Category Archives: Identity

Pathological Accommodation

When I first read about a psychological process called pathological accommodation during my psychoanalytic training, I was struck by how it might also be useful in understanding some aspects of twin relationships. The concept originated out of the work of psychoanalyst Dr. Bernard Brandchaft. Dr. Shelley Doctors, another prominent psychoanalyst, describes how to understand this dynamic in terms of the mother-infant dyad: A person, likely from infancy onward, learns essentially to erase him- or herself in order to have a […]

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“I Don’t Know You”

Feeling embarrassed about one’s family members is not uncommon. In fact, at certain stages of development, this is expectable and acceptable. For example, many adolescents go through a period when they do not want to be seen with their parents or associated with them in any way. This is a rite of passage on the way to becoming separate and independent. Some individuals also feel embarrassed by their siblings sometimes, for many different reasons unique to their relationship and family […]

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Why Young Twins Behave Like Fair-Weather Friends

 A mother of seven-year-old identical twin girls requested that I write a blog post specifically to help parents of nontwins understand why some twin pairs struggle to make friends with their singleton peers. This mom described a very familiar dynamic: one daughter’s friend wanted her exclusive attention instead of having to share it with the twin. Naturally, this seven-year-old was torn between her loyalty to her twin and the desire to make her own friend. Most identical twin girls at […]

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From Function to Freedom

One of the many joys of working with patients over the long term is the extraordinary process of discovering the unhealthy, unconscious behaviors that perpetuated destructive relationships throughout their lives. I have been treating a woman in her early thirties for about three years. She initially sought counseling for the tremendous shame and loss she felt after breaking up with her long-term boyfriend. In our ensuing years together, we spent considerable time discussing how she conceptualizes attachment. Due to her […]

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When Twins Break Up

Twins who do not get along with their sibling definitely feel a sense of loss. Although the rupture most likely begins with anger and resentment, the ultimate split results in a distressing emotional upheaval. While this estrangement is not tantamount to the death of one’s twin, the split can nonetheless intensify painful feelings of grief and regret. Acknowledging that one’s twin connection is no longer special or comforting is heartbreaking. In fact, some twins feel tremendous shame over the split. […]

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