‘We were treated like lab rats’
Three Identical Strangers took British director Tim Wardle five years to complete. The documentary follows the outcome of a sinister American experiment in which the triplets, Robert, Eddy and David, were deliberately separated from each other at birth and assigned to three different families. One was affluent, the second middle-class, and the third came from a workingclass area of New York.
The adoptions were carried out as part of a secret study designed by child psychoanalyst Peter Neubauer, who wanted to uncover the influences of genes and the environment in children’s upbringing. Each family was told nothing of the other identical siblings who were involved in the experiment; nor were they informed about the nature of the follow-up studies that Neubauer set in motion in order to keep tabs on his subjects.
The adoption of the boys was arranged by the now defunct Louise Wise Adoption Agency in New York, which was set up primarily to serve the city’s Jewish community, an involvement that was highlighted by the US journal Science earlier this year.
“The irony of a Jewish researcher and a Jewish adoption agency conducting a twin study after the atrocities waged against Jewish people in Nazi Germany is clear, and was perhaps the reason that Neubauer never published [the results of] the study.”
Several other sets of identical siblings were separated and used in the experiment. Many remain bitter
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Wardle and his subjects attempted to gain access to their files, but were able to see only heavily redacted versions of Neubauer’s study. Three Identical Strangers is released in the UK on 30 November