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Entwined LivesReview - Entwined Lives
Twins and What They Tell Us About Human Behavior
by Nancy L. Segal
Dutton/Plume, 1999
Review by Ann Newman
Jul 31st 2000 (Volume 4, Issue 31)

Entwined Lives: Twins and What They Tell Us About Human Behavior is a study of twins that presents genetic and behavioral information that can be utilized by psychologists, medical and behavioral sciences as well as anyone interested in the debate of nature versus nurture. Nancy L. Segal, Ph.D., one of the world's leading researchers on twins and a twin herself, covers conventional areas of "twinning", identical and fraternal, as well as those areas rarely mentioned, twins reared apart, multiple birth twins (triplets or quadruplets, etc., with an identical twin pair among them, pseudo-twins (unrelated same age children raised together), twin births with different fathers, and a chapter on primate twins.

Twin comparisons provide excellent opportunities for study of genetic and environmental influence in human development. People often say that we are a product of our environment, our beliefs and behavior shaped by family and friends. Segal's studies in reared apart identical twins have proven this isn't true.

A fascinating subject, Segal takes us to the depths of human connection. She presents the intimate relationships between siblings who shared the womb, share genetic make up, and often go through life comparing themselves to their mirror image. She includes interesting tidbits such as birth order and intelligence, twins who marry twins and give birth to children who are both cousins and genetically full siblings, and statistics on the probability of twin births.

"Few singletons are unaffected by the many recent developments in our understanding of human behavior that derive from twin studies," says Segal. "Twin studies are not limited to physical or mental abilities, but address the origins of personality traits, social attitudes, medical conditions and religious interests."

A fundamental tool to a better understanding of human nature and its boundaries, twins and parents of twins will find reflections of their lives and answers to many questions within this book. A twin myself, and the foster parent of a rare primate twin, I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about myself and the statistics of twin births among primates.

Ann Newman is author of Images of America, Conway. Newman is founder of the Arkansas Writers Association, a professional organization established to promote the literature and work of Arkansas authors of all mediums.


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