Through Craniosacral Therapy and Spiritual Healing, embryonic experiences often come to the surface as a cause for significant physical, emotional and psychological conditions in ones life.  Even experiences of IVF babies whilst in the test tube have arisen as influencing factors.  This is a clear demonstration of the need to be aware of the spirit and physiology of the arriving child from very early age, especially in these days of increased reliance on IVF.  The Vanishing Twin syndrome is one that is especially relevant in that it has a major influence on the life of the surviving twin and effects all their relationships and most IVF babies will have experienced the loss of a twin during embryonic development due to multiple implantation.

 The following excerpts are taken from articles on the following website:  http://www.altheahayton.com/wombtwin/articles

Here are some more links:
http://www.naturalhealthtechniques.com/SpecificDiseases/vanishing_twin.htm
http://www.altheahayton.com/wombtwin/articles/womb-twin-articl.html

Womb Twin A study of womb twin survivors in Hungary

The case of the vanishing twin

Borderline personality disorder: a misdiagnosis?

Schizophrenia and the lost twin

Hearing the news

How it feels to be un-twinned

Towards a psychological profile of womb twin survivors?
 
Fat me, thin me
 
What is a womb twin survivor?
 
The Dream of the Womb
 
The lost twin in the therapy room
 
Is your child a womb twin survivor?
 
Healing steps fpr a solitary twin
 
Nature Annihilates
 
Twinless twins
 
Twin research

 The Dream of the Womb

Pre and perinatal psychotherapists maintain that experiences in the womb and around birth leave some kind of impression in the mind of the foetus that remains throughout life. (Chamberlain 2007) These impressions are timeless, for there is no sense of time or chronology in the womb. They are formless, for they are formed before cognitive functioning is fully developed. They are confused, because there is no context within which they can be understood. They cannot be described as “memories” exactly, so I have called this mix of vague impressions, feelings, beliefs and attitudes the “Dream of the Womb.” It is my belief that the process of self understanding cannot be complete without some attempt to unravel the details of one's own particular Dream of the Womb. The re-enactment of a “foetal mode of being” in psychotherapy has already been described. (Ploye 2006)
Until these vague impressions are given some cognitive context, they can only be expressed non-verbally. Until this is understood, the psychology of the individual is driven by the need to keep the Dream alive. These impressions are acted out in relationship, in terms of one's sense of self, in various moods and feelings that are unrelated to the real situation, and in maladaptive behaviours. Only when the Dream is contextualised and fully interpreted in terms of a series of real events taking place in real time chronology, does the individual awaken from the Dream to the reality of their born life. This effect is particularly noticeable in the case of a “wombtwin survivor.”

(Written in the early days of womb twin research, 2005)

For every twin pregnancy that ends with the birth of a live twin pair, there are 10 twin pregnancies were only one live baby is born. (1) World-wide, about 1% of births consist of a twin pair, so that means that 10% of the world population consists of sole survivors of twin or multiple pregnancies ("womb twin survivors"). If losing a twin in the womb has any adverse effect at all upon the survivor, this is an area worthy of intensive study because of the very large numbers of people involved.

There are some medical problems of unknown aetiology that are now being linked to being a wombtwin survivor. (2) For example, the most well- known sign that a twin has died in the womb is vaginal bleeding in the first trimester (3) which has been linked to congenital birth defects (4) in the survivor. As more and more medical difficulties, such as cerebral palsy (5) and various malformations of cortical development (6) have been ascribed to this eventuality, it is becoming clear that the womb is an arena in which many previously mystifying health problems may in fact originate.

Materials and methods

In 2002 I set out to investigate the psychological effects of being a womb twin survivor. By means of a dedicated website (www.wombtwin.com) I attracted wombtwin survivors throughout the English-speaking world, by the use of key words such as “vanishing twin” and “twinless twins” as meta tags. There was an attitude questionnaire for interested parties to complete, based on the assumption that all womb twin survivors would feel much the same about their experience. This assumption was quickly proved wrong. After at least 25 questionnaires had been collected in each case, these were examined to see if the questions were working. In each case the three most popular questions were discovered, in the hope that some straightforward diagnostic characteristics would be found. For each new questionannaire, based upon a fresh assumption, different answers were found to be most popular.

In order to clarify what assumptions ought to be made, a small group of 8 wombtwin survivors were followed up by lengthy and detailed email exchanges over the space of two years, 2003-2005. This work served a dual purpose: firstly, this helped to clarify the inner experience of a wide variety of wombtwin survivors, and gradually revealed, by trial and error, what questions ought to be asked in order to find the most characteristic responses.

Secondly, special techniques were used for counselling by email (eg, maintaining confidentiality and anonymity; the use of empathy and intuition and the interpretation of unconscious processes) and a scheme of work was created that was therapeutic, for it enabled wombtwin survivors to begin to come to terms with their past. This scheme was in four stages: (i) to recognise the reality of the lost twin: (ii) to learn about the relationship of the survivor to their lost twin and how this is being re-enacted in present relationships and behaviours; (iii) to enact a ritual of separation and memorial for the lost twin (iv); to decide on a way forward of autonomy and integration.

The material gathered during these exchanges threw a greater light on the assumptions that lay behind the questions. These were gradually evaluated and refined by means of consultations by e-mail, together with a close examination of the contents of the e-mail messages and face-to-face individual counselling with womb twin survivors living locally. With the help and assistance of over 300 wombtwin survivors over a five-year period (2002-2007), a final version of the research questionnaire was at last prepared and uploaded in Feb 2006. In 2006 132 wombtwin survivors completed it, and it is still available. This is of course a very small sample of the 600 million wombtwin survivors world-wide, but the results were considered clear enough for a preliminary report to be issued.

Discussion

When the questionnaire results were first examined, the spread of attitudes was so wide and chaotic that no apparent pattern was noticeable at first, but 37 out of the 41 (90%) gave an affirmative response to the following four questions:

Deep down, I feel alone, even when I am among friends

The first question indicates the way in which most wombtwin survivors engage in paradoxical thought processes, that appear to be a response to contradictory information held in the memory at the deepest possible level. (I have called this the “Dream of the Womb”, for want of a better term.) The twin identities of the weak, dead twin and the strong, living survivor are intermixed, so that how wombtwin survivors feel subjectively is quite at odds with the prevailing objective reality.

E-mail interviews revealed that this fantasy is carefully maintained as a way to resolve the contradictions within it. This was described further by e-mail in various ways, including "being a dreamer" or "being a space cadet" or "dissociating". Among the various paradoxical thoughts that surfaced in e-mail interviews were denial of aggressive feelings; low self esteem; paranoia and defensive hostility. Paradoxical behaviour, such as self harm, was recognised as self-sabotaging by those practising it.

All my life I have felt restless and unsettled

The second question describes the emotional discomfort that seems to prevail in the life of almost every womb twin survivor. In e-mail interviews this was explained as a vague, irrational feeling of "something being wrong", but they did not know what it was. This feeling had been especially difficult to understand before they discovered that they were wombtwin survivors.

The discomfort was also described by some as an “emotional pain that persists, despite all my efforts to heal myself.” E-mail interviews revealed that grief was a strong component of this feeling, but a generalised form of low-level anxiety or depression were also present. The mysterious, vague and confusing nature of the feelings were a major cause of distress. Making sense of the feelings was seen by wombtwin survivors as helpful and therapeutic.

Wherever I am, I scan the faces around me

The third question is perhaps the most well-known of the effects of being a wombtwin survivor - the search for the lost twin. In her book “From Fetus to Child” Allessandra Piontelli (1992) described an infant wombtwin survivor searching the corners of the room for his twin, who had died just two weeks before birth. From all the various responses I have received, it is clear that “feeling incomplete”, the search for “wholeness”, for a "twin soul" or one's "other half" are universal themes among wombtwin survivors.

I like to have plenty of personal space

The fourth question describes further the inner world of the wombtwin survivor, which is a private domain that is shared with very few people. It is a form of self-isolation. Wombtwin survivors have a very active imagination and as children may create fantasy friends or talk for hours to their image in a mirror. It seems to be helpful to explain this as a recreation of the space once shared with the twin and the critical element is that it is populated solely by the surviving twin. A tendency to recreate the original womb situation is so strong that close relationships are quickly sabotaged by withdrawal if they are allowed to become too intimate.

Wombtwin survivors survive in the womb because of some advantage that enabled them to adapt to changing conditions. They appear to have adapted psychologically to their unusual origins by creating a private place in their mind where they can attempt to resolve and understand the paradoxical thoughts, confused feelings and irrational distress that is their lot. The e-mail interviews revealed that most womb twin survivors had never described their deepest feelings to anyone before, simply because the ideas sounded crazy and incoherent. There is widespread scepticism about the strength of feeling experienced by wombtwin survivors, which this research is designed to dispel. Womb twin survivors seek to present a calm, capable exterior and only those in a close and private relationship witness the strength of pent-up emotion that is held in that private space.

Results

The results of this preliminary research seem to show that in the four areas of paradoxical beliefs, emotional discomfort, searching and self-isolation, there are significant psychological effects on the survivors of a twin or multiple pregnancy. It also seems that simply to discover the reality that lies behind these difficult feelings is therapeutic. Many of the psychological issues that were raised, such as self harm and relationship difficulties, are widely discussed. It is hoped that the possibility of being a wombtwin survivor may be taken into consideration more frequently by the professionals involved in providing therapy and treatment.


Twinless twins

My fear of love and intimacy has affected any deep relationships I have. The consequences being I have never married or had my own children. This feels as if a part of me has never had the chance to blossom and bear fruit." [The Lone Twin, Joan Woodward]

Being alone and yet being half of a twin pair is essentially contradictory, particularly if one is the remaining half of an identical twin pair. It is known that identical (MZ) twins feel a greater sense of affiliation to their co-twin than fraternal (DZ) twins. [1]

In this web site, when I talk about "twinless twins" I am discussing those twin survivors whose twin died at birth or afterwards. I know that the term has been used elsewhere for twins whose co-twins died in the womb [2] but I want to distinguish the two groups, ( i.e.. pre-birth or post-birth) One of the most profound discoveries I have made as a result of my research is that the age at death does not have much effect on the emotional distress of the survivor, so my research and the therapeutic work described on this site does not make any distinction between the two groups, apart of course from the explanations given in this section. Nonetheless I will continue to use both terms in the way described here, for the term "twinless twin" is now in common use and it is important to be clear.

A thesis published in 2003 [3] was based upon in-depth interviews with 51 surviving adult twins whose co-twin was lost before or at birth and who had medical proof that their twin had once existed. These were referred to as "twinless twins." The term "wombtwin survivor" was not used, but then it was created later that same year. The study revealed that this group of "twinless twins" did experience emotional distress, particularly if the real basis of their sense of loss and grief was not understood and validated.

My research appears to validate a finding [4] by Joan Woodward, founder of the Lone Twin network [5]. She found that the loss experienced by the survivor when their twin died near birth or during pregnancy was experienced with no less intensity than by twins whose co-twin died much later in life. This finding appeared to go against common sense and therefore remained un-examined in her book "The Lone Twin." [6] Recent research is beginning to validate it.

Blocked grief

When one twin is stillborn or lost in the first few months of life, it seems that many parents are unsure if they should tell the surviving twin about their co-twin. Where the lost twin has never been fully acknowledged to the survivor as a separate person, there is invariably a lifelong feeling of blocked grief that seems to have no natural or logical outlet. However, when the real nature of the loss is fully acknowledged, the grieving process can begin. At that stage the release of long-suppressed feelings can precipitate a period of reactive depression.

As teenagers, twinless twins they may hide away weeping for hours, not really knowing why. As adults, they may plunge into "black dog" depression that comes and goes with no apparent cause. They are sometimes overachievers who always want to make changes in life and never settle on anything.

In my view the most important aspect of this inability to settle is a constant search, but the person the survivor is looking for cannot ever be found : it is the lost twin. Along with this restlessness there is a terrible sense of loneliness and isolation. It is a strong sign of a twinless twin's motivation to heal if he or she does has dare to reach out at last for help. The overall result is a life of persistent self sabotage, driven by survivor guilt, and this is a negative cycle that is not easily broken. However the reassurance that they are not crazy is a good start!.

Healing

Having courageously decided to face the reality of their loss, the twinless twin may feel ready to take a hold on life after all. Having grieved fully, in many ways they can feel stronger than before. Twinless twins in the process of recovery have to give themselves permission to live, and come to terms with their true identity, -each one is a whole, living person with a bright future, not someone in a sense "half dead", caught in a self-sabotaging cycle of mourning after a long-lost relationship.

This means that twinless twins do need to spend some time in mourning as part of their healing, however strange that may seem to outsiders. Once they have done that, they can begin to live life to the full. Crucially, they can make available to others their not inconsiderable gifts of empathy and extraordinary sensitivity to others. Only about 10% of the world population are sole survivors of a twin or multiple pregnancy, so the possibility of any individual being a twin survivor can easily be overlooked by those who do not share that experience. Unfortunately, most twin survivors do not realise the cause of their distress, which is why I have created this web site.

References

1. Segal Nancy L. Meeting One's Twin: Perceived Social Closeness and Familiarity Evolutionary Psychology 1:2003 pp 70-95

2. There are various Twinless Twins organisations world-wide providing advice support and help.

3. Dawn C.M The surviving twin: exploring the psychological, emotional, and spiritual impacts of having experienced a death before or at birth. PhD Dissertation, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology Palo Alto California 2003

4 Woodward J. The bereaved twin Acta Genet Med Gemellol (Roma). 1988;37(2):173-80

5. The Lone Twin Network P O Box 5653, Birmingham, B29 7JY UK

6 Woodward J The Lone Twin: A Study in Bereavement and Loss Free Association Books 1998

The Dream of the Womb

Pre and perinatal psychotherapists maintain that experiences in the womb and around birth leave some kind of impression in the mind of the foetus that remains throughout life. (Chamberlain 2007) These impressions are timeless, for there is no sense of time or chronology in the womb. They are formless, for they are formed before cognitive functioning is fully developed. They are confused, because there is no context within which they can be understood. They cannot be described as “memories” exactly, so I have called this mix of vague impressions, feelings, beliefs and attitudes the “Dream of the Womb.” It is my belief that the process of self understanding cannot be complete without some attempt to unravel the details of one's own particular Dream of the Womb. The re-enactment of a “foetal mode of being” in psychotherapy has already been described. (Ploye 2006)
Until these vague impressions are given some cognitive context, they can only be expressed non-verbally. Until this is understood, the psychology of the individual is driven by the need to keep the Dream alive. These impressions are acted out in relationship, in terms of one's sense of self, in various moods and feelings that are unrelated to the real situation, and in maladaptive behaviours. Only when the Dream is contextualised and fully interpreted in terms of a series of real events taking place in real time chronology, does the individual awaken from the Dream to the reality of their born life. This effect is particularly noticeable in the case of a “wombtwin survivor.”