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Scientists separated triplets at birth for controversial experiment and they had no idea

Scientists separated triplets at birth for controversial experiment and they had no idea

The controversial study took place in the 1960s

A controversial experiment conducted in the 1960s saw scientists separate triplets at birth and monitor them separately throughout their childhoods.

If you've seen the shocking Netflix documentary Three Identical Strangers, you might be familiar with the story of Edward Galland, David Kellman, and Robert Shafran - three brothers who had no idea the others existed until a chance encounter years later.

They weren't the only siblings to be separated at birth, as psychiatrist Dr. Peter Neubauer sought to determine the effects of 'nature vs. nurture' on childhood development.

To see how the children developed differently, he separated twins and triplets and allowed them to be adopted by different families, with Kellman, Galland and Shafran given to a working-class family, a middle-class family and an upper-middle class family, respectively.

The study, conducted in partnership with an adoption agency, took place in secret, but researchers visited the boys every year for the first 10 years of their lives to monitor how they grew up.

Not even their adopted families knew that they had brothers, with researcher Samuel Abrams, who worked with Neubauer, claiming this secrecy was in part for 'ethical reasons'.

Identical triplets Edward Galland, David Kellman, and Robert Shafran were separated at birth.

"Once the placements were made, for ethical reasons, the agency could tell neither the adoptive parents nor the children of the existence of a twin, lest that knowledge impair the family-child bonding that was expected to evolve and is recognized as so necessary for growth and development," Abrams wrote in a paper about the study.

During their visits to the children, researchers observed them playing, interviewed family members and gave the children IQ tests to compare their results.

Though the triplets did not initially know of each other's existence, Kellman is confident the brothers suffered from separation anxiety while growing up.

Speaking to The New York Post, he said: "Those who were studying us saw there was a problem happening. And they could have helped. That’s the thing we’re most angry about. They could have helped . . . and didn’t."

It wasn't until they were 19 that the brothers found out about each other, when Shafran started attending Sullivan Country Community College near New York.

The brothers were reunited when they were 19, all being unaware of one another's existance.

There, students came up to him calling him 'Eddy' before another student realised that they were in fact two different people.

Assuming they were twins, Shafran and Galland were even more surprised to learn about their other brother after their story appeared in a newspaper.

The brothers - who became inseparable from the moment of meeting - went on to rise to nationwide fame thanks to their story, with them taking part in multiple televised interviews and even opening a New York City restaurant together - the Triplets Roumanian Steakhouse.

However, all three men suffered with mental health issues and Galland sadly took his own life in 1995.

Neubauer is reported to have shown no remorse for his experiment, though psychiatrists have not published the results of the controversial study.

If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call Samaritans for free on their anonymous 24-hour phone line on 116 123

Featured Image Credit: Neon

Topics: TV and Film, Science