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Twin Telepathy: Best Evidence


True stories and fascinating experiments that reveal the telepathic connection between twins

ONE SPRING DAY in 2009, 15-year-old Gemma Houghton was suddenly struck with the strong feeling that her twin sister Leanne was in trouble. Gemma hurried to the bathroom, where she knew Leanne was taking a bath and found her sister submerged, unconscious and turning blue. Leanna is an epileptic and had suffered a seizure in the tub. Gemma pulled her sister from the tub, administered CPR and revived her, saving her life. "I got this sudden feeling to check on her. It was like a voice telling me 'your sister needs you'," Gemma later told reporters. "She was under the water. At first I thought she was washing her hair or playing a trick, but when I lifted her head out I saw she had turned blue. I knew she'd had a fit." Had Gemma not been compelled by that feeling to check on her sister, Leanne almost certainly would have drowned.

This story of the telepathic Houghton twins made news in March, 2009, and it's one more anecdotal account of the psychic connection that is said to exist between many twins, especially identical twins. The Houghton sisters happen to be fraternal twins, but their mother says they are "inseparable and share an uncanny bond." A survey conducted by Dr. Lynne Cherkas, a genetic analyst at the department for twin research at King's College London, showed that one in five identical twins said they had experience some form of telepathy, and one in ten fraternal twins reported the phenomenon.

Although a telepathic connection between twins is not universal, as Dr. Cherkas' survey reveals, it is common enough to serve as some of the best evidence for the reality of telepathy among humans, and has provided researchers with a good way to study the phenomenon.

Guy Lyon Playfair has done extensive research in the field of twin telepathy, and has much of his work in his book Twin Telepathy: The Psychic Connection. In an article for Paranormalia, Playfair comments that the Houghton event is certainly not the first time that twin telepathy may have saved a life. "I know of at least three other examples, one of which I investigated at first-hand," he says. "This would suggest that the scientific community should take rather more interest in it than it yet has."


Much of the information we have about twin telepathy comes from the spontaneous experiences reported by the twins themselves. The article Twin Telepathy provides these anecdotes:

  • Two male twins had different areas of interest: one played soccer and the other took guitar lessons. After a few months, however, the soccer-playing twin could play the guitar nearly as well as his brother without ever having taken a lesson. A study of the boys also said that they had had "limited interaction" with each other during the time they were pursuing these interests.
  • While shopping, a man in Texas was forced to sit down due to a stabbing pain in his chest. He later learned that his twin brother in New York was having a heart attack at the same time.
  • A young girl had an accident with her bicycle and broke her ankle. Her twin sister developed swelling in the same uninjured ankle.

In some cases, one twin will know about something that happened to the other twin when such knowledge was clearly impossible.

  • Paula Wombwell, a teacher and mother of identical twin girls recounts an unexplained event when they were about four years old. One twin, Heather was with Paula in the classroom while the other twin, Catherine was in the gymnasium on another floor. Suddenly, Paula heard Catherine crying downstairs, and Heather declared that it was because a certain person had just run over her with a scooter. There was no way Heather could have seen what happened. Sure enough, when Paula asked Catherine about what had happened she confirmed that that certain person had run over her with a scooter.
  • At Twin Connections, a website that celebrates "the mysterious bond between twins" and collects stories from twins, we find this experience: "I am a mother of identical twin boys," writes Aiya. "Gabriel and Ethan just turned 5 this year and are in kindergarten. My twin story happened when they were 4. My mother wanted to spend some time with them, but she was never able to handle both of them at the same time. We decided to let Gabriel go for a visit for three days and then Ethan would go for three days. Ethan and I were driving in the car on our way to make the switch; he was sitting in his car seat as quiet as can be just looking out the window, when he tells me, 'Mom, tell Gabriel to get his clothes on.' I looked at him and told him Gabriel was with grandma and he wasn't here. He told me, 'Just tell him mom. He needs to get his clothes on.' So I called my mom out of curiosity and asked her if she was having a hard time getting Gabriel dressed, and she said yes, they were having an argument because Gabriel didn't want to get dressed because it was too cold and he wanted to stay in his jammies."

Next page: Experiments with Twins

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