Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chapter 16: The Womb Twin research project

The whole idea of the Womb Twin research project has been to find womb twin survivors and ask them how it feels to be a womb twin survivor.  This chapter will review some of the main developments since the project began in 2003.

Womb twin survivors revealed
In 1995,  Dr. Charles Boklage concluded from his research that for every twin pair born intact there are at least ten sole survivors. It took another ten years for the impact of this statistic to be fully realised, but gradually, the idea entered into the public consciousness. 
    Two years later, in 1997, a web site about “The vanishing twin phenomenon” was created by Caryl Dennis in the USA.  She writes that she began her work: “…after finding out not only that I am a surviving twin, but also that my fraternal twin siblings probably began as triplets, and that my youngest brother was a surviving ‘mirror’ identical twin.” 
    Four years later in 2001 the idea caught the attention of the popular scientific press.  By 2005, pre- and perinatal psychology was well-established as a science in California, USA.  One expert described the lost twin issue as  “..a little known but very commonplace phenomenon.” 

Finding womb twin survivors
Until the 1980s there was no way of identifying womb twin survivors, simply because no one had any idea they existed.  By 2003 modern technology had made it possible to find a sufficient number of womb twin survivors to carry out this research at minimal cost.  It was possible to recruit a large number of womb twin survivors via the Internet.  To that end, the first womb twin web site was created in 2003.  Until then, it had not been possible to go out and find womb twin survivors but now they came to the site.  One by one, they began to tell their stories.

The Womb Twin hypothesis
Within a few months of launching the web site it was clear that womb twin survivors do have a specific psychological make-up, which appears to be related to the loss of their twin.  On that basis, the Womb Twin hypothesis was formulated:

Womb twin survivors spend their lives re-enacting the life and death of their womb twin.  Nothing is more important than that, even life itself.  Once the real pre-birth scene, which is constantly being 
re-enacted, is made clear, then the re-enactment tends to diminish or cease altogether, greatly to the benefit of the individual.

It has not been necessary to amend the hypothesis in any way since it was formulated in 2003.  In fact, repeated analyses of various versions of the questionnaire have consistently supported it.  At first, it seemed an extraordinary idea that the loss of a twin at birth or before could be the cause of a variety of psychological problems.  As time passed however, more and more womb twin survivors came forward, each with a similar story of misery and loss, which was clearly explained by the womb twin hypothesis.  It now seems that the psychological effects on the sole survivor, when a twin is lost around birth or before, have been hidden in plain sight for generations.  At last, we have learned how to recognise these effects and describe them. 

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