Doppelgänger is the paranormal phenomenon of a ghostly entity with the resemblance to a real live person, who appears spontaneously from the spirit world, the sight of which is said to be an ominous or auspicious omen or a harbinger of death. In addition, a doppelgänger can also be a corporeal double conjured into the physical world by a technique called bilocation in which in a person can appear in two places at once. Doppelgängers are also known as evil twin, spirit doubles, wraith, or astral projection which is the hypothetical ability to project ones’ consciousness outside of their body.
The word doppelgänger is of Germanic origins meaning “double-walker or double-goer.” The lore on doppelgängers has been prevalent throughout our history, and whether you know it or not odds are you have either; heard of, read about, or seen stories about it on television at some point in your life. So, what does this paranormal phenomenon known as doppelgänger mean? Where did it even come from and why are we still talking about it today? Well, in order to answer these questions we need to examine our history. The folklore on these supernatural clones goes far back into antiquity. Various ancient cultures wrote about their own versions of doppelgängers. However, all these stories share a ubiquitous similarity, the perception of the duel forces between good and evil. Whether, the doppelgänger is a corporeal or an incorporeal entity the premise is almost always the same – this double is a dubious entity. In Sumerian folklore, there are the twins Inanna (goddess of love and war) the evil twin and Utu (sun god of truth and justice) the good twin. Mesopotamian’s twins; Gilgamesh (the good twin) and Enkidu (the evil twin), the Zoroastrian culture has the good twin known as Ahura Mazda and the evil twin or as they called it ‘destructive spirit’ Angra Mainyu. The Greeks had the twins Heracles and Iphicles and Apollo (sun god) and Artemis (moon goddess). Even the Romans had twins as part of
their mythology, Romulus and Remus. Romulus kills Remus so obviously we would consider Romulus to be the evil twin. Doesn’t the story of Romulus and Remus sound similar to the biblical story about the brothers Cain and Abel – albeit they weren’t exactly twins but you get the gist. Twins have always been a source of fascination to us and it’s probably due to their rareness and our inability to comprehend their unique bond. Furthermore, we see this concept of the forces of good versus evil or a dichotomous universe throughout mankind’s history as if our brains have been wired to believe that there must be symmetry or a balance to our Doppelgängers don’t just show up in our pop culture today but it’s also found its way to our scientific world under a new guise we know as psychology. In psychological terms today, doppelgänger is simply a person with a ‘dissociative identity disorders’ also known as multiple or split personality disorder. People with dissociative disorders unconsciously refer to themselves as a different person and this so called other person or alter ego displays complex individual behavioral identities; in other words – two unique personalities, in one body. Psychology theorizes that this other personality represents the person’s subconscious secret desires and impulses and they conjure up this other personality in order to act upon their desires while also separating themselves from there evil deeds. We all have dark thoughts or secret desires deep down but most of don’t act upon them. But what if one day we do act on them? What would you do if you were told that you had committed a crime, yet knew you were nowhere near the scene of the crime? How would you feel and howcould you explain it? I apologize if this is starting to sound like a psychological or theoretical article. This is not my intention. In fact, when I first heard of this strange phenomenon known as doppelgänger, I blew it off – it was of no interest to me. It was too far, fetched just plain pseudo-science or just plain science fiction.
However, a few years ago while doing research for a philosophy class, I happened to come across an article on Johan Wolfgang Von Goethe a German writer, poet, politician and even a scientist – a genius and one of the pioneers of the era of Enlightenment. Goethe was obviously had a realistic and scientific approach to his work and his everyday life. So, when I read about his own personal experience with his own doppelgänger I was intrigued. Here’s a brief summary on Johan Wolfgang Von Goethe’s doppelgänger experience:
"Goethe was riding his horse on a dirt road in Drusenheim, France on his way to visit a friend. At one point on his journey he noticed another man on horseback coming from the opposite direction, which was not unusual. However, once Goethe was about to pass the other rider he noticed that the rider looked identical to himself, except he was wearing different clothes and was riding a different horse. As odd as this experience was – Goethe was not frightened instead he felt a sense of peace, and he soon forgot the experience. That is until, eight years later when he was on his way back from home on horseback from visiting the same friend as before, when he experienced déjà vu. Then it dawned on him – he was wearing the same outfit and riding the same horse as his doppelgänger, whom he encountered on the same dirt road eight years prior."
Now, there are tons of other famous stories of doppelgängers online, so if you’re interested than you should definitely browse around. However, I have read many of those stories and as I said before the Goethe story is the most interesting to me. The reason why is because the story puts a different spin on the doppelgänger lore. In Goethe’s story the doppelgänger phenomena can be explained by a branch of science known as Quantum Theory. I know, what you’re thinking – ‘more science,’ but most of us paranormal investigators believe that there needs to be a healthy balance between the paranormal and science. (There is that dichotomy I was talking about earlier, our brains always needs a symmetrical world.) As soon as I read about Goethe’s doppelgänger experience I realized it was similar to what Quantum physicist call a “distortion in the space time continuum.” According to Albert Einstein, in his Theory of General Relativity space-time itself is like a fabric and can therefore be bent, warped and distorted. Einstein, made to possibility of other dimensions plausible and gave way to today’s multiverse theory, which has been gaining real scientific ground in the past decades. Most theoretical physicist who support the multiverse theory believe that there could be up to 11 different dimensions and it is possible for these other dimensions to occasionally leak into one another. This could explain Goethe’s doppelgänger experience and perhaps many other doppelgänger or paranormal phenomenon. Well, this is just my theory.
In conclusion, no one can say for certain what causes the doppelgänger
phenomena because, there is no real scientific proof for it, yet for thousands of
years these dubious entities have lived through ancient times and into our
modernized world. Its expression in folktales which have been passed down
through generations. Resurrecting itself in our cultures through different guiles, whether it’s supernatural or our psychological need of a symmetry in a perverse
way to control the balance of good and evil. Not just in our world but in us, our visceral fear that there is some evil born in each of us crouching in the shadow of every human soul. We may never know the real nature of the doppelgänger phenomenon but, I think we can be certain that it’s not going to go away anytime soon.