Sunday, June 12, 2011

A report in the New York times of 29th May describes the life of two craniopagus twins, and asks the question - " Could conjoined twins share a mind?" 

It seems that they do. These twins are 4 years old. If one drinks too fast, the other complains that her stomach  is too full.  If one has a dummy to suck, the other is soothed.  The writer, Susan Dominus, spent five days with the twins to observe them, and the family. Twins evidently run in this family, in a variety of different ways.





Here is a quote from this same article;

In the Hogan-McKay family, the fantasy of twinship, of a loving double, runs strong. Simms insists that her daughter Shaylee is her perfect replica, identical in face and temperament — she calls her “my mini-me.” The girls’ older sister, the tiny, round-faced Rosa, told me that she and her cousin Shyann, who lives with her, “are like twins” — despite the fact that Shyann is much taller and a year older. And Christopher, a winsome 6-year-old with a Mohawk that matches his father’s, has been told that he had a twin who died in the womb. The remnants of the twin, the doctors told his mother, were absorbed into his body, leaving only an unusual hairy patch on his back that still remains, the soft fuzzy shadow of a life that might have been. “If I don’t feel like being me, I can switch to how my twin feels,” Christopher told me once, as he was playing a video game. “And if I’m mad, I can switch to how my twin feels. Then I can switch back to being me.”

(Many womb twin survivors have said as much to me!)

Tatiana and Krista represent even more of a unity than the closest identical twins, and in a house where everyone’s attention is divided, the girls always have each other. Simms is the first to acknowledge that her relationship with the twins is different from those she has with her other children. “Rosa was my firstborn, so that’s always special,” she said, “and Christopher’s the only boy. And Shaylee, she’s my baby.” The twins, she says, are really “Nana’s girls,” partly because they bonded with their grandmother when Simms was going through her difficult pregnancy with Shaylee. If some other, more painful distinction is at play — a rejection of their difference or a sense of burden — that response is not apparent.

Though they frequently move in near synchrony, mirroring each other’s gestures, the girls clearly have different personalities. Simms says Tatiana is more lighthearted, that Krista is “more of the bully” — that she is moved to scratch or hit Tatiana in frustration more often than the reverse. And they look remarkably different, although they are thought to be identical. Tatiana’s heart and kidneys do more of the work for their bodies than Krista’s do, so she is smaller than her sister, frailer, diminutive like her fairy namesake; Krista has the round belly and cheeks of many a preschooler. Krista has a small dot of a red birthmark on her chest; Tatiana does not. Krista is allergic to canned corn; Tatiana is not. Even twinship, shared daily experiences and possibly shared sensory experiences do not render them one and the same.

The identical twin bond is the closet in nature - conjoined twins are very close, what about parasitic twins? The bond with a parasitic twin must be as close, but if there is no mind to share, then perhaps the bond consists of little more than an undying loyalty felt by the survivor, a kind of responsibility to keep their twin alive: - a common feeling among womb twin survivors.

There is so much more to learn about the twin bond. It is the closest attachment of all. 

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