“Twin Realities”: schizophrenia article from 2003

Pam and Lynn Spiro, in England, 1962






Kathleen Megan’s story from 2003, while DIVIDED MINDS was being written.




Carolyn  and Pamela, after she put on 60lbs on Zyprexa (olanzapine)

“The thing about twins is they invite comparison. Even though they may look identical, one usually has the edge — a little more confidence, a quicker smile, perhaps a bit more talent.

As babies and little girls, Pam Wagner and Carolyn Spiro were like that. They danced and acted and held promise that delighted their parents. They loved it when people mixed them up. They were a tight club of two.

And then in adolescence, Pam, the one with the edge, lost touch with her own mind. Life became confusing and the twins’s lives took separate paths, diverging and then intersecting repeatedly, as they once again do now. Pam is a poet and Carolyn a psychiatrist. In midlife, they’ve come together to write a book, to try to capture their story for the benefit of others, and also for themselves.

Their story is a tale of the inseparable bond of sisters, of twins, and their struggle when their lives became anything but identical.

• • •

When you enter Pam’s apartment you can’t escape the photo test: two adorable baby girls, ribbons in downy hair, one gazing intently, the other head-tilted, tentative. Both bright-eyed, identical. Which is which? Which is Pammy and which is her twin, Lynnie?

You can’t tell. Is that thoughtful tilt a Lynnie trait? The more focused expression Pammy’s? Impossible to say, so you guess and you guess wrong.

And you wonder, was the die already cast at so young an age? Were they already – though indistinguishable on the outside – so very divergent on the inside? The seed of illness, perhaps, already planted; the roles of caretaker and cared-for so early ordained. You try to reconcile these photos – these identical babies and later, mirror-image school girls – with all you see a half-century later.

So very different are they now. How do they live with this, the undoing of their twinhood? And, how has their family, so accomplished and talented, coped with the slap of fate? That one became psychotic, the other a psychiatrist. Pam catches you staring at the beguiling babies. “You know,” she says, “I was well once.”’

click on link above to find rest of story, written after a years long series of interviews, both at home and in hospitals.


3 thoughts on ““Twin Realities”: schizophrenia article from 2003”

  1. Dear Linda,

    I was worried when I saw that I could not find that blog post, so finding this comment (just today) is a source of great relief! I was so worried that maybe I had inadvertently upset you! Great to know my info was helpful. It is utterly shameful of that doc not to have informed you of the likely prognosis. Yes, all skin cancers should be removed, but in my humble opinion basal cell should be renamed so as not to scare anyone, esp seeing as how doctors apparently like to have us push the panic button! My best friend, MH some years back was toldher adénoma, again not at all likely to metastasize or even bother her, was a likely breast cancer and she should sign up for a support group. What a miserable meffer than Doctor was! She has refused to have another mammogram after suffering thru agony after that maliciously stupid doctor’s comments.


  2. Thank you So Much, Phoebe/Pam, for your very thoughtful and indepth comment on my recent blog post about the doctor telling me that I have skin cancer and need surgery. When he told me that the cancer was either basal cell or squamous cell, that was all he said. He did not add anything like the things you wrote in your comment, about the extreme rarity of basal cell carcinoma ever metastasizing and causing death! He said nothing reassuring at all.

    So, in my fear, I did not dare Google any information on skin cancer, because I did not want to scare myself. But after I read your very well informed comment about the typically great prognosis with these two types of skin cancer, then I went ahead and googled it. And, WHEW, I am now feeling greatly relieved. It will be a much better Thanksgiving for me today, thanks to YOU, dear friend!

    I approved your comment, of course. But then I decided to make that post private, because it is so alarmist, and you have made me see that I need not be alarmed. I don’t want others to read it and be upset like I was. Today is going to be very busy. But later, when I have the time, I will write a new post, with your wonderful comment as the centerpiece.

    Thank you so much, my friend! Thanks to you I am now all: 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are so amazing and brave. Oh how I wish we lived close enough to share Thanksgiving with you.


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