From Academic Kids

For other uses of the word Doppelgänger please see Doppelgänger (disambiguation).

A doppelgänger is the ghostly double of a living person, adapted from German Doppelgänger (look-alike). The word comes from doppel meaning "double" and gänger translated as "goer". The term has, in the vernacular, come to refer to any double of a person, most commonly in reference to a so-called evil twin, or to bilocation. Alternatively, the word is used to describe a phenomenon where you catch your own image out of the corner of your eye. In some mythologies, seeing one's own doppelgänger is an omen of death. A doppelgänger seen by friends or relatives of a person may sometime bring bad luck, omen or is an indication of an approaching illness or health problem.

The Doppelgängers of folklore cast no shadow and no reflection in a mirror or in water. They are supposed to provide advice to the person they shadow, but this advice could be misleading or malicious. They could also, in rare instances, plant ideas in their victim's mind or appear before friends and relatives, causing confusion.

Doppelgängers appear in a variety of science fiction and fantasy works, in which they are a type of shapeshifter that mimics a particular person or species for some typically nefarious reason.


Famous reports of the Doppelgänger phenomenon

  • Emilie Sagée was a schoolteacher in the nineteenth century whose Doppelgänger's public appearances were recorded by Robert Dale Owen after being reported to him by Julie von Güldenstubbe.
  • Guy de Maupassant recorded his own Doppelgänger experiences in his story Lui.
  • Percy Bysse Shelley claimed to have met his Doppelgänger foreboding his own death.
  • John Donne, the English metaphysical poet, apparently met his wife's Doppelgänger in Paris, foreboding the death of his yet unborn daughter.
  • At the end of World War II, it is rumored that Soviet forces found a dead body very similar to Adolf Hitler when they entered Berlin.

Emilie Sagée

Robert Dale Owen was responsible for writing down the singular case of Emilie Sagée. He was told this anecdote by Julie von Güldenstubbe, a Latvian aristocrat. Von Güldenstubbe reported that in the year 184546, at the age of 13, she witnessed, along with audiences of between 13 and 42 children, her 32-year-old French teacher Sagée bilocate, in broad daylight, inside her school (Pensionat von Neuwelcke). The actions of Sagée's Doppelgänger included:

  • Mimicking writing and eating, but with nothing in its hands.
  • Moving independently of Sagée, and remaining motionless while she moved.
  • Appearing to be in full health while Sagée was badly ill.

Apparently also, the Doppelgänger exerted resistance to the touch, but was non-physical (two girls passed through the Doppelgänger's body).

The doppelgänger phenomenon in literature and film

See also



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