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Twins Separated at Birth - New Research
Twins in Ecuador
Nature vs Nuture
There have been numerous psychological studies through many years focusing on twins separated at birth by attempting to answer the age old question about the importance between nature and nurture. Scientist have often disagreed as to which is more important. Psychology researchers have published numerous papers on this topic. Advances in research methods in genetic studies have revealed a vast amount of new knowledge.
Studying the role of heredity and environment started in the 13th century in France. The “nature theory” believers think people have a genetic predisposition that explains human behavior. The “nurture theory” believers think behavior is learned or taught. Psychology studies have proven that essentially both theories are correct.
Psychology Research by Dr. Neubauer
In the 1950’s and 1960’s, a New York psychiatrist, Dr. Peter Neubauer caused society outrage when people learned of his psychology studies. Five sets of twins were intentionally separated at birth, raised in different homes without the knowledge of the adopting families or the twins. The families were informed they were participating in a child development study. Dr. Neubauer was considered a world leading expert in child psychiatry. He worked in conjunction with the Louise Wise Services adoption agency in New York. Another consultant, Dr. Viola Bernard, thought twins should be separated to improve their psychological development.
One set of the twins were apparently dropped from the program, as they were not developing at exactly the same rate, but the other four sets of twins still do not know they were part of this study, or that they have a twin somewhere. Dr. Bernard has died but Dr. Neubauer was questioned recently by CNN. He refused to disclose any facts, had no remorse for his decisions and his study findings are sealed until 2066.
Identical Twins Separated at Birth
Dogs - Triplets
Minnesota Twin Family Study
A well-known, longitudinal study is the Minnesota Twin Family Study, which originated in 1983. The original goal was to establish a registry of all twins born in Minnesota from 1936-1955 for psychological reference. Then, 1961-1964 was added. Ultimately they conducted personality and interests tests through the mail for more than 9800 twins and their families. The research was valuable as they were able to assess particular traits, which included academic skills, personalities and interests, social relationships, plus physical and mental health. They found that twins raised in separate homes also had very similar results.
Twins Day Festival
Largest Twin Festival in World
The largest gathering of twins (whether maternal or fraternal twins), triplets and quads is held annually in Twinsburg, Ohio. It is a 3 day event with a circus theme. According to National Geographic, during the festival the FBI project in conjunction with the University of Notre Dame and West Virginia University uses research methods to compare twins for even the slightest physical differences. The study was conducted in a tent. Twins are fingerprinted, photographed with high-resolution cameras and their irises are scanned to test new facial recognition software. The result is minute differences even in identical twins, such as a few freckles, pores in the skin or slight difference in the curve of an eyebrow which are reflected on facial recognition software.
In another tent twins are asked to sip small amounts of alcohol to see if they react the same way to the taste. This research is being conducted by Modell Chemical Senses Center of Philadelphia. Women’s health issues are being looked at by doctors from University Hospital of Cleveland. In addition, Proctor and Gamble was also present with a dermatologist comparing twins concerning skin damage.
Twinsburg, Ohio Twin Festival
The Epigenetics of Identical Twins
Twin Studies of DNA
Biomedical researchers all over the world are exploring nature and nurture. Biological twin studies are ideal for research as the twins both come from a single fertilized egg. For many years scientist have thought the DNA of twins was completely identical, but recent studies have disproved this theory. Up until then it was believed that any difference between twins was environmental.
While the majority of their DNA is the same, scientists at the University of Alabama, plus universities in Sweden and in the Netherlands have examined the DNA of twins and found that twins have a different number of copies of the same gene. It is normal for an individual to carry two copies of every gene, since they inherit one from each parent. However, scientist have discovered regions in the genome (genomes are all the DNA including the genes in an organism) where an individual may carry anywhere between 0 to 14 copies of a gene. This find has resulted in a whole new area of scientific research called eugenics.
In one example where twins were studied, it was learned one twin was missing some genes on a certain chromosome that indicated a risk of leukemia, which did result in the twin contracting that disease. The scientific community is now studying twins from a different perspective, as they have learned so much about DNA through the Human Genome Project and years of psychology research of twins.
Fraternal twins share roughly 50% of the same DNA. Fraternal twins have also been the subject of many research projects. Identical twins are very similar when it comes to physical ailments, therefore, one would conclude disease must be partially inherited. As an example, in my genealogy research I have discovered that lupus, which has not been considered a genetic disease, can be traced through each generation back to my great grandmother and I have lupus. There are no twins involved in my personal discovery but this illustrates how we all inherit two genes from each parent.
General Facts on Twin Separtion Adoption
Most of the twins that are separated at birth are due to babies being put up for adoption when families only want to adopt one child. Frequently children are not told they are adopted, or that they have a twin. Many adopted children want to find their birth mother, which has led to the discovery that they also have a twin.
For Twins Stories
In one well publicized case now at the Smithsonian, two brothers born in 1939, were adopted by two different families. It just so happened they were both given the same first name. The brothers managed to reconnect at age 39 and found they had numerous similarities. Each man was 6’ tall, weighed 180 pounds and both had dogs named Toy when growing up. Also their families both vacationed in St. Petersburg, FL. Both men married women named Linda when they were young and both got divorced. They both remarried women named Betty; they named their sons James Alan and James Allan. Each served as part-time sheriffs, enjoyed home carpentry, smoked Salem cigarettes, drank Miller Lite and suffered from severe headaches. They did comb their hair a bit differently, but there were other similarities as well. This case would certainly cause one to believe nature is extremely important in shaping an individual’s mannerisms, like and dislikes. The twins considered the day they met the most important day in their lives.
There is also a sad case in England where fraternal twins met, fell in love and married. It is unclear how they learned they were twins, but their marriage was illegal and a judge reversed it, as though it never happened.
There are numerous stories of twins meeting as adults and their lives have uncanny similarities. It seems to me that children should be told they are adopted and certainly told if they have a twin. It seems cruel to separate twins, but it still happens. It would be nice if twins, even if they are raised in different homes, had the opportunity to spend some time together as children. There is a bond between twins they defies explanation.
Nature vs Nurture
What do you think is more relevant in the life of raising a child?
© 2012 Pamela Oglesby