Editor's Note: If you plan to see Three Identical Strangers you may want to wait until later to read this story, which contains spoilers.
The Terrifying New Documentary Three Identical Strangers takes moviegoers on a wild ride.
What begins as the heartwarming story of three fun-loving, 19-year-old New Yorkers learning that they're identical birth-share triplets takes several crazy twists.
The film finds disquieting territory when the brothers and their adoptive families learn that the triplets – and other multiples – have been split as part of a secret social experiment.
"That was really bad," says Bobby Shafran, 56, one of the triplets featured in the PEOPLE issue this week
Published by CNN Films and I, Tonya Distributor NEON, the documentary (which won the Best Story Award in the Sundance Film Festival) in January caught the tragedy suffered by the brothers before they learned of a sinister psychological experiment that separated them deliberately at the age of six months Doctors and researchers can study the effects of nature versus education ̵
Born in 1961 at a hospital in Long Island, the babies (they were born as rare identical quadruplets, but one baby) died in three different homes with parents from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds from the now-disbanded Louise Wise Services placed in Manhattan.
The triplets – and a still unknown number of identical siblings – were broken up according to the design. Viola Bernard, a psychiatrist and adviser to the adoption agency, said she believed that it was in the best interest of children to live in different homes
Based on Bernard's advice: The late renowned psychiatrist Dr. Jr. Peter Neubauer of the Manhattan Child Development Center (which has since merged with the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services) and his research team set out to study the children, visit them, take notes, give them psychological tests and even film them, from cycling to jumping on their pogo sticks.
The children's study was "an opportunity," says Natascha Josefowitz, Neubauer's research assistant, in the film, adding that this was "not so bad" in the late 1950s.
In a statement to PEOPLE, the board said: "We do not support the Neubauer study, and we very much regret that it has taken place great courage of the people who participated in the film, and we are grateful that this film has created an opportunity for a public discourse on study. "
What the brothers and their adoptive parents did not know is that the researchers observed that their identical siblings did the same things – and that some of the biological parents in the study were suffering from a mental illness.
While Kellman says his mother "may have had minor problems," he and his biological brothers, all of whom have grown up in some emotional distress.
"We were all in psychiatric treatment as a teenager," says Shafran.
They believe this is due to the trauma of being torn apart at such a young age.
What Wardle and the brothers learned from a small, heavily edited part of the study revealed to them (unde, 1966) "One of the most shocking things was that these psychiatrists sat around and said, 'Oh, it It's really funny, the kids all seem to have these problems, "Wardle says," The obvious answer is that you've separated them from their siblings. "
Kellman and Shafran grew up in loving adopted homes and say they are not Study needs to know that genetics plays a big role in shaping personality, so it's a loving parent or guardian. "Caring makes the difference," Kellman says.
Wardle hopes the movie will "catch the viewer" over "Does the family think about being biological with someone or is it about love?" he says. "Are we products of our genes? a will? What about the ethics of scientific experimentation? "
Kellman adds," This story had to be told.
Three Identical Strangers plays in New York and Los Angeles before being expanded on July 6
To learn more about the triplets and the psychological experiment that her life changed, take a copy of PEOPLE on Friday.