and tries to hide it from others. She still wonders why Pamela was sick and she was not, and what she could have done differently to prevent it. She hopes that one day she will be at peace with herself, and with Pamela. Conclusion




Divided Minds is a powerful and moving book that reveals 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 also a story of courage and resilience, of hope and healing, of acceptance and forgiveness. If you are interested in learning more about schizophrenia, or about the lives and perspectives of people who live with it, or love someone who does, this book is for you. It will challenge your assumptions, enlighten your understanding, and touch your heart. FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about the book or its authors:



Question


Answer


How did Pamela and Carolyn write this book together?


They wrote this book by exchanging letters, emails, and phone calls over several years. They also met in person occasionally to discuss their memories and perspectives. They agreed to be honest and respectful of each other's views, even if they differed or conflicted.


What is schizophrenia and how does it affect people?


Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may experience hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there), delusions (believing things that are not true), disorganized speech or behavior (having trouble communicating or acting appropriately), and negative symptoms (losing interest or motivation in life). Schizophrenia can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or culture. It usually develops in late adolescence or early adulthood, and lasts for a lifetime. Schizophrenia can cause significant impairment and distress for the person and their family and friends.


What are the causes and treatments of schizophrenia?


The exact causes of schizophrenia are not known, but they are likely to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Some possible risk factors include having a family history of schizophrenia, experiencing prenatal or perinatal complications, having infections or autoimmune diseases, using drugs or alcohol, or undergoing stress or trauma. There is no cure for schizophrenia, but it can be treated with medications, psychotherapy, and psychosocial interventions. The goal of treatment is to reduce the symptoms and improve the quality of life of the person with schizophrenia.


What are the challenges and opportunities for people with schizophrenia?


People with schizophrenia face many challenges in their lives, such as stigma and discrimination from society, lack of access to adequate care and support, difficulty finding or keeping a job or a home, isolation or loneliness from others, and increased risk of physical or mental health problems. However, people with schizophrenia also have many opportunities to overcome these challenges and achieve their goals and dreams. They can benefit from the help and encouragement of their family and friends, the guidance and expertise of their health care providers, the advocacy and education of their peers and allies, and the creativity and resilience of their own minds.


Where can I find more information or resources about schizophrenia?


There are many sources of information or resources about schizophrenia that you can consult online or offline. Some examples are: - The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/index.shtml - The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Schizophrenia - The Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA): https://sardaa.org/ - The Hearing Voices Network (HVN): https://www.hearing-voices.org/ - The International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis (ISPS): https://www.isps.org/


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