Who’s Up? Who’s Down?

Twins are constantly compared. This dynamic is an integral part of the twin landscape. If the dyadic pair has not yet learned how to manage the expectable vicissitudes of a twin connection, and one of the twins has not yet attained a well-functioning sense of a separate self, he or she may feel that his or her mood is always up or down.

An older twin in his sixties tells me that he is always up. This delusional upbeat mood protects him from intolerable feelings of shame and vulnerability. He cannot and will not tolerate dissenting viewpoints that do not mirror or validate his particular sensibilities. As a result, he interacts primarily with his computer. His emotional fragility requires his twin brother to protect and mask the first twin’s fragile psyche. His twin has no option but to participate in this inauthentic reality to avoid destabilizing his brother.

In contrast, a female twin in her early thirties is always down. She compares herself to everyone around her all of the time and feels that she is not pretty enough or smart enough to find love and happiness with another person. Consequently, she constantly feels depressed, hopeless, and self-loathing. Her twinship experience made her accustomed to feeling second rate, second best, and undeserving.

Both extremes are emotionally dysregulating. They interfere with the capacity to make healthy connections. Mutual recognition is a developmental milestone that enables two separate, independent persons to exist in a twinship. Life is full of ups and downs that require ongoing management and recalibration.

Image courtesy of Thomas 8047 (CC BY 2.0)

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