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Incest between twins

Incest between twins or twincest is a subclass of sibling incest and includes both heterosexual and homosexual relationships.[1]


Sexual arousal from a twin sister or sister in general is referred to as sororilagnia or sorophilia, while a male analogous term is fratrilagnia,[2] and a more general term is sibcest.[3]

In Asian cultureEdit

In traditional Balinese culture,[when?] it was common for a set of twins of the opposite sex to marry each other, since it was assumed that they'd had sex in utero. The standard anthropological explanation of this custom is based in explications of the conflicts between descent and affinity in Balinese society.[4]

Incest was commonplace in Southeast Asian creation myths which prominently featured twin or sibling couples. In these stories, the brother usually wooed and wed his sister, who bore his child or children, but on discovering that they are siblings, they are often (but not always) forced to part.[5]

In European cultureEdit

Twin incest is a prominent feature in ancient Germanic mythology, and its modern manifestations, such as the relationship between Siegmund and Sieglinde in Richard Wagner's Die Walküre, and a feature in some Greek mythology, such as the story of Byblis and Kaunos. There are strong parallels between the Germanic portrayals of twin incest and those of the Balinese Ramayana, and some scholars have speculated an early Indo-European link.[6]

The theme also appears in English literature, such as the incest between the twins Polydore and Urania in Delarivier Manley's The New Atlantis.[7]

In a 1983 review of the scholarly literature on twin homosexuality and twin incest, Ray Bixler concluded that "most same-sex homosexual twins, if reared with their co-twins, do not attempt or even want to seduce them in adulthood".[8] His study drew on Edvard Westermarck's hypothesis that sexual desire is generally absent in relationships between members of a nuclear family.[9]

One case of incest between twins, in which twins who were adopted by separate families as babies later married without knowing they were brother and sister, was mentioned in a House of Lords debate on the Human Fertility and Embryology Bill in January 2008. According to the charity Adults Affected by Adoption, there had been other cases of this sort that had involved siblings.[10] The story was widely publicised in the British press,[11] although its truthfulness was called into question.[12]

In modern literatureEdit

The fantasy fiction series A Song of Ice and Fire describes a secret relationship between Jaime and Cersei Lannister, who are twins. Within the setting of the books, various historical characters from House Targaryen were married to their siblings.


  1. ^ Wagner, Roy (2001). An Anthropology of the Subject: Holographic Worldview in New Guinea and its meaning and significance for the world of anthropology. p. 53.
  2. ^ Downey, Dara. "The Gothic and the Grotesque in the Novels of Carson McCullers." The Palgrave Handbook of the Southern Gothic. Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2016. 365-377.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Boon, James A. (1990). Affinities and Extremes: Crisscrossing the Bittersweet Ethnology of East Indies History, Hindu-Balinese Culture and Indo-European Culture. Chicago University Press. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-226-06463-5.
  5. ^ Errington, Atkinson, Shelley, Jane Monnig (1990). Power and Difference: Gender in Island Southeast Asia. Stanford University Press. p. 227. ISBN 0-8047-1781-8.
  6. ^ Boon, James A. (1990). Affinities and Extremes: Crisscrossing the Bittersweet Ethnology of East Indies History, Hindu-Balinese Culture and Indo-European Culture. Chicago University Press. p. 107. ISBN 978-0-226-06463-5.
  7. ^ Pollak, Ellen (2003). Incest and the English Novel, 1684-1814. The Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-8018-7204-4.
  8. ^ Bixler, Ray H. (August 1983). "Homosexual Twin Incest Avoidance". The Journal of Sex Research. 19 (3): 296–302. doi:10.1080/00224498309551190. JSTOR 3812342.
  9. ^ Westermarck, Edvard (1922). The History of Human Marriage, Vol. II. New York: Allerton, p. 193.
  10. ^ "Parted-at-birth twins 'married'". BBC News. 2008-01-11. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
  11. ^ "Shock for the married couple who discovered they are twins separated". The Evening Standard. 2008-01-11. Retrieved 2016-07-19.
  12. ^ Henley, Jon (2008-01-15). "Did a pair of twins really get married by mistake?". Retrieved 2008-05-18.