Tuesday, 13 November 2007

On reflection

I'm taking a break from the wretched ballet exam world today to go cruising round cyberspace looking for research on anger in triplets. We have a face-to-face meeting next week with the educational psychologist; this I set up after the miserable time I had with Tiger in Oxford when I thought the world might end within 24 hours if I didn't do something.

Since then, the violence of Tiger's rages has subsided, and her normal anger comes and goes, and usually one of us, but at this point, mostly Squirrel, becomes Most Hated Person. Actually, with the incidence of violence declining, I'm starting to feel like a big fat fraud and an over-fussy mummy who's high-maintenance in the anxiety department, and who should just put it all down to 'kids fighting'. Probably just like my mum did.

But anyway, that bit of self knowledge doesn't stop me cruising. And Oh Great. Am I glad to find this in my ongoing research into Tiger rages. Not.

Am J Psychiatry 120:528-532, December 1963
© 1963 American Psychiatric Association

SCHIZOPHRENIA IN TRIPLETS: A FAMILY STUDY

DONALD G. LANGSLEY M.D., THOMAS P. BURTON M.D., MIRA GRISWOLD M.S.W., HANK WALZER M.S.W., , and RONALD B. SPINKA M.D.1 1 Dept. of Psychiatry, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, Colorado.

We report a case of schizophrenia in triplets [...] A genetic hypothesis by itself is felt not to account for the differences in the manifestations of the illness. Various psychogenetic hypotheses including such areas as confusion of identity, disturbances in primary object relations, social isolation, pathological communications and psychopathology of role models for identification all derive some support from the family study. The identification of one girl with mother and the other with father is felt to account for behavior differences before and during the psychosis.

Now on a scale of 1 to 10, my anxiety about Tiger's rages suddenly leaps to 11. So I'm going to get things clear in my head.

I'm sure that Squirrel, Shark and Tiger know they are different from each other, even though Shark and Squirrel are identical twins and Tiger's the fraternal. I play the 'Ask three artists' game. The point of this game (and we've played it since year dot) is that three artists will come up with three different interpretations of the same thing. If I suggest everyone draw a tree, then I encourage three different versions of the tree, and praise every different way of looking at things. We've always encouraged each child to be different too, and do different things from each other. Hence Tiger's violin lessons from age 4. I don't think we were paying for her to become the next Maxim Wengerov.

Next up, object relations. If I'm right, this means broadly getting what you want. Well Tiger has always known fairly clearly what she wants - and she's got a fairly wide set of persuasive techniques. Thumping her sisters is one strategy we're trying to be rid of.

Right, social isolation. I may explode. Monday Italian class we dropped because I couldn't fit it in the week with so many social demands, lessons, workshops, visits and outings with family and friends. Mondays is local group meet for crafts and play; Tuesday there are art and French classes; Wednesday's full group meetings; Thursday's gym and trampoline lessons, followed by drama group and RSPB meetings. Friday, we are free! Ha! We might get some work done at home! Or let's go out and meet some friends! Pah!

Pathological communication? Well, honestly I would say Tiger sounds normal to me for a seven- year old. She justifies her routines in particular ways, but partly because this gives her the security of understanding and interpreting her behaviour, rather than because of a compulsive or pathological condition. She doesn't have any repetitive or compulsive actions or behaviours. Unlike Grit who has set herself the crazy pathological requirement of keeping a bloody daily diary for a year.

And association with one or the other of us? Well there is no doubt that sometimes Dig occupies Most Favoured Parent (MFP) status, and then if he shouts, it's me who's MFP. And then if Dig spends more one-to-one time with her, guess what? Dig becomes MFP once more.

Role models? Daddy's got an international career, mother's a coke addict. (I'm joking.) Actually I would say we are both pretty bright and articulate and ambitious parents with strong ideas about life and living. And I'm the pretty one.

And some days I think we get down to explaining Tiger's rages with plain sibling rivalry and jealousy.

Perhaps I should cancel that meeting.

6 comments:

Allie said...

No wisdom to share WRT Triplets. But, I too have read things that just made worries a whole lot worse and then ended up sure that it was (family catch phrase) "perfectly normal and nothing to worry about." Every now and then I decide I'm off to buy a whole load of stuff on sibling relationships but then I decide it'll probably be trite nonsense and I'll comfort myself by thinking about sibling pairs who get on far worse than ours do.

Michelle said...

I think you should go as you've booked it and you can then be officially reassured that you didn't need it.

Also if you don't go, the next day there'll be an outburst and you'll regret cancelling.

Em said...

I agree about going now its booked. The person you see might be as much use as a chocolate teapot, but at least you'll know that, rather than the wondering next time Tiger is unmanagable. On the other hand they might be an amazing oracle able to give you magic coping strategies, and ways to enable Tiger to enjoy herself more (assuming that she isn't enjoying herself when she is like that)

I don't know about triplets, but I know from my twins, that I have one that sounds very similar indeed to Tiger, can be violent and aggressive, can scream a lot, wants things to happen in a certain way (even though often we have no idea before hand what that way is and often don't until a long time after she has calmed down). I don't think this a symptom of being twins though, even though they are fraternal, I've always been really conscious (maybe even too much so) about them being different people with different needs. I think it is more to do with her personality, the way she is. Also polarised I think by her sister's laid-backness.

grit said...

thank you people for your thoughtful comments. michelle you are right, tiger is not going to stop exploding, although i can see the character of it change. do you think, em, that one twin helps 'define' the other? that one has to find a personality that the other one isn't? oh dear, i'm searching again. and i think allie that i will stop looking for abnormality stories! so atm on balance, i think we'll go...

Em said...

Yes, you know, I think there is an element of one defining the other. I think that is sort of what I meant by one polarising the others behaviour. I'm not sure which way round it is though, that E seems much 'worse' because R is so placid. Or that R is much 'worse' to make up for Rs placidness. Not sure that entirely makes sense, but hope you get what I mean. Still don't think its a twin thing though, as I think you can get similar behaviour with all siblings. Actually, probably with any people living together.

Michelle said...

My (3 years younger) sister insisted on attending a different secondary school to me so she could have her own identity. She got sick of people saying she was my sister and expecting her to be like me. It was a particular problem for her as I was stronger academically when she was more an arty person.

Funny thing is, we went completely different routes at uni and so on yet we ended up with remarkably similar jobs in marketing though in different markets (me fmcg and Gen furniture).