As a twin of almost 26 years now, with younger twin brothers, I’d say I probably know more about twins than the average person.
First and foremost, I know that every set of twins has a story.
My sister and I have experienced countless examples of ‘twintuition’, from waking up and recounting the same dream, to walking out of exams and discovering we’d written virtually the same essay, to receiving identical marks in our HSC (before scaling put me in the lead by 0.02…confirming that I am the smart twin and Clare is, unfortunately, the dumb one).
When I studied Greek mythology, twins were always characterised as either an omen or a blessing. They were divine, and therefore were met with great superstition. It would seem that since the beginning of time there has always been something about twins that others don't quite understand. And in 2016, researchers are still attempting to decipher twinship - arguably one of the closest human bonds.
The ABC recently conducted a study entitled Truth about twins: Do they feel each other's pain, have ESP or share the same DNA?
ESP stands for Extra Sensory Perception, which simply means the awareness of information not gained through the senses. So, even though a twin may not be in the physical presence of their mate, they can feel that something isn't right.
Telepathy is defined as "the supposed communication of thoughts or ideas by means other than the known senses...." and indeed, there is a form of communication, which isn't sight, sound or touch, which twins seem to be able to utilise.
Clare Blumer argues that although twins "may have a shared understanding or have plenty in common..." it's more "generational or environmental than telepathic".
Ultimately, the study attempted to distinguish twin 'facts' from 'fiction'.
But I think the story might be more complicated than that.
I spoke to my twin friends and asked if they'd ever had a weird twin experience (because twins hang out in twin covens and make up spells/curse non-twins etc). Here are some of the responses:
Only a month ago my mum called to tell me about a set of identical twins she knows. Both were pregnant, but were due months apart. Twin A went into labour and went to hospital. Without communicating this to her twin, hours later, twin B went into labour. She too went to hospital.
The most fascinating part of the story was that twin B was actually experiencing phantom labour pains, which stopped once her sister gave birth.
Our favourite sisters on television. Post continues below...
One set of twins lost their first tooth on the same night, at precisely 8pm. Oh, and it was also the same goddamn tooth.
A friend told me "we both have very similar memories from childhood. Something extremely accurate. We both can recall really strange small details of days spent in the country or at our grandparents house."
A secret language
I'm fairly certain that every set of twins in the history of the world has, at one time or another, seriously attempted to invent their own language. A friend recounted; "We had a secret twin language which used to spook a lot of people out. The code word 'red dog' used to mean we were bitterly unhappy and missing home."
A friend of my mums is a twin, and ran into her twin shopping one day. They were dressed the same. Head to toe. How embarrassing.
The sense that something is wrong
Many twins talk about feeling a sense of doom if their co-twin is in danger. I spoke to one twin who said, "I think it was Year Three and I was playing handball at recess, and out of nowhere I just started running to the big oval and found that James* was being chased by two guys in the year above us."
Then there are my 23-year-old brothers who have long impressed people with their guessing game. Someone will say, "okay, okay... guess a number between 1 and 100" and every single time, my brothers get it right. The only thing is that they have MEMORISED their answers. First they choose 7, then 83, then 6.
Other than my brothers being dirty cheats, it would seem there is strong evidence that twins do share an understanding of their co-twin's internal state.
So is the concept of 'telepathy' really that absurd? Could this be a kind of 'twin magic'?
Pamela Prindle Fierro argues;
Despite the lack of scientific proof, these personal experiences can't be denied. They happen. It is generally accepted that such incidents are signs of a deep emotional connection, that produces an intense sense of empathy, strong enough to generate physical sensations, such as feeling pain when a co-twin is hurting. Twins also know each other so intimately, that they can often predict how their twin will speak or behave.
On any given day, at any given time, my sister and I could very well be thinking the exact same thoughts. But that's not because of some supernatural quality. It's just because we're two people, with similar genetics, reared alongside each other, who have had many shared experiences. Our brains would be wired extremely similarly.
The relationship between twins is unlike any other. And in my opinion, regardless of science, there is something unequivocally magical about it.
Our mum keeps insisting we are two different people. For more from us....
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