The Psyche of Identical Twins

Identical twins Andrea and Emma Larson are the main characters of my upcoming novel That Was Then. To do justice to the twin experience I had to dig into the psychology of identical twins. I discovered a unique and amazing world.

My friend Linda is an identical twin. Linda and her sister Dina came over one evening to talk about their relationship and what it was like growing up. Wearing the same clothes, pretending to be one another to fool a teacher, substituting for one another on a date just for the fun of it, rebelling against being seen as the same. They’re much older now and married to very different men, but they can still buy the same dress without knowing that their twin has already purchased it and they’re still extremely close.


I also did some research, of course. I do love researching! The psychological makeup of twins was important to understand. From various articles I read, it seemed that some twins resented being treated as a unit, while others, even as adults, continue to act as one. Some comments from a research study:

  • I’d be lost without my twin.
  • My twin completes me … she’s my other half.
  • We feel more whole together than when we’re separated.
  • We were so close I never felt I needed anyone else.

On the other hand:

  • My sister and I viewed our identities as separate individuals living in a world of twinness.
  • Resentment often surfaced when they were seen as one instead of being two separate individuals.
  • My sister and I made daily efforts for others to recognize us as individuals and not as a tandem.
  • While most people begin life separate and must learn intimacy, my twin and I began life intimate and had to fight for separateness.
  • Is my identity based on looking like someone else?

On the subject of how others treat them:

  • We were easily recognized as twins and not always as individuals.
  • The only person who does not treat me like a twin is my twin. 
  • Names used over the years for us have included: “Peat and Repeat”; “Twin 1 and Twin 2”; “Jack and Jill”; “Knick and Knack”; “Copy and Cat”; “Twice as Nice” and “Trouble and Double Trouble.” 
  • It’s almost as if as a twin you are public property.
  • Hate it when people stare at us.

I suspect many of us are fascinated by the concept of being an identical twin. I hope I’ve done Andrea and Emma justice with their portrayal in That Was Then.

PS – if you’re a twin, I’d love to hear from you!


M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel is THE ADMIRAL’S WIFE, a dual timeline set in Hong Kong. Mary’s other novels, PARIS IN RUINS, TIME AND REGRET, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from AmazonNookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads or on her website

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Meet M.K.Tod

The historical fiction author behind A Writer of History...

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4 Responses

  1. I look forward to a book with identical twins as main characters. Have not read anything like this previously.

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