FORCING TWINS TO BE DIFFERENT. My brother and Elmer were always treated as identical by my parents, but they encountered resistance from the school system as we got older. The theory was that twins had to develop their own individuality. At a minimum, this meant different classrooms. This article in Slate by David Greenberg and Maida Greenberg discusses a 1952 book (TWINS) that “explained why it’s not so wonderful to have a look-alike.” The author, Dorothy Burlingham was a psychoanalyst who had undergone psychoanalysis with Sigmund Freud. The book was based on the study of only three sets of identical twins. It is surprising that such an apparently influential book was based on so little data. And one of the three sets evidently were Bert and Bill who “…were so invested in each other, so engaged in copying each other, that they didn’t develop appropriate social skills or a sense of separateness.” One of Burlingham’s conclusions was that parents: “… shouldn’t let [twins] relate primarily to each other.” Better was “a normal development of the tie to parents.”

The Harbaugh twins “tried very hard to cultivate individual interests and attitudes.” And have “driven each other crazy with a manic desire to report in detail whatever the other missed.” So, despite the efforts to develop individuality, there remains a strong tie between them.

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