One of the magical mysteries associated with multiples is that they share a special connection beyond that of ordinary siblings. While the twin bond is a special aspect of their unique relationship, sometimes it is endowed with extraordinary supernatural qualities.
There is plenty of anecdotal data to support the idea. Nearly every set of twins can relate a story. Sometimes, one twin experiences a physical sensation of something that is happening to their twin (such as labor pains or a heart attack.) Other times they will find that they perform similar actions when they're apart, such as buying the same item, ordering the same meal in a restaurant, or picking up the phone to make a call at the exact same moment. They may appear to know the other's thoughts, by speaking simultaneously or finishing each other's sentences.
The Twin Connection: Is it ESP?
For example, a friend of mine who is an identical twin shared several stories about the uncanny connection she has with her sister, especially considering that they have lived on different continents for much of their adult life. Most recently, during an online video chat, she and her sister discovered that they had purchased the exact same pair of pants, in the same color, from the same store, on the same day. Her sister lives in Belgium, while she lives in the United States. As a child, she remembers feeilng physical pain when her sister was spanked for faking a report card grade. She also experienced a cramping sensation at the very moment her sister went into labor, while her sister dreamt she was holding a baby at the exact moment that my friend gave birth to her daughter.
Commonly, twins seem to share an inherent understanding of their co-twin's emotional state. Many report a sensation of "something being wrong" when their twin is in crisis. My own twin daughters experienced this during a trip to Disney World when they were five years old. During an evening shopping trip at Downtown Disney, the family split up. I headed in one direction with one of the girls (L) while my husband remained in a store to complete a purchase. He thought I had both girls and departed the store, leaving behind a tearful, bewildered five-year-old (M). My daughter was a "missing child" if only momentarily. (My husband realized the situation and reunited with her within a few moments.) Of course, I had no idea what was going on as I browsed through the shops with L. But she was agitated and out of sorts, pushing me to "Hurry, hurry" and get back. Then, abruptly, she settled down, almost with an audible sigh of relief. When my husband and I reconciled the stories, we realized that her change in personality coincided exactly with the moment he returned to the store and discovered M!
So what is this phenomenon? Can twins really read each other's minds? Telepathy is the process of assessing thoughts or feelings without help from sensory input like sight, sound or touch. In the paranormal world, extrasensory perception (known as ESP) is an ability to acquire information without relying on physical senses or previous experience. Is a form of twin telepathy or ESP at work to cause these extraordinary experiences?
Scientific Confirmation of Twin Telepathy
There is no scientific evidence to confirm the concept. In her book, Entwined Lives, Dr. Nancy L. Segal, a preeminent twin researcher, says, "There is no evidence that twins' similarities are caused by mental communication between them." Dr. Eileen Pearlman, another twin expert concurred in an interview, saying "There has been no scientific evidence to support ESP in twins." There simply isn't any empirical proof that twins have ESP or that twin telepathy exists. It can't be substantiated in a scientific environment.
Despite the lack of scientific proof, these personal experiences can't be denied. They hapen. 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. This phenomenon can also be observed between two non-twin people in a close relationship, such as a husband and wife who have been married for many years. And many twins -- whether due to nature or nurture -- simply have the same insticts, tendencies or preferences, explaining why they do eerily similar things simultaneously.
While the phenomenon is assumed to be more common in monozygotic (identical) twins because they share a closer genetic connection, dizygotic or fraternal twins aren't excluded. They often exhibit a deep connection also.
Putting it to the Test
I decided to perform a small experiement to see if my twin daughters have a mental connection that could be described as ESP. I used a Zener ESP test from the About.com Guide to Paranormal Phenomena. I gave the test to each of my twin daughters individually, then had them do the test together, with one twin as the "sender" and the other as the "receiver." Then my husband and I did the test together. Our nonscientific results showed that my twins did slightly better when they were doing the test together. Basically, one twin would look at the card, which had one of five simple symbols on it. Then, she would "mentally focus" on the symbol while her sister would try and guess what it was. Interestingly, though, my husband and I did just as well as the twins when we performed the test together. One thing that I found intriguing about my twin daughters' approach to the test was that they devised their own system for sending telepathic messages. They designated a trigger idea for each symbol on the Zener cards. For example, if the symbol was a circle, the "sender" would think about pizza. I don't know if it helped their scores at all, but it definitely showed me how similarly their mental processes operated. The notion of twin telepathy, ESP, or a magical mental connection is certainly a fascinating aspect of twinship. The amazing stories related by twins illustrate their special relationship. Do you have a story to share? Submit it to this site.