A depressed and downtrodden thirty-five-year-old identical twin, whom I will call T., told me that his brother’s upcoming wedding will feel like a funeral rather than a wedding. Since his brother began dating his fiancée about two years ago, T. has been withdrawn and emotionally shut down. He was unable to attend family functions that included his twin and the fiancée because he felt that he could not be present or authentic.
While this young man can intellectualize his feelings of abandonment, grief, and sadness, he has a limited ability to feel them. He dreads not showing up at his brother’s wedding because his absence will devastate his family, his twin, and himself. He recognizes that he has been emotionally paralyzed for the last few years since his brother first introduced his girlfriend to the family.
T.’s family is upset about his inability or unwillingness to move forward. The family has candidly discussed the situation; however, for some reason, T. seems to have little motivation to work through his depression. He either cannot or will not follow through with psychotherapy or entertain the notion of medication. While the twinship certainly plays a substantial role in T.’s issues with his brother, the broken twin connection also seems to have revealed other emotional factors previously well-hidden behind the twin façade.
Judging by T.’s story, I surmise that the twinship formerly provided a defensive bulwark to ward off feelings and anxieties he does not want to confront. I intuit that many of these feelings involve unresolved fears about his social insecurities, which predate his brother’s upcoming marriage.
This case highlights how the twin bond may inhibit skills that are routinely overlooked in twins, such as responses to peer pressure, outside friendships, and societal expectations. While speculating about what might have occurred if T. faced these issues as a singleton is moot, these circumstances do illustrate how a loving twin relationship can unconsciously derail expectable developmental behaviors for one or both twins.