What are Twins?

Picture by cattivo: "Zwillinge". Some rights reserved. Source: www.piqs.de


Twins, whether they are identical or fraternal, mostly share more similarities regarding their outer appearance than normal siblings. Identical twins even more, since they developed from one egg (zygote); "their innate make-up is alike" (Burlingham 85).

What occurs a lot in twins, is that they divide in one dominant (active) and one submissive (passive) member. This happens in the "first two or three years" (Burlingham 85). With these dissimilar roles, the twins obtain opposed character traits; the dominant one has characteristics of being "aggressive, possessive and selfish" (Burlingham 86) and the submissive one is more "gentle and altruistic" (Burlingham 86).

Usually when twins grew older, their essential resemblance of appearance and behavior would consequently have been increasingly covered by attained variation, but this is only possible if during the process of growing up some kind of self-identification of the individual twin has taken place as well as an "identification of the twins with each other" (Burlingham 87). It is explained that twins, especially identical twins, have same feelings in the same situations. Burlingham describes it as the following: "They are always seeing their own emotions played out before them, if therefore one twin experiences a pleasure or pain, the other lives through the same experience in identification" (Burlingham 87). It is exactly this regular procedure of identification with each other on the foundation of similarity and of emotional experience, "which keeps identical twins 'identical' in spite of acquired differences" (Burlingham 87) that are obtained by their personal self-identification. However, when the twins are grown up, it is hard to figure out how much of their similarity of appearance and behavior can be assigned to the twin’s basic identity, and how much comes from their identification with each other.


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