This recent article by the Guardian, “Why do identical twins end up leading such different lives?” adds yet more weight to the argument that even though our genes may predispose us to certain traits, and therefore give us strengths and vulnerabilities, our epigenetic makeup, i.e., the pattern by which certain genes are expressed or not through of our interactions with the world, will make a huge contribution to the building of our personality.
It is very frequent that people who come to see me for consultations at my Harley Street psychotherapy practice will wonder – and question – why it is that they should be affected by events in their early life while their siblings, colleagues or classmates seem to be entirely unaffected. They explain, for example, that they should not have developed a need for depression counselling following their parents’ relationship problems because their siblings went on to lead what they call “normal lives” and they feel they didn’t.
I am constantly reminded of how different people will respons differently to certain events, even if they share all of their genetic makeup.
This article is a useful reminder that we are psychologically and physically shaped by our entirely individual responses to life’s events. It is also a reminder that psychotherapy helps people get to the heart of this process and harness their resources so that they can take advantage of their nature to get on top of their history.