Defining Estrangement

By Adult Twin Issues

Estrangement is a subjective emotional experience that makes twins afraid to be together. Estrangement also causes deep shame because twins are supposed to get along. These dark feelings seem to be deep seated and often have a traumatic element to them.  Estrangement—serious avoidance of each other—between twins can be permanent depending on what triggered the event to occur. For example, if one twin sleeps with the brother’s or sister’s partner this will lead to a longstanding problem reuniting. If the anger between twins is not acted out but just fought about, twins will take long breaks and come back together over serious life-threatening situations.

I have worked with twins who are deeply estranged from one another after many years of heartfelt fighting, which turns in some cases to enormous fear or hatred of their sister or brother. Tension cannot be resolved. There is no compromise that is acceptable to both. There is no available negotiator or therapist that can deal with this deep and entrenched bond that has been fractured. In my experience psychotherapy cannot effectively reunite twins. Often twins seek out individual therapy as adults to feel better about themselves as individuals. Insight into your estrangement from your twin is a very healing possibility if the therapist understands the idiosyncrasies of twin development.