A doppelgänger is a distinct double of a person that can be seen. It's often thought of as a bad omen or evil entity, but is often used casually as a description of someone who closely resembles you.
There may actually be a medical reason for seeing doppelgängers in real life.
- With electrical stimulation to the temporoparietal (that's the side of the brain, towards the back) part of the brain, a woman could distinctly feel the presence of a sinister double copying her actions. (See full article in NatureNews)
- Syndrome of subjective doubles, or Syndrome of Christodoulou is an unusual delusional syndrome whereby a person believes a doppelgänger who looks like them but acts differently, is out in the world leading a separate life. Often it is caused by mental illness or neurological problems in the right temporal lobe of the brain. There may be some overlap with Capgras delusion ("Are You My Mother?"), which I've blogged about.
In literature, doppelgängers as fantasty elements have been Edgar Allen Poe's short story "William Wilson"and Dostoyevsky's short story "The Double: A Peterson Poem."
Anyone see the movie Black Swan? Natalie Portman's doppelgänger should have won best supporting actress!
Have any of you read a good novel lately portraying a doppelgänger?