Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Philip Dick - womb twin survivor?

Talking of definitions, which I was yesterday, there is another definition that some people find  difficult to decide upon: what do you call the sole survivor when the co-twin dies within a couple of months of birth?
The Lone Twin Network include among their members:
  • those whose twin had died at or around the time of birth; 
  • members whose twin had died in childhood 
  • those whose twin had died in adult life. 
Two of the workers for the organisation lost their twins at birth. Joan Woodward, who founded the organisation was surprised to find  that the earlier the loss, the greater the pain.   See this article here.  People whose twin was lost before birth are not allowed to join, they are referred to wombtwin.com
This shows that the moment of birth is crucial in the definition. If your twin died some weeks before birth and was born with you, then you can be a "lone twin". If your twin was miscarried before 24 weeks, you cant.
The members whose twin died around birth can both womb twin survivors and lone twins, for they satisfy the criteria of both groups: they only knew their twin in the womb.  We have many people who post on the forum come to the womb twin lunches and  who are members of WombTwin.com, whose twin died close to birth. They can properly call themselves "womb twin survivors" and feel a part of our group.

A grave
The great advantage of having lost your twin at birth rather than before, is that there just might be some kind of grave or marker that your twin once existed.  It is very hard if no such place exists. The practice of burying a still born twin with an adult stranger is no longer so common, at least in the UK, for it is considered good practice that every body, however small, must have  a separate burial place. (This decision is the work of SANDS in London.

Philip Dick, author of Blade runner, lost his twin sister at six weeks.  A post on the womb twin forum alerted me to this fact.  He is interviewed here,  but he did not mention his twin.  However it is clear from his biography that the loss badly affected him.

He was born prematurely, along with his twin sister Jane, in Chicago on December 16, 1928. His father was Edgar Dick, his mother Dorothy Kindred - from her maiden name came Dick's middle initial. Jane died six weeks after her birth, a loss that Phil felt deeply throughout his life. As time went on, Phil came, with whatever justice, to blame his mother for Jane's death. His relationship with both of his parents was decidedly difficult, and made only more so when they divorced when he was five years old.

Sister Jane, his mother, and his father served as models for many of the characters who would populate Dick's fictional universes in the decades to come. In particular, the death of Jane - and Phil's traumatic sense of separation from her, an experience common to many twins who have lost their sibling - contributed to the dualist (twin-poled) dilemmas that dominated his creative work - science fiction (SF)/mainstream, real/fake, human/android. It was out of these pressing dualities that the two vast questions emerged which Dick often cited as encompassing his writing: What is Real? and What is Human?

He heard a voice in his head, a female, who  gave him  some ideas for his books.  His twin was his muse and accompanied him in life in this way.  They are buried together, united at last in death. 

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