February 23, 2024

Twins separated as part of psychiatric experiment

New York women separated at birth without informing adoptive parents
Paula Bernstein and Elyse ScheinTwo American women have
discovered a dark secret behind their adoption in the late 1960s.
Identical twins Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein were put up for
adoption at birth, and deliberately separated as part of an
experiment in the effects of nature versus nurture. They were born in
New York and offered up for adoption by their schizophrenic mother.
At the time, the psychiatrist at the adoption agency, Viola Bernard,
believed that identical twins would develop as sturdier individuals
if they were raised separately — "a completely off-the-wall
theory", in Bernstein’s view. She persuaded the adoption agency
to send the twins to different homes without informing the adoptive
parents or the children. The study, conducted by Peter Neubauer, a
psychiatrist at New York University, involved separating five pairs
of twins and one set of triplets. 

Bernstein and Schein
have published an account of their upbringing and relationship in a
new book, Identical Strangers.
Psychologist Thomas Bouchard, of the Minnesota Center for Twin and
Adoption Research, says that such a study is unthinkable nowadays,
but that ethical standards were different in the mid-20th century.
The 1960s are long, long ago by bioethical standards, it seems. ~
Chronicle, Dec 6;
York, Oct 14