Dec. 28, 2011 at 11:38 AM ET
When twins Danielle and Nicole Fisher gave birth to baby boys within minutes of one another, people wondered whether it was the result of some sort of special twin telepathy. After all, what are the chances that two young women would get pregnant within weeks of one another and then deliver 13 minutes apart?
The duo insists they didn’t consciously plan to get pregnant together. Twenty-three year old Nicole Fisher put it down to the “twin thing.” “It just has something to do with that twin communication,” she told her hometown New Jersey newspaper, The Courier-Post.
But twin experts aren’t ready to explain this away with ESP.
“I’ve heard of these things happening before,” said Nancy Segal, a professor of psychology at California State University at Fullerton and author of “Entwined Lives: Twins and What They Tell Us About Human Behavior.” “It’s fascinating. But I don’t think there’s any kind of ESP going on.”
Segal thinks the more likely explanation is shared genetics. While genes aren’t destiny, she said, they tend to greatly influence our lives.
“Twins’ lives tend to be in synch, particularly identical twins,” Segal said. “And you could see how genetics might come into play when it comes to the ease of conception, for example.”
Segal has interviewed hundreds of twins and for the most part she hasn’t come across many instances of any special sort of twin communication.
“They can have very close connections,” Segal said. “They can spend a lot of time together because they get along so well.”
It’s not just the power of genes that makes twins feel so close, said Ricardo Ainslie, a professor in the department of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and author of “The Psychology of Twinship.”
“They grow up together in the same developmental context,” Ainslie said. “That’s very powerful. And because of it there will always be a kind of intimacy between twins that doesn’t exist between siblings that are different ages.”
Model Lauren Scruggs, who lost her left eye after being struck by an airplane propeller, has a fraternal twin sister, Brittany. In a recent post on CaringBridge.org, their mom, Cheryl Scruggs, reported that Brittany’s left eye had been twitching for days. “She knows it’s because of their deep connection she and Lo have, and God allowing her to go through this with her at the ‘twin’ level,” she wrote.
Still, the whole mythology of twin ESP can be oppressive, Ainslie said. Some twins even feel they come up short because they can’t communicate telepathically.
“When I interviewed twins,” Ainslie said, “I asked about this phenomenon. And what is interesting is that many twins seemed to feel that they didn’t measure up to that myth. They’d say ‘My twin and I try to communicate in these ways. Maybe we’re just not as twin-like as other twins.’”