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Identical twins with opposite characters

So here’s the Big Question: how could identical twins have such different personalities when they share identical genes and upbringings?

Medical science is beginning to uncover evidence that it is possible for identical twins to inherit different personality traits from both parents. In fact it’s even suggested that the reason that a zygote splits, is precisely because there are two such conflicting personality genes churning around in there. It’s as if nature says – whoops – this isn’t going to work in one person, lets split it off into two people.

Just to give a medical heads up for those who are interested, this happens through a process of epigenetics where genes are switched on or off in the zygote and this process continues when it splits – or half splits – into two foetuses in utero.

There’s also a theory that identical twins need to develop different character traits as a survival mechanism. When they grow up and are faced with, say, a life threatening flash flood, one will be more likely to run and the other to scramble up a tree. Which increases the likelihood that at least one will survive.

Now having different personalities isn’t really a problem with identical twins who can lead their own separate lives. But when, as in 1 in 200,000 cases, the zygote fails to split completely, it poses a big problem for the resulting twins. One is like mum and one is like dad but if mum and dad don’t get on occasionally, they can stamp a foot and walk out to stew in another room.

Not so conjoined twins. Iranian twins Ladan and Laleh Bijani were 29 when they decided they would rather risk death than keep on living together as two such different people. They underwent highly risky separation surgery and both died. Riba and George Schappell (George was born a woman but later chose to be a man) cope by having different professions and zoning out one by one to let the other live their own life. They even drape a blanket over one while the other lives her life.

The situation with Masha and Dasha was made worse because they were taken from their mother and placed in a cot in a laboratory for the first six years of their lives. Deprived of a primary carer and medically abused by the scientists they both suffered from childhood attachment (or abandonment) disorder.

This can go one of two ways.

If you have dominant genes, you will develop narcissistic/sociopathic/psychopathic tendencies which are all on the same spectrum of a behavioural disorder.

If you’re genes a little fluffier then you are more likely to be an empath or co-dependent. Interestingly there aren’t so many snappy words for someone at the other end of the spectrum. Except ‘victim.’

But neither are to blame. Yes, the empath tends to come off worse and suffer more. But both the psychopath and the empath have the same hole in their souls. They have a false self instead of a true self. They were never given the rich soil and nurturing to put down roots and grow into a strong tree.

Instead the psycopath is a person unable to love but desperately needing to be loved (because he or she never experienced it) and the empath is someone who loves too much and desperately longs to be loved in return (because he or she never experienced it.)

Masha became the psychopath and Dasha the empath.

A terrible Devil’s tango.

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