“Oh my God! You look exactly like my friend, beloved relative or other important person from my life?” Has anyone ever told you that? Have you ever seen a duplicate vision of yourself in a dream, or you randomly spotted someone on the street that could be your identical twin?
There is a simple explanation for this. Many people believe that each one of us has a doppleganger in this universe. This person resembles us in every possible way, from hair color to mannerisms to the gate of our walk. Some people find the idea of dopplegangers to be comforting, reassuring and mysterious, while others are weary and suspicious, even just while thinking about their own doppleganger.
The concept of people having a doppleganger is not a new one. Through history they have been called by many other names such as: evil twins, subjective doubles, paradoxical anomalies, clones and alter egos.
The word doppleganger itself is of German origin and literally means “double goer.” More modern English translations define it more as a “look alike.” In essence, a doppleganger is basically a second or alternate physical version of you who resides in the same time plane and general geography as the original you.
In some folkloric narratives, seeing yourself could indicate a tragic future or bad fortune. Often called a harbinger or foreshadowing of death, the doppleganger had a negative connotation and a sinister reputation. In these stories, the person who witnessed themselves would usually perish soon after seeing their doppleganger. This is the reason why when some people see their doppleganger, they feel as though it may not bode well for their health and future prospects.
Alternately, other doppleganger enthusiasts disagree with this theory. These people think seeing a doppleganger is a sign of great fortune and of wonderful things to come. In psychological terms, seeing your identical twin could mean that you are ready to come to terms with something, as in, you are now ready to face yourself.
It is speculated that in times of great emotional trauma or physical trauma, in the case of severe head injuries, the opposite occurs where instead of facing yourself, you figuratively split into two beings. This is a coping mechanism that creates an emotional distance from the events around the victim and prevents these events from further entering into and infiltrating their minds and hearts.
This splitting off of the two selves is often examined in substance abuse and schizophrenia cases in which a doppleganger is thought to be taking action, while the patient is simply watching their twin and observing the action as it unfolds. As in, they are a spectator and are not controlling or participating in their own life. Only the doppleganger is acting.
Overall, the idea that the self can have two parts is very interesting. But, are dopplegangers something to be feared or celebrated? Or, are we really just looking to find ourselves? It’s all up to you to decide!