Abigail and Brittany Hensel

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Abigail and Brittany Hensel

#1  Postby jez9999 » Mar 20, 2011 11:43 pm

So, this is a relatively old story but I didn't see it mentioned on these boards so I thought I'd point it out.

Abigail and Brittany Hensel are conjoined twins - but they're of an incredibly rare kind:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkKWApOAG2g
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8706880357624199406
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abigail_and_Brittany_Hensel

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(nope, not a Photoshop)
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They share the lower half of their body; it fuses at the small intestine (there are 2 stomachs in the body). How a Y-shaped small intestine (which connects to both stomachs) formed is beyond me; you can just about understand the fusing of 2 bodies but the human body didn't evolve to have a Y-shaped small intestine because there isn't usually 2 stomachs so it doesn't seem like the kind of 'modification' that would develop. Hum.

The level of co-ordination is incredible. They have a shared diaphragm so they must breathe in tandem, speak exactly in tandem or one at a time. In order to walk, ride a bike, swin, or drive (only in America!!!) they need incredible co-ordination between the two. There seems to be some kind of psychological link to allow them to do this because they also seem to finish each others' sentences or occasionally say stuff together in chorus, which is more than uncanny; there's some psychological communication going on there.

Annoyingly, but perhaps understandably, they want as few tests done as possible, but it would be interesting to see how this psychological link worked. As for their desire to have a 'normal life', though... I'm afraid I think their family has brought them up in an uber-protected environment with unrealistic expectations. They're incredibly unusual and there is no way they are going to have a normal life. The better way to do things would be to get them to accept that as early on as possible.

Only about 6 of this kind of conjoined twins has ever been born, most die in early childhood, and these ones are the only ones living today.
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Re: Abigail and Brittany Hensel

#2  Postby Varangian » Mar 21, 2011 1:10 am

I've been rather fascinated by them ever since I read an article about them when they were about 10 years old.
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Re: Abigail and Brittany Hensel

#3  Postby Mer » Sep 27, 2011 2:26 am

Not to sound creepy (i'm female, if that helps), but since learning about them and seeing their video on youtube, i've wondered how theyll deal with relationships and sexuality. If one likes a boy and wants to make out with him, what will the other one do while thst's happening? Read a book? Or would they both be attracted to the same guy maybe, and so he'd date both of them? What about anatomywise-they have one vagina-does sexual stimulation affect both of them equally? Would they both have an orgasm at the same time? It's just the trippiest thing to think about. My hope for them is that when they get out in the world and are able to stretch their wings a bit, they can learn what works for them, and one day they eBoth can have a successful, loving relationship that works for them both.
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Re: Abigail and Brittany Hensel

#4  Postby Grace » Oct 20, 2011 10:22 am

They have one male friend that likes them both. To me, that seems to be the only natural solution for a relationship in this unique situation. Traditional male/female bonding is probably unrealistic. Insisting on a traditional male/female relationship may be psychologically harmful. I think it's wonderful that nature always finds a way to work itself out. People will need to back off on this one and let nature take its course.
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Re: Abigail and Brittany Hensel

#5  Postby Rachel Bronwyn » Oct 20, 2011 11:11 am

Watching them type or play baseball is unreal. They don't need to communicate or even think in order to coordinate their actions. They just do. Swinging a baseball bat or running is something they can do with every bit as much ease as anyone who is in control of both arms and legs. When one is typing an instant message to a friend they use both hands despite one of those hands belonging to their sister. What's mind-blowing is they learnt skills involving coordination like clapping and walking at the same speed as other kids. You ask them how they accomplish these things and they say "I don't know" or "I just do" or "It just happens".

Beyond their unique body, they're really kind, clever ladies to listen to, which is so important.

BC Women's Hospital in Vancouver was the location for the birth of a pair of conjained twins a few years ago. The whole story was sad. They're an extreme case of craniopagus twins. They're conjoined at the top, back and side of their heads. Despite being capable of walking, it does a lot of harm due to the angle their upper body is held at thanks to the connection at their heads. Within a year of life the smaller, weaker twin's heart was pumping to a much larger extent than her sisters so the bigger twin required surgery in order to kick her heart into gear and give her tiny sister's heart a rest. Now the little one is struggling with sleep apnea and stops breathing for up to twenty-seconds in her sleep which she required surgery for. They share a thalamus. Visual cortex signals are recieved by the brain of the child who isn't looking at whatever the other is, resulting in that child seeing the sights of their sibling.

Their mom was maybe twenty-one when they were born and already had multiple children. Within a couple years of their birth, she had another. Who knows about Dad. They're basically being raised by their grandmother, who doesn't have money either. Right to Life gave their mom something like $5,000 prior to their birth. $5,000 doesn't get you anywhere with special needs kids. I sincerely hope that contract with Discovery and National Geographic is treating them well.

It's interesting stuff but, unlike the Hensel girls, I see these kids spending most of their lives in surgery and recovery. I sincerely hope I'm wrong.
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Re: Abigail and Brittany Hensel

#6  Postby Scot Dutchy » Dec 26, 2011 1:51 pm

:coffee:
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Re: Abigail and Brittany Hensel

#7  Postby bil345durham! » Jun 10, 2019 7:49 pm

Ok. Here's my rational skeptical take on the whole situation. I have watched every documentary on these cute, lively girls that has ever been made. I wish the best for them (only, always) and think they have more courage, determination, and drive than most of us who walk around like fuzzy zombies and think the world owes us a living. Nothing but good things to say about them. No mean-spiritedness here.

But, here's my comment. I have noticed in the documentaries that each will sometimes say the same sentence, word for word, simultaneously. Sometimes, one will start a sentence and they both will finish it simultaneously. This tells me that, despite their denials to the contrary (which I have ultimate sympathy for) and despite it being "politically incorrect", that on SOME LEVEL their brains are working as ONE. That tells me that they are either: 1) sharing thoughts, 2) one of them is dominating the thought process and probably dominating everything and controlling both mouths, at least some of the time, or 3) really freaky coincidences have happened multiple times in multiple documentaries.

I know the twins claim to be completely separate individuals with separate this, that, and the other, and I fully respect that and would never question or challenge it. I think the girls are amazing to a level that most of us will never attain. They maintain a positive spirit and can-do attitude in the face of an incredible challenge that would cause most of us to collapse in defeat. They are, in a word, amazing.

BUT, it doesn't change the fact that AT LEAST SOME OF THE TIME they are either sharing the same thought (EXACTLY, word for word), or MORE LIKELY one of them is controlling the whole being.

I suspect there is a dominant twin who can SOME OF THE TIME, at least, take control of the whole person. I'm NOT SAYING this is always the case. I think thought sharing is far less likely, almost mystical in nature.

Any other opinions on this?

Sorry, I'm a skeptical rationalist, so your mamsy-pamsy BS about them thinking alike because they are conjoined for all time is not going to fly with me to explain SO MANY instances of simultaneous sentences and finishing of sentences, word for word. Not going to accept any mamsy pamsy answers here. Be rational, please!
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Re: Abigail and Brittany Hensel

#8  Postby NineBerry » Jun 11, 2019 5:07 pm

I have two nieces that are two years apart. And they still sometimes say the same stuff at the same time when asked a question.
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Re: Abigail and Brittany Hensel

#9  Postby collecemall » Jun 12, 2019 5:41 am

I don't understand why this is such a mystery to anyone. I have close friends that we can finish each other's sentences etc. Imagine spending EVERY SINGLE MIN you've ever lived touching someone with almost identical DNA to you. It's not shocking that they are in tune with each other. Because they have to be. To some degree their nervous systems might even be entwined. Because they had this from birth their brains adapted to all the physical things yours did growing up. It didn't know any other "normal" and our brains are incredibly flexible. Especially early in life. They ARE incredible but I don't think there's any crazy explanation for their behaviors.
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Re: Abigail and Brittany Hensel

#10  Postby Cito di Pense » Jun 12, 2019 7:05 am

collecemall wrote:I don't understand why this is such a mystery to anyone. I have close friends that we can finish each other's sentences etc. Imagine spending EVERY SINGLE MIN you've ever lived touching someone with almost identical DNA to you. It's not shocking that they are in tune with each other. Because they have to be. To some degree their nervous systems might even be entwined. Because they had this from birth their brains adapted to all the physical things yours did growing up. It didn't know any other "normal" and our brains are incredibly flexible. Especially early in life. They ARE incredible but I don't think there's any crazy explanation for their behaviors.


Then that's an insight into the role that varying environment and experience have on individuality. Where we take that depends a lot on how much individuality signifies to us as, er, individuals, and how we embody that in how we express our thoughts.

Of course, one direction one can take this is to try to merge with the kosmic karma koala kollective konsciousnessness.
Хлопнут без некролога. -- Серге́й Па́влович Королёв

Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
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Re: Abigail and Brittany Hensel

#11  Postby Spearthrower » Jun 12, 2019 11:05 am

bil345durham! wrote:Sorry, I'm a skeptical rationalist, so your mamsy-pamsy BS about them thinking alike because they are conjoined for all time is not going to fly with me to explain SO MANY instances of simultaneous sentences and finishing of sentences, word for word. Not going to accept any mamsy pamsy answers here. Be rational, please!



Dear Mr Durham, I honestly, genuinely believe that the first phrase of your sentence is contradicted by the rest of the paragraph, and by the alternative suggestion you have proposed.

I genuinely think that a rational skeptical approach would not have you positing that 2 brains are 1 entity, and appealing to the mere fact that they express themselves similarly is a good reason to invoke such an explanation.

Even close friends frequently finish each other sentences, know how each other will respond, and it comes about by familiarity and experience, by having spent a lot of time together. And these 2 ladies have spent *all* their time together, never apart at any point in their entire lives.

So my take would be that there are assertions and there are credentials, and that being rational is a method, not an order. Parsimony suggests that the least complex explanation here is fairly banal, and the notion that these 2 individuals are somehow 1 intellectual entity is far from parsimonious as it requires us to forgo essentially all we know about brains, cognition, and discrete entities.
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Re: Abigail and Brittany Hensel

#12  Postby Spearthrower » Jun 12, 2019 11:06 am

BUT, it doesn't change the fact that AT LEAST SOME OF THE TIME they are either sharing the same thought (EXACTLY, word for word), or MORE LIKELY one of them is controlling the whole being.


Consequently, would you be able to furnish me with a biological mechanism by which this could operate?
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