Vivienne Lewin is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. She trained at the London Centre for Psychotherapy. She was a Training Therapist and Supervisor for the British Psychotherapy Foundation (formerly of the London Centre for Psychotherapy). Vivienne was made a Fellow of the London Centre for Psychotherapy in recognition of her work on the development and modernisation of the training at, and structure of, London Centre for Psychotherapy. Vivienne worked in private practice for about 30 years and has now retired from most clinical work. She continues to do consultations and short-term work with twins, and parents or family of twins. Vivienne taught on numerous courses at the London Centre for Psychotherapy and then the British Psychotherapy Foundation, and was involved in management in various capacities. She played a number of key roles in the London Centre for Psychotherapy and British Psychanalytic Council and in the development of her professional body (The London Centre for Psychotherapy) and the British Psychoanalytic Council Ethical committees.
She has published two books and several papers on her work with twins (see her website, details below, for a list of her publications).
Twins are siblings of a particular kind with their own unique dynamics that begin before birth and that create an indelible twinship. The prenatal and early postnatal preverbal somatic experiences between twins will endure in the twin relationship as a binding unconscious sensate memory for both of them. Melanie Klein wrote about essential loneliness, a longing to be known, longing for a soulmate, a twin of oneself who will provide perfect understanding. This perfect soulmate, would be so much part of the self that it would represent no threat of invasion of the self, experienced as a violation of the self. This longing creates a persistent fascination with twins that is based on the deep unconscious factors within ourselves that we project onto twins. While the phantasy is that twins experience such oneness without discord or judgement, the reality is of course very different. The otherness of the other twin is both a safety net, and a threat and frustration. The thin-skinned relationship between the twins enables the belief that the twinship will alleviate the essential loneliness of each of them, while the thick skin around the pair may isolate them from external mature containment/understanding. The ideas of a developmental sequence of the self from dyad through triad to group is disrupted in twins who are born into a group of four. Perhaps the ideas of developmental sequences do not stand up in reality, and instead we have developmental input from multiple sources all the time, each source having particular characteristics. The earliest somatic experiences, laying as they do, the foundation of deep, indelible sensate, proto-mental, non-verbal memories closely linked with the sense of the self and inexpressible by ordinary conscious means of communication, would be one source. Through development, we create a personal narrative about who we are, a sense of identity. The narrative is developed through “dreamwork” (Bion, Ogden, Ferro), and is an expression of the unknowable unconscious processes presented in a manageable way, that is manageable to both the teller and the listener. But the longing to be known is always only partially satisfied. For twins, the presence of the other twin is an essential part of identity for each of them.