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Home / Entertainment / Three Identical Strangers Documentary Is the shocking story of triplets disconnected at birth

Three Identical Strangers Documentary Is the shocking story of triplets disconnected at birth



"Perhaps what is so convincing about the history of the reunited twins is the implicit suggestion that it could happen to anyone," Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright noted in his 1997 book [TwinsandAndWhatYouTellWirewithWhereWe. "It feeds the general imagination that each of us could have a clone, a doppelganger, someone who is not only a human mirror, but also an ideal companion, someone who understands me perfectly, almost perfect because he is me, It's not just the sense of identity that excites us, it's the difference, the fantasy of a monozygotic twin is a projection of ourselves that leads another life, finds other opportunities, chooses different careers, and sleeps with other spouses "An identical twin could experience the world and come back to tell about possible decisions."

Reunited twins, especially identical twins, are compelling to scientists for the same reasons: They provide a unique opportunity to gain insight into science ancient question of nature versus diet, genes versus environment and with increasing understanding of the importance of epigenetics k the question of how these two factors interact. If identical people have grown up in different environments from different parents, what can that tell us about the degree to which our behavior, personality, health and intelligence are innate or acquired? Among the conclusions of one of the most famous studies of separated twins, the Minnesota Study of Twins Torn Apart: Identical siblings grew up independently of each other are roughly similar to those who grew up together. In other words, nature makes a fairly strong case for itself.

In the canon of the famously reunited Gemini, there are some iconic, touchstone examples: the Jim twins, brothers separated as babies who went on independently, to a terrifyingly similar level build life; Oskar and Jack parted after six months, the former became a member of the Hitler Youth in Nazi Germany, the latter a Trinidadian Jew. More recently, we learned that the Colombian brothers were accidentally trafficked to the hospital nursery, so that two pairs of identical twins grew up as two apparently brotherly, unrelated couples.

Then there are the triplets Shafran / Galland / Kellman, who were once notorious owners and now the subject of an excellent new documentary, Tim Wardle Sundance's award-winning Three Identical Strangers . In 1

980, Bobby Shafran, an incoming student at Sullivan County Community College in Sheldrake, New York, came to the campus for an unusually friendly reception. It was as if the strangers wandering about in his dorm already knew him. In fact, they had taken him for a former classmate: Eddy Galland, who shared more than a passing resemblance to Shafran. They had the same face, the same body, the same manners, the same birthday; both were accepted; and both were housed by their families from the same adoption agency: New York's Louise Wise Services, which was now closed, then an excellent facility for Jewish families seeking Jewish children. They were twins, the boys suspected, reunited after 19 years. Her story was splashed through the newspapers. So much so that in Queens, David Kellman, another curly-haired, barrel-clad, 19-year-old adoptee – also born July 12 – soon starred at his reflection in the New York Post . What at first looked like a story of reunited twins suddenly became an even greater one: triplets separated at birth, grown within a radius of a hundred miles of each other, without noticing each other.

"The three were wrestling like puppies on the ground," remembers Kellman's aunt at the boy's first meeting. "It was the most incredible thing, they belonged together." The first part of Three Identical Strangers zooms in with the same juicy, juvenile energy. The triplets were the toast of the news media of human interest. They appeared on talk shows and made their uncanny similarities known: all three smoked Marlboros; All three were high school wrestlers; All three liked older women. At Cheers and in Susan (they are the ones who looked at a very young Madonna on the streets of Soho) they shot cameos. They celebrated in the glamorous New York club scene of the 1980s, became roommates in a neglected Manhattan bachelor house, and eventually became business associates, opening a hip, cheesy restaurant called Triplets Roumanian Steak House a few blocks from the onramp to the Holland Tunnel. ("His dining room is the kind of brickwork, blond wood contemporary room where you expect free range chicken pieces in raspberry vinegar," praised The Washington Post in 1988, "but the menu is the kind of old-fashioned Eastern European series that Declared war on your arteries and massaged your soul. "

About half way through Wardle's documentary, the manic energy of the first act of the Triple takes a dive." From the time we first met … until later. " There was nothing that could divide us, "remembers a contemporary middle-aged Shafran ominously, and in the mid-'90s, the slight intimacy that the triplets had assumed began to fade. In 1995, Lawrence Wright, attending a [19459006NewYork's story he was later to translate into the previously mentioned Twins book, The Brothers, was posted on an article s, the reference took on a secret study conducted by a psychologist named Dr. Peter Neubauer in collaboration with Louise Wise Services. The agency had a policy of separating twins and other multiples for adoption (based on a recommendation from another psychologist). Neubauer, according to Wright, took the opportunity to launch the ultimate study of nature versus food: not investigating separate twins like other scientists until after they rediscovered each other, mostly in adulthood, but in the course of their development as supposedly Singleton children , The adoption agency would give him subjects to eat, but the whole operation depended on a silence: parents could not know that their new offspring had identical siblings, nor the kind of social experiment in which their children unknowingly participated (nor could they know), as the documentary later suggests, that they themselves were also subjects). They were pressured to record their new babies in a study on the development of adopted children, who were allowed to be regularly monitored by a team of visiting researchers who operated on false pretenses.

"Despite the controversy, the study obviously does not violate any rules that required consent for human experiments," reported Newsday in 1997, shortly after the project was revealed. "At the time there were no such rules for behavioral studies, and there were no laws prohibiting the separation of twins." As I watched Three Identical Strangers I remembered Errol Morris' recent Netflix docudrama series Wormwood another slow-burning thriller about conspiracy and coverup. The refrain of the film, written off Hamlet – "Something's rotten in the state of Denmark" – works just as well here, though much of the power of Wardle's documentary film lies in our inability to identify the exact source of ours [19659002] More than half a century after the birth of the triplets, Neubauer's methods raise serious ethical questions, including the integrity of junior scientists, who make monthly home visits to each family, knowing the existence and closeness of their subjects' siblings. (Wardle interviews such a research assistant whose lack of remorse is worrying.) The dark history of the twin studies favored by Nazi eugenics and in the US by people with racist political agendas does not help, especially given the fact that all Children were affected were Jews (such as Neubauer, who had fled from his native Austria during the Second World War). Nor does Neubauer have refused to outline its specific goals, and to date has never published its findings. He died in 2008, leaving instructions to keep his study notes locked up in an archive in Yale until 2065. Exactly what he researched, why and what he discovered remains a mystery, even after the publicity produced by the documentary was the result Publishing parts of his records. They do not contain any formal conclusions and leave much of the text behind, presumably to protect the privacy of other study participants, some of whom are probably still in the dark about being born twins.

I was concerned when I looked back at published articles after the triplet reunification in 1980 by an anecdote reported by People magazine: Shortly after their story was published, the brothers became pro-documentary, Neubauer or completely ignored his project – contacted by Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr., the senior scientist behind the aforementioned Minnesota Study of Twins. Bouchard had hoped to recruit her as a participant in his own study (it is unclear whether Neubauer's activities were known to him). Her answer, communicated by her new hired agent, "What's in it for her?"

The same year that Neubauer's brothers learned about the deeds, Galland was tragically killed after a series of manic-depressive episodes. Several years later, Triplets, the restaurant, closed its doors. The film implies that the relationship between the two surviving brothers has also cooled. Towards the end of the documentary, we finally see Shafran and Kellman in front of the camera together; they seem less like siblings, more like slightly uncomfortable acquaintances, old war comrades with a trauma between them too big to be ignored.

Wardle mixes details slowly, with a look at the suspense, like a psycho-thriller. The story of the triplets has already been reported, but the director digs Neubauer some important clues. I will kick easily so as not to spoil these revelations. Suffice to say, triplets or the choice to study them are of little importance: not the fact that many of the birthing mothers of children in the study had complex psychiatric stories, nor the composition and class status of families in which brothers were adopted.

Was Galland's deadly battle with mental illness a function of his childhood experience as the son of, we're told, a disciplinary father who did not quite know what to make of his emotional, high-spirited son? Was it a function of the trauma to discover that his childhood had been essentially constructed for science? Or was it a function of a deeper trauma sustained when he was separated from his brothers at such a young age?

And what made Shafran and Kellman more resilient than their genetically identical siblings? Would Neubauer's findings illuminate these questions? We may never know, or at least not for almost 50 years. But in the great debate between nature and education (which according to current scientific standards is a false dichotomy), Wardle's film or at least the people living in it seem to favor education. The differences in the threes may have been more important than their similarities. "We found the way we were the same and we emphasized them," stresses Shafran. All three guys were wrestlers, but they all had the same stocky, muscular, heavily-nude body that was good for the sport. They all smoked Marlboros, but by that time Marlboro was the most purchased cigarette brand in the US. They all favor older women, but studies have actually shown that partners are one of the few areas where identical twins are different.

No matter how tempting we are, no one crosses the line between equality and equality, "Wright wrote in 1997. What can the experience of another person – even a genetic clone – really tell about ourselves? There are no definitive answers. We leave David Kellman and Bobby Shafran in the bardo: somewhere between ignorance and understanding, between strangers and brothers.


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