13 March 2012

Entwined Lives: Twins and What They Tell Us About Human Behavior by Nancy L Segal


Entwined Lives was the third book I read in the interregnum between drafts of Into the Shining Sun, and it was by far the most scientifically-minded one of the three, focusing primarily on the insights that twin studies provide.  However, that is not to say it was without emotional content as well.  It even featured an entire chapter on twin loss, as well as a chapter that explored what happens when one twin is injured and the other is fine.

One of the most fascinating subjects was the biological variability that occurs in gestation of identical twins.  Depending on when the embryo split, there are four different sub-types of twins, depending on whether they have separate or fused placentae and whether or not they have separate chorions and amnions.

Another thing the book clarified to me were how identical twins’ personalities tend to play out; the genetic components of their personalities are quite strong, and differences between them tend to be quantitative: there is not a “leader” and “follower,” there is a “more frequent leader” and a “less frequent leader.”  Their identical genes also lead to similarities in their thinking; they are able to easily understand each other’s viewpoint.  This especially will have impact on Into the Shining Sun, and will help shape the relationship between Adam and Shawn as I revise the novel.

The chapter on loss was also especially useful.  One of the quotes from it really changed how I was thinking about Shawn’s death:

“In 1985, I lost then and forever my idea of my own immortality.  There was this form that looked so much like me, that moved like me, had mannerisms like me.  It was a tremendous impression that burned into my brain forever, I’ll never forget it.” - Jim Wilson, 6 years after the death of his identical twin brother, Bill.

All in all, Entwined Lives was a valuable read and I’m glad I found it.

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Books: Getting a few new ones from the library today, but meanwhile about halfway caught up with my periodicals.

Bottles: Drank some Spanish table wine last week.  It was okay but nothing special.  Can't remember the name.

Writing: Organizing my notes as we speak.

Guitar: Still working on "Shine On."