Stress IS Inherited

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised to discover that your spine reflects your personality, or that today’s stress was passed down from a previous generation. Consider.

The Minnesota Twin Study

In 1979, Thomas Bouchard of the University of Minnesota began a study of identical twins separated since birth.

Identical twins come from a single egg, fertilized by a single sperm and split after the egg starts to develop. Identical twins are closer to being genetically identical than any other humans. What differences/similarities would you see with identical twins separated at birth, who were raised by different families in different environments, that later got together? Could any assumptions about their inherited genetics be made?

Bouchard’s data set will probably never be available again. Today, adoption agencies as a rule do not split apart identical twins. The project started when Bouchard saw reports of a set of identical twins that were separated when they were just a few weeks old, and then brought back together many years later. The twins were James Lewis & James Springer.

These were a few of their similarities:

  • As a child, each had a pet named Toy.
  • Both married a woman named Linda, and both divorced.
  • Both spent time working in law enforcement.
  • They had identical drinking & smoking habits.
  • Both chewed their fingernails down.
  • Their sons were named James Alan Lewis & James Allan Springer.

Another set of identical twins that Bouchard studied were Oskar and Jack. They were born in Trinidad and, again, separated not long after birth. Oskar was taken to Germany and raised as a Catholic by his grandmother, and also as a Nazi youth. Jack, on the other hand, stayed in the Caribbean and was raised under the Jewish faith by his father and even went on an Israeli kibbutz in his childhood.

Years later, when they got together, some similarities were immediately apparent when they met and began to talk at the airport:

  • Both wore wire-rimmed glasses.
  • Both had mustaches.
  • Both wore 2-pocket shirts with epaulets.
  • Both liked spicy foods & sweet liqueurs.
  • Both were absent-minded.
  • Both would fall asleep in front of the TV.
  • Both flushed the toilet before using it.
  • Both kept rubber bands on their wrists.
  • Both read magazines from back to front.
  • Both would dip buttered toast in their coffee.

In many of the sets of twins Bouchard studied, he found similar:

  • mannerisms
  • temperaments
  • skills
  • laughter
  • vocational interests
  • postures
  • taste in clothing
  • choice of names

In short, it appeared to be personality where identical twins most resembled each other.

What the Minnesota Twin Study Suggests

Having studied behavior and its relationship to the spine for over 20 years, it was interesting to review the Minnesota twin study and its conclusion that twins separated at birth were really similar psychologically.

What we have found in our studies that the spinal column (whether it’s more left, right, forward, or backward) tells us a lot about a person’s personality as well. We too have observed twins and it’s interesting to note that in twins who did grow up together, their profiles are actually different. For example, we’ve seen it where one would be more logical (left curve) while the other would be more emotional (right curve). One would be more backward in curve (a state of withdrawal) and the other would be more forward in curve (assertive and aggressive).

This is not to say that they were any less genetically predisposed to be similar, just that their own unique need to have a separate identity superseded that inherited quality. Being together made them want to stand apart by pulling from a different generational source to emulate. An undeniable resolve provided a way to still have nature beat nurture… just in an inadvertent way.

In our work we help people to understand the difference between their own behavior and inherited patterns of behavior. It’s important for people to be able to spot what they have learned versus what they have inherited so that they can come up with their own authentic reality. I think that it’s important to make a list of every behavior that is occurring in your life. At that point, ask yourself where did you learn that behavior from within your family. Make a choice to start living your life from your own perspective. Choose to come from a loving experience with self. I believe that loving yourself is the best place to start to develop and strengthen your identity.

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