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Inter-twin Relationships and Mental Health

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 February 2012

Hanna Ebeling*
Affiliation:
Clinic of Child Psychiatry, Department of Paediatrics, University and University Hospital of Oulu, Oulu, Finland. hanna.ebeling@oulu.fi
Tuulikki Porkka
Affiliation:
Clinic of Child Psychiatry, Department of Paediatrics, University and University Hospital of Oulu, Oulu, Finland.
Varpu Penninkilampi-Kerola
Affiliation:
Clinic of Child Psychiatry, Department of Paediatrics, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland, and Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Finland.
Eija Berg
Affiliation:
Department of Radiology, University Hospital of Tampere,Tampere, Finland.
Sari Järvi
Affiliation:
Clinic of Child Psychiatry, Central Hospital of Seinäjoki, Seinäjoki, Finland.
Irma Moilanen
Affiliation:
Clinic of Child Psychiatry, Department of Paediatrics, University and University Hospital of Oulu, Oulu, Finland.
*
*Address for correspondence: Hanna Ebeling, MD, Ph.D, Clinic of Child Psychiatry, Department of Paediatrics University and University Hospital of Oulu, PO Box 26, Fin-OYS 90029, Oulu Finland.

Abstract

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We evaluated dominance-submissiveness between co-twins and its relationship to mental health in a cohort study of 419 twins followed from pregnancy to 22–30 years of age. Dominance-submissiveness between co-twins was assessed from three separate perspectives: physical dominance, psychological dominance, and verbal dominance. Depressive, nervous, and psychosomatic symptoms were analyzed in different twin groups. In the physical domain, males were more commonly dominant than females at school age and in adulthood. Before and at school age, girls were more dominant than boys in the psychological and verbal domains, as well as in total dominance. These differences disappeared in adulthood, and 81% of adult twins felt themselves equal to their co-twin in total dominance. Submissiveness in the psychological domain seemed to be associated with increased depressiveness, nervous complaints and psychosomatic symptoms in males of male-female twin pairs. Verbally submissive males in same-sex twin pairs had more depression and psychosomatic symptoms. Among females of same-sex twin pairs, submissiveness in the psychological domain was most clearly associated with depressive symptoms, whereas psychological or verbal dominance-submissiveness among females from male-female twin pairs was not associated with symptoms. Psychologically dominant males and females of same-sex twin pairs expressed greater nervousness than did their co-twins. We conclude that being submissive, especially in the psychological domain, to a female twin partner seems to be stressful, whereas it is easier, especially for females, to be submissive to a male twin partner.

Type
Xth European Conference on Developmental Psychology
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2003
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