Mental Health
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
50 Signs of Mental IllnessA Beautiful MindA Beautiful MindA Bright Red ScreamA Casebook of Ethical Challenges in NeuropsychologyA Corner Of The UniverseA Lethal InheritanceA Mood ApartA Research Agenda for DSM-VA Slant of SunA War of NervesAbnormal Psychology in ContextADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your LifeAddiction Recovery ToolsAdvance Directives in Mental HealthAggression and Antisocial Behavior in Children and AdolescentsAl-JununAlmost a PsychopathAlterations of ConsciousnessAm I Okay?American ManiaAmerican Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical NeurosciencesAn American ObsessionAngelheadAnger, Madness, and the DaimonicAnthology of a Crazy LadyApproaching NeverlandAs Nature Made HimAsylumAttention-Deficit Hyperactivity DisorderAttention-Deficit/Hyperactivity DisorderBeing Mentally Ill: A Sociological Theory Betrayal TraumaBetrayed as BoysBetter Than ProzacBetter Than WellBeyond AppearanceBeyond ReasonBinge No MoreBiological UnhappinessBipolar DisorderBipolar DisorderBipolar Disorder DemystifiedBlack-eyed SuzieBlaming the BrainBleeding to Ease the PainBluebirdBlueprints Clinical Cases in PsychiatryBody Image, Eating Disorders, and ObesityBorderline Personality DisorderBrain Circuitry and Signaling in PsychiatryBrave New BrainBreakdown of WillBrief Adolescent Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Child Therapy Homework PlannerBrief Therapy Homework PlannerCalm EnergyCassandra's DaughterCaught in the NetChild and Adolescent Treatment for Social Work PracticeChildren Changed by TraumaChronic Fatigue Syndrome (The Facts)Clinical Handbook of Psychological DisordersClinical Manual of Women's Mental HealthCognitive Theories of Mental IllnessCommonsense RebellionCommunity and In-Home Behavioral Health TreatmentComprehending SuicideConcise Guide to Child and Adolescent PsychiatryConquering Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderConscience and ConvenienceConsciousnessConsole and ClassifyContesting PsychiatryCoping With TraumaCopshockCrazy for YouCrazy in AmericaCrazy Like UsCreating HysteriaCritical PsychiatryCruel CompassionCultural Assessment in Clinical PsychiatryCulture and Mental HealthCulture and Psychiatric DiagnosisCultures of NeurastheniaDaddy's GirlsDante's CureDarwinian PsychiatryDaughter of the Queen of ShebaDaughters of MadnessDeinstitutionalization And People With Intellectual DisabilitiesDelivered from DistractionDepression In Later LifeDepression SourcebookDepression-Free for LifeDescriptions and PrescriptionsDestructive Trends in Mental HealthDevil in the DetailsDiagnosis: SchizophreniaDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TRDirty Filthy Love DVDDisorders Of DesireDisrupted LivesDissociative ChildrenDivided MindsDr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Optimum HealthDr. Weisinger's Anger Work-Out BookDSM-IV SourcebookDSM-IV-TR CasebookDSM-IV-TR in ActionDSM-IV-TR Mental DisordersE-TherapyEccentricsElectroshockEmergencies in Mental Health PracticeEmergency PsychiatryEmotional and Behavioral Problems of Young ChildrenEmotions and LifeEmpowering People with Severe Mental IllnessEssential PsychopharmacologyEssentials of Cas AssessmentEssentials of Wais-III AssessmentEthics and Values in PsychotherapyEthics in Mental Health ResearchEthics in Psychiatric ResearchEthics, Culture, and PsychiatryEverything In Its PlaceFamily Experiences With Mental IllnessFatigue as a Window to the BrainFear of IntimacyFinding Iris ChangFinding Meaning in the Experience of DementiaFlorid StatesFolie a DeuxFor the Love of ItForensic Nursing and Multidisciplinary Care of the Mentally Disordered OffenderFountain HouseFrom Madness to Mental HealthFrom Trauma to TransformationGandhi's WayGender and Its Effects on PsychopathologyGender and Mental HealthGenes, Environment, and PsychopathologyGetting Your Life BackGracefully InsaneGrieving Mental IllnessHandbook of AttachmentHandbook of DepressionHandbook of Self and IdentityHealing the SplitHerbs for the MindHidden SelvesHigh RiskHope and DespairHow Clients Make Therapy WorkHow People ChangeHow to Become a SchizophrenicHow We Think About DementiaHughes' Outline of Modern PsychiatryHumanizing MadnessHysterical MenHystoriesI Hate You-Don't Leave MeI Never Promised You a Rose GardenI Thought I Could FlyI'm CrazyImagining RobertImpulse Control DisordersIn Others' EyesIn Two MindsInsanityIntegrated Behavioral Health CareIntegrative MedicineIntegrative Mental Health CareIntuitionJust CheckingKarl JaspersKissing DoorknobsKundalini Yoga Meditation for Complex Psychiatric DisordersLaw and the BrainLaw, Liberty, and PsychiatryLegal and Ethical Aspects of HealthcareLiberatory PsychiatryLife at the BottomLife at the Texas State Lunatic Asylum, 1857-1997Life Is Not a Game of PerfectLithium for MedeaLiving Outside Mental IllnessLiving with AnxietyLiving With SchizophreniaLiving with SchizophreniaLiving Without Depression and Manic DepressionLost in the MirrorLove's ExecutionerLoving Someone With Bipolar DisorderMad in AmericaMad TravelersMad, Bad and SadMadhouseMadnessMadness at HomeMadness in Buenos AiresManaged Care ContractingMandated Reporting of Suspected Child AbuseManic Depression and CreativityMary BarnesMasters of the MindMeasuring PsychopathologyMedia MadnessMedicine As MinistryMelancholy And the Care of the SoulMemory, Brain, and BeliefMental HealthMental Health At The CrossroadsMental Health Issues in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities Mental Health MattersMental Health Policy in BritainMental Health Policy in BritainMental Health Professionals, Minorities and the PoorMental IllnessMental Illness and Your TownMental Illness, Medicine and LawMental SlaveryMindfulness in Plain EnglishModels of MadnessMothers Who Kill Their ChildrenMozart's Brain and the Fighter PilotMultifamily Groups in the Treatment of Severe Psychiatric DisordersMuses, Madmen, and ProphetsMyths of ChildhoodNapkin NotesNeural MisfireNew Hope For People With Bipolar DisorderNight Falls FastNo Enemies WithinNolaNormalNot CrazyNovember of the SoulOf Two MindsOn Being Normal and Other DisordersOn Our Own, TogetherOn The Stigma Of Mental IllnessOrigins of Human NatureOut of Its MindOut of the ShadowsOvercoming Compulsive HoardingPathologies of BeliefPathways through PainPersonal Recovery and Mental IllnessPersonality Disorder: Temperament or Trauma?Pillar of SaltPoints of ViewPoppy ShakespearePosttraumatic Stress DisorderPsychiatric Cultures ComparedPsychiatric Diagnosis and ClassificationPsychiatric Genetics and GenomicsPsychiatric Illness in WomenPsychiatrists and Traditional HealersPsychiatryPsychiatry and ReligionPsychiatry in SocietyPsychological Dimensions of the SelfPsychology and the MediaPsychopathia SexualisPsychopathologyPsychopathyPsychotic DepressionQuitting the Nairobi TrioRaising a Moody ChildRapid Cognitive TherapyRebuilding Shattered LivesReclaiming Soul in Health CareReclaiming the SoulRecollection, Testimony, and Lying in Early ChildhoodRecovery from SchizophreniaRecovery in Mental IllnessRedressing the EmperorRelational Mental HealthRemembering TraumaRepressed SpacesResearch Advances in Genetics and GenomicsRestricted AccessRethinking the DSMReviving OpheliaRewarding Specialties for Mental Health CliniciansSaints, Scholars, and Schizophrenics: Mental Illness in Rural IrelandSchizophreniaSchizophrenia RevealedSchizophrenia: A Scientific Delusion?Self-Determination Theory in the ClinicShunnedShynessSigns of SafetySilencing the VoicesSlackjawSocial Cognition and SchizophreniaSocial Inclusion of People with Mental IllnessSoul Murder RevisitedSounds from the Bell JarSpeaking Our MindsSpontaneous HealingStop PretendingStraight Talk about Psychological Testing for KidsStranger Than FictionStreet CrazyStudy Guide to the DSM-IV-TRSurviving Manic DepressionSurviving SchizophreniaSurviving SchizophreniaTaking Charge of ADHD, Revised EditionTaking the Fear Out of ChangingTalking Back to PsychiatryTarnationTeen LoveTelling Is Risky BusinessTelling SecretsThe Age of InsanityThe American Psychiatric Press Textbook of PsychiatryThe American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook Of Child And Adolescent PsychiatryThe Anger WorkbookThe Anorexic SelfThe Behavioral Medicine Treatment PlannerThe Betty Ford Center Book of AnswersThe Bipolar ChildThe Bipolar Disorder Survival GuideThe Body in PsychotherapyThe Borderline Personality Disorder Survival GuideThe Broken MirrorThe Burden of SympathyThe Cambridge Medical Ethics WorkbookThe Case for Pragmatic PsychologyThe Center Cannot HoldThe Chemical Dependence Treatment Documentation SourcebookThe Chemical Dependence Treatment PlannerThe Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Clinical Child Documentation SourcebookThe Clinical Documentation SourcebookThe Complete Adult Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Condition of MadnessThe Construction of Power and Authority in PsychiatryThe Couples Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe Criminal BrainThe Cultural Context of Health, Illness, and MedicineThe Day the Voices StoppedThe Death of PsychotherapyThe Depression WorkbookThe Difficult-to-Treat Psychiatric PatientThe Early Stages of SchizophreniaThe Employee Assistance Treatment PlannerThe Employee Assistance Treatment PlannerThe Epidemiology of SchizophreniaThe Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality DisorderThe Essentials of New York Mental Health LawThe Ethical WayThe Evolution of Mental Health LawThe Explosive ChildThe Fall Of An IconThe Fasting GirlThe Forensic Documentation SourcebookThe Forgotten MournersThe Gift of Adult ADDThe Good EaterThe Green ParrotThe Healing Power of PetsThe Heart of AddictionThe Heroic ClientThe Insanity OffenseThe Invisible PlagueThe Last Time I Wore a DressThe Limits of Autobiography The LobotomistThe Madness of Our LivesThe Mark of ShameThe Meaning of AddictionThe Meaning of MindThe Medical AdvisorThe Mind/Mood Pill BookThe Most Solitary of AfflictionsThe Mozart EffectThe Naked Lady Who Stood on Her HeadThe Older Adult Psychotherapy Treatment PlannerThe OutsiderThe Pastoral Counseling Treatment PlannerThe PDR Family Guide to Natural Medicines & Healing TherapiesThe Places That Scare YouThe Plural SelfThe Problem of EvilThe Psychology of Religion and CopingThe Quiet RoomThe Real World Guide to Psychotherapy PracticeThe Right to Refuse Mental Health TreatmentThe Rise of Mental Health NursingThe Roots of the Recovery Movement in PsychiatryThe Savage GirlThe Self-Help SourcebookThe Talking CureThe Trick Is to Keep BreathingThe Unwell BrainThe Virtuous PsychiatristThe Way of TransitionThe Wing of MadnessThe Wisdom in FeelingTheoretical Evolutions in Person-Centered/Experiential TherapyTherapy's DelusionsTheraScribe 3.0 for WindowsThis is Madness TooThoughts Without a ThinkerThrough the Looking GlassTo Have Or To Be?Toxic PsychiatryTransforming MadnessTraumaTraumatic PastsTraumatic Relationships and Serious Mental DisordersTreating Affect PhobiaTreating Chronic and Severe Mental DisordersTreating Self-InjuryTreatment and Rehabilitation of Severe Mental IllnessTreatment Plans and Interventions for Depression and Anxiety DisordersTwinsUnderstanding and Treating Violent Psychiatric PatientsUnderstanding Child MolestersUnderstanding DepressionUnderstanding ParanoiaUnderstanding the Stigma of Mental IllnessUnderstanding Treatment Without ConsentUnholy MadnessUnspeakable Truths and Happy EndingsUsers and Abusers of PsychiatryViolence and Mental DisorderVoices of MadnessVoices of RecoveryVulnerability to PsychopathologyWarning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental HealthWashing My Life AwayWhen History Is a NightmareWhen Someone You Love Is BipolarWhen the Body SpeaksWhen Walls Become DoorwaysWitchcrazeWomen and Borderline Personality DisorderWomen and Mental IllnessWomen Who Hurt ThemselvesWomen's Mental HealthWrestling with the AngelYou Must Be DreamingYour Drug May Be Your ProblemYour Miracle Brain

Related Topics
TwinsReview - Twins
And What They Tell Us About Who We Are
by Lawrence Wright
John Wiley & Sons, 1997
Review by John D. Mullen, Ph.D.
Mar 31st 2000 (Volume 4, Issue 13)

Who among us has not embarrassed him or herself by gawking at the appearance of identical or monozygotic (MZ) human twins? This visual allure is an apt symbol of the deeper intellectual curiosity that twins hold for the far larger population of "singletons". But as Lawrence Wright indicates in his well-written, Twins And What They Tell Us About Who We Are, the study of MZ twins is not only endlessly fascinating, it also has much to contribute to our understanding of the human.

The most familiar contribution of twin research concerns the ancient question of nature vs. nurture. Plato had mused that each person by nature fell into one of three categories designated by the metals, iron, silver, or gold. His social scheme in The Republic (c. 360 BCE) was constructed to preclude anyone but the golds from ruling. After all, he had seen the damage that democracy, the rule of the irons, had done to his beloved Athenian polis. This Platonic pessimism had receded in the two thousand years before John Locke (c. 1689 CE) confidently declared humans to be tabula rasae, blank slates to be shaped by what experience writes upon them. Locke’s view took hold, of course, and became a supporting pillar of western ideology. Liberals rely upon it to trace the etiology of crime, poverty, teen pregnancy, and the like, to class inequalities, while conservatives deny the unfairness of such end-state social differences with claims of equal opportunity, that we all began in the same place. In psychology this tradition became "socialization theory" with the focus upon very early parent-to-child interactions as the prominent contributors of adolescent and adult characteristics. With so much riding upon the tabula rasa assumption we would expect any challenge to arouse the Furies from many sides.

The first important twentieth century challenge to Locke’s paradigm in the human sciences came from Noam Chomsky’s account of language development (for example, Syntactic Structures , 1957). But it has been the new science of behavioral genetics, the formal study of the differential contributions of genotype and environment to human development that has put the socialization theorists on the ropes. The study of identical twins has provided the most dramatic element of this new science. Lawrence Wright is an experienced journalist who tells this part of the story with accuracy and enthusiasm. The ground has been covered earlier and later by Plomin’s Nature and Nurture (1990), Rowe’s The Limits of Family Influence (1994), Harris’ The Nurture Assumption, (1998) [reviewed in Metapsychology March 1999], and journalistically by William Wright’s Born that Way (1998).

Lawrence Wright’s chapter 4, "The Minnesota Experience", chronicles the reared-apart MZ twin research of Thomas Bouchard, who had been lured from the socialization ranks by Arthur Jensen’s famous Harvard Education Review article (1969) on the genetics of IQ. As with Jensen, Bouchard had been the subject of political pressures from leftist students and, as Wright notes, his funding from the ultra right Pioneer Fund did not make matters better. In the sixteen years between 1979 – 95 Bouchard studied 132 identical twins and 102 fraternal twins. Wright highlights some of the quirky cases that Bouchard studied such as the "two Jims", the "giggle twins", and the "Nazi and the Jew". He also summarizes the rather startling results, some of which go to the heart of socialization theory’s emphasis upon the causal efficacy of shared (home) environments, "Moreover, there was not a single one of those personality traits in which fraternal twins reared together were more alike than identical twins reared apart."(62) Wright’s chapter 5, "The Critics Respond", is a fair representation of the story’s other side.

The behavioral genetic study of twin research has vastly enriched and complicated the terms of the nature vs. nurture dispute, and as such has made important contributions to social science methodology. Wright’s treatment of the increasing complexity of the debate in his Chapters 9 and 10, "The Environment We Make" and "Beyond Nature versus Nurture", is more sketchy than the topic deserves . Some of these complicating factors are as follows. First, the term "nurture" should no longer be equated with "environment". The former term holds too much association with parenting and with the very young, while very good research seems to indicate that in all but extreme cases such early parenting has little effect. Second, the term "environment" cannot be taken to mean experiences after birth since, as Wright aptly describes, a great deal more than previously thought goes on in utero. Third, the core of parenting research is the measurement of "parenting effects", for example, of "what works and what doesn’t work". But the idea of "parenting effects" should not be equated, as the "nature" literature does, only with the direct effects upon the cognitive capacities and personality traits of parent-to-child behavior. A more fruitful concept of "parenting effects" would include the direct effects of parent-to-child crisis intervention (e.g., dealing with childhood depression, anorexia, drug use, teen pregnancy, etc.) which has little to do with affecting a child’s cognitive capacities or personality traits. Parenting effects must measure as well the teaching of information and skills (as opposed to the shaping of traits) that a parent can accomplish which significantly broaden the child’s range of adult choices. Finally, there are "indirect effects" of parenting behaviors that result from the parent’s control of a child’s social environments. This is a "nurture" factor that even the "nature" side agrees is substantial, but is reluctant to acknowledge as "parenting effects". If the concept of "parenting effects" was broadened in this way the research would of course become more complex, but the slice of an adolescent or adult’s life that is attributable to parental actions would become far greater.

The final complication involves the idea of "genetic effects". One need not limit the idea of "genetic effects" only to direct genotype-to-trait interactions as one would find with genotype-to-mild retardation. There are also environmental effects that are "induced" by genetic effects. Children whose genes supply musical giftedness are likely to have musical parents who create reinforcing musical environments (passive effects). Musically gifted children are likely to receive strong reinforcements from peers and others, creating environments that enhance their musical accomplishments (evocative effects). Such children are likely to seek out musical peers, thus creating environments that contribute to their musicality (active effects). Behavioral geneticists refer to these as "indirect genetic effects", effectively reassigning a slice of the "nurture" pie to the "nature" camp (Plomin 1990). Wright’s treatment of this issue is cursory. Social and behavioral researchers of all stripes and interests can learn a great deal from these contributions to the added complexity of nature vs. nurture as explanatory devices.

There is much more of interest in this volume including new estimates made possible by advanced ultrasound technologies of the frequency of twin conception, the "mystery of lost twins" in utero, conjectures that left-handed singletons are survivors of vanished twin pairs, and more. While preparing this review I had the pleasure of sharing dinner with parents of adult MZ twin girls. The material of this work made for interesting conversation testing its contents against their experiences. The book is recommended to general audiences.

John Mullen is Professor of Philosophy at Dowling College, Long Island. He is author of Hard Thinking: The Reintroduction of Logic into Everyday Life and Kierkegaard's Philosophy: Self-Deception and Cowardice in the Present Age.He is currently working on a book on ethical issues in the family.

To discuss this book or the review you have just read, join the Metapsychology Discussion E-Mail Group by going to this URL: http://www.onelist.com/subscribe/metapsy-discussion


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7800 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'


Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!


Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716