Wednesday, March 3, 2010
In some discussions with people this week, I realized I hadn't reviewed this book yet here. I originally heard about it on npr (not surprisingly), and was fascinated. At this link, there is a brief story about the book and an excerpt.
As the mother, I can't imagine separating my twins. Yes, they currently have separate rooms, but not raising them together, not allowing them to interact. Not allowing them to know from an early age that they have a sibling born on the same day.
I can't imagine the ethics of separating twins either. It's true, the first few months of their lives were really, really difficult for me. Having one newborn is difficult enough - but two is even more difficult. Because they don't sleep at the same time!
Before reading this book, I didn't think separating twins was a good idea. Afterwards, I find I disagree with it strongly. Particularly separating twins for research - no matter how valuable the data gained may be.
I am also someone who supports psychological research into mental health and illness. Also I support research into the genetic causes for various diseases and behaviors. It is important.
We can draw lines with experimenting on human beings and we should. If experiementation is done, it needs to have the proper consent and review by ethics panels. This is definitely something worth talking about as a society (where the lines are) - because it's not always clear. If the research may harm the participants, the proposal should be denied. Of course, harm is also difficult to define - again, why the panels and review are important.
Finally, I believe that the archives should be opened so these women can see the research findings on them personally. The researchers studied them until they were a year old, but I think they have a right to that information.
I believe the archives are currently closed for another thirty to fifty years. And there were other adoptees who were studied, separately, for longer. Some who may not realize that they have a twin sibling. It seems like the plot of a gothic novel, but it was real, and the people involved were genuine.
In the end, again, I know the "nature vs. nurture" question is compelling. For some things, however, does it matter why? Some things are the way they are. There aren't any easy answers, obviously, if there were we would have found them already.