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Running Out of Time to Be a Twin

A seventeen-year-old fraternal twin girl whom I will call Mia contacted me to talk about the challenges she and her sister may encounter when they attend separate colleges in the fall. She described her relationship with her sister as very close, sharing extracurricular activities, friends, and interests. They are the only children in the family. Last summer, they separated for the first time. Although Mia felt strange being without “her security blanket,” she related that it felt fantastic to be […]

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Who Was the Person You Used to Be?

As a twin who has devoted many decades of my psychotherapy practice to understanding the intricacies of the twin connection, I am sensitive to the challenges that arise when a twinship is permanently severed. Regardless of the age when death comes for one sibling, the survivor is left to deal with the overwhelming grief alone. Sometimes, the biggest challenge for surviving twins is constructing a revised version of their identity. In a sense, while grieving the death of their twin, […]

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No Twin Allowed!

When my children were young, we often read books from a series called the Berenstain Bears. The series included titles such as Too Much Birthday, Visit the Dentist, Trouble with Money, and Mama’s New Job. Each book addresses developmental challenges such as getting accustomed to a new baby, family and peer relationships, and the ethics of expectable social behaviors such as tantrums, name calling, and bullying. A recent session with an adult identical twin reminded me of a particular Berenstain […]

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Readiness versus Reactivity

A parent of three-year-old fraternal twin boys recently asked me for advice about toilet training. She and her husband disagree about how this should be managed. Parents experience successful toilet training as an important developmental milestone, and rightfully so. The transition from diapers to toilet paper is a significant step toward autonomy. However, as with all developmental markers, we must treat each child according to his or her individual circumstances. As a psychotherapist, I disagreed with her husband’s desire to […]

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Why Do Separations Feel Like Abandonments?

Research on attachment consistently shows that our experiences with our parents influence how we raise our own children. As I have noted previously in my many blog posts and books, many twin pairs had minimal parental connections and consequently had to “parent” each other. I have worked for many months with an identical twin in her forties. Two ongoing issues prompted her to get in touch with me: a longstanding rift with her twin and the tumultuous, treacherous behavior of […]

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