Tag Archives: twins

Nature vs. nurture: Identical Twins Raised Apart

Here are some pretty incredible stories that I found in my clinical psychiatry book:

1) Jim L. and Jim S. were first reunited at age 39. They were genetically identical twins, reared apart since infancy by different adoptive families in Ohio and unaware of each other’s existence. As children, each twin had had a dog named Toy. Each bit his fingernails and, since age 18, had suffered from mixed headache syndrome, a combined tension and migraine headache. Each had been married twice, first to a Linda and then to a Betty. One twin had named his son James Alan, and the other, James Allen. Each had put a circular bench around a tree in his garden. Each had worked at a gas station and later part-time in law enforcement as a sheriff. Each chain-smoked Salems and preferred an occasional Miller Lite beer. Each scattered love notes to his wife around the house. Every summer, unbeknownst to the other, each had driven his family in a light blue Chevrolet from Ohio to the Pas-Grille Beach in St. Petersburg, Florida, for their summer vacation. They had similar voices, hand gestures, and mannerisms.

2) Jerry L. and Mark N., identical twins separated in infancy, were first reunited at age 30. Each was nearly bald and had a bushy mustache. Each was a volunteer firefighter and made his living installing safety equipment. Each wore aviator glasses, big belt buckles, and big key rings. Each drank Budweiser with his pinky hooked on the bottom of the can and crushed the can when he finished.

3) Jack Y. and Oskar S., identical twins born in Trinidad in 1933 and separated in infancy by their parents’ divorce, were first reunited at age 46. Oskar was raised by his Catholic mother and grandmother in Nazi-occupied Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia. Jack was raised by his Orthodox Jewish father in Trinidad and spent time on an Israeli kibbutz. Each wore aviator glasses and a blue sport shirt with shoulder plackets, had a trim mustache, liked sweet liqueurs, stored rubber bands on his wrists, read books and magazines from back to front, dipped buttered toast in his coffee, flushed the toilet before and after using it, enjoyed sneezing loudly in crowded elevators to frighten other passengers, and routinely fell asleep at night while watching television. Each was impatient, squeamish about germs, and gregarious.

4) Bessie and Jessie, identical twins separated at 8 months of age after their mother’s death, were first reunited at age 18. Each had had a bout of tuberculosis, and they had similar voices, energy levels, administrative talents, and decision-making styles. Each had had her hair cut short in early adolescence. Jessie had a college-level education, while Bessie had had only 4 years of formal education; yet Bessie scored 156 on intelligence quotient testing, while Jessie scored 153. Each read avidly, which may have compensated for Bessie’s sparse education; she created an environment compatible with her inherited potential.

Kaplan & Sadock’s “Synopsis of Psychiatry.” Ninth Edition.
Segal NL. Entwined Lives: Twins and What They Tell Us about Human Behavior. Plume: New York; 1999:116-151.