The Lone Twin: Understanding Twin Bereavement and Loss

Reviewed Publisher: 
London: Free Association Books.
Reviewed Title: 
The Lone Twin: Understanding Twin Bereavement and Loss (1998)
Reviewed Author: 

Joan Woodward's Bereaved Twin Study included interviews with 219 surviving twins whose uterine siblings deaths' occurred at stages ranging from prenatal to adulthood. The bereaved tell about their experiences in their own words and in their own names (very few chose to be anonymous) making the book very moving. From all witnesses, we learn how severe the loss of a twin can be. Although Woodward does not focus on twin losses in utero, there are a number of relevant case histories. When learning they had been a twin, without exception, the survivors said that they had already known about it at some level of consciousness and on hearing the news felt "everything fitted into place."Of particular interest for APPPAH members is Chapter 2 which deals with twin loss at the time of birth. These early losses produced painful, long-term distress affecting some lone twins for life. The survivors were unconsciously searching for the lost twin and strove anxiously to make connections with people. Woodward points to common themes among those who lose their twin in childhood or adulthood.In discussing therapeutic work with surviving twins, Woodward draws on Bowlby's Attachment work and emphasizes the differences between Bowlby and Freud. She learned that it had been hard for grieving twins to find therapists with deep awareness and helpful knowledge of the significance of twin loss. The Lone Twin Network started under the auspices of the Multiple Births Foundation but accumulated so many members that it became a separate organization. The Network facilitates group sharing of grief and developing a new sense of belonging again. The group is able to understand their suffering in a way that most of their families, friends, and therapists have not been able to.This book should be required reading for therapists, opening up the special world of twin relationships and losses. The final chapter raises questions about "selective foeticide," a frequent result of in vitro fertilization, which is constantly adding to the number of lone twins in the womb.

Publication Date: 
12/1998