Friday, August 5, 2011


The word doppelganger is a German word that describes a ghost of a living person or any other physical double. This is why they are often just called “doubles.” 

The definition of doppelgangers has become muddled. But I will strive to simplify it here.

A doppelganger appears as a ghostly apparition or sometimes as a real flesh and blood person. Some cultures believe doubles can only be seen in dreams. But many people have seen them while awake. 

Doppelgangers are an exact replica of an original person. On the rare occasions when these doubles meet they are shocked by the other’s existence.

Doppelgangers or doubles more often than not are considered negative in nature. They are often associated with an evil or mischievous twin or they are considered a harbinger of death. Most stories that revolve around doubles are tales of darkness and woe. 

This belief is so prevalent that when the word doppelg√§nger is mentioned people cringe.  

My favorite story involving a doppelganger is not evil or woeful in nature.

I first came across this story in one of Dan Asfar’s books. I will tell it here from memory—for it has been some time since I read it. 

It involves a young girl who encounters another girl who is her exact twin. This twin always comes to her in times of trouble or when she is sad. The girl takes comfort from this. 

As the girl grows up her “twin” continues to appear in times of stress or need. The young woman draws strength from these encounters. 

As a young child she had at first questioned the presence of this twin—but as she grows older she finds that her life has been enriched by these encounters. 

She never mentions her “twin” to family, friends, or later to her husband and her own children.  

As she finds herself comforting her own mother who is about to die she breaks down and tells her mother about the unique encounters she has had her whole life. Her mother turns pale and admits to her that she had been born with a twin that had died at birth.

I love stories that have surprise endings. This story goes against the grain. It breaks the stereotype that all doppelgangers are negative. 

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