Last Updated on May 31, 2021 by Brandon Hall
When it comes to being an unsettling entity to cross, very few types come close to doppelgangers. Doppelgangers are ghosty twins of people who aren’t deceased, but rather, are still alive. Often associated with a haunted home, these strange beings come with a lot of different myths associated with them.
The definition alone seems pretty straightforward, but like with most other paranormal encounters, it’s not. Truth be told, it’s hard to tell what’s going on when you have a doppelganger in your life. Is it a ghost? A demon? Something else entirely? This guide will tell you the ins and outs of this strange being.
What Is A Doppelganger?
Doppelgangers are ghostly (or otherwise paranormal) “twins” of people who are alive and well. Taken from the German term for “twin walker,” it’s a type of shapeshifting paranormal entity who is an exact replica of a living, breathing human being.
Unlike most ghosts, doppelgangers are not confirmed to be ghosts since the people they mimic are still alive. Some believe them to be demonic entities, others believe them to be ghosts, while even more believe that they’re a category of paranormal creature all their own.
What Do Doppelgangers Do?
It all depends on the entity itself. Many doppelgangers simply behave the way that their human twin would, including doing things like having conversations with others or just walking through the house. Others are a little more sinister, glaring at family members or doing things that just don’t seem quite normal.
Doppelgangers can be both seen and heard by others in their proximity. To the unsuspecting individual, they don’t seem any different than their loved ones. They aren’t transparent, their voices (if heard) sound similar, and even the clothes they wear seem normal.
Are All Doppelgangers Visible?
Though most people associate doppelgangers with an identical appearance, not all doppelgangers are visible. Some just are disembodied voices that sound identical to someone living in their home.
Can Doppelgangers Speak?
In most cases, doppelgangers do seem to have the ability to speak. When they do speak, they don’t sound any different than the people they’re mimicking. That said, they don’t always talk. It all depends on the power and strength of the entity in question.
Multiple accounts show that doppelgangers are not only capable of speech, but can hold fully lucid and intelligent conversations. Poet Percey Bysshe Shelley claimed to have seen his own doppelganger multiple times, with his most alarming moment being a time when the ghostly twin asked him, “How long do you mean to be content?”
Can Doppelgangers Pick Up Objects?
Though doppelgangers can speak and even make themselves visible, they still have some limitations. One of the most commonly cited by witnesses is that they usually don’t seem to have the ability to pick up objects.
One witness thought he was having a conversation with his wife, but things took a turn for the strange when he noticed that the doppelganger didn’t seem to want to pick up food or prepare her breakfast. Knowing that prepping food was a ritual for her at that time of day, he made a remark about it.
His “wife” gave a worried look, and walked into another room. Just as that happened, his real wife came in the front door saying that she just took out the garbage. Ever since then, he started to see the apparition more frequently.
What Are Some Of The Beliefs Regarding Doppelgangers?
Ghosts, in general, tend to have a lot of myths dealing with their existence. Doppelgangers are no exception to the rule. Doppelgangers are known for having multiple superstitions involving their appearance and interactions with them. Here are some of the stranger beliefs about them….
What Are The Superstitions Behind Seeing Your Own Doppelganger?
In many parts of the world, seeing your own ghostly doppelganger is a warning of your own death. This is doubly true if you make the decision to attack your own double, or if you see your own doppelganger in a position reminiscent of death.
Catherine the Great of Russia reportedly saw her doppelganger sitting on her throne and told guards to shoot the “imposter.” Guards fired their guns at the figure, which quickly disappeared. Shortly after, Catherine herself died.
Though death doesn’t always follow seeing your own doppelganger, there is a general belief that having this chilling experience is an omen of bad luck or tragedy. While it may not be lethal all the time, seeing your double definitely doesn’t bode well for you.
What Happens If Others See Your Doppelganger?
The common belief surrounding others seeing your ghostly twin is that it’s a warning that something bad will befall you. Though the belief is fairly widespread, there have been plenty of doppelganger sightings where nothing befell the mimicked individual. So, this is a belief you might want to take with a grain of salt.
What Are Beliefs About Doppelgangers And Mirrors?
There seem to be several rumors swirling around the topic of doppelgangers and mirrors. More specifically, there are two primary rumors that deal with this topic.
The most common belief is that doppelgangers that appear as real, living people “in the flesh” cannot be seen in mirrors–much like vampires. So, if you notice that your friend doesn’t have a reflection, it could be a doppelganger.
That being said, there have been multiple cases where people claimed to see doppelgangers in mirrors but unable to see them “in person.” To a point, it seems like doppelgangers can only be visible in one realm or the other.
What Happens If A Doppelganger Gives You Advice?
There’s a definite theme of “evil twin” surrounding doppelgangers that is heavily played into when it comes to heeding advice they offer. Much like listening to a “friend” who doesn’t have your best interests in mind, listening to the advice given by a doppelganger is a bad idea.
Doppelgangers generally do not have peoples’ best interests in mind and seem to prefer causing chaos and fear in peoples’ lives. Giving people bad advice is often the easiest way for them to make a person’s life turn upside-down.
Author Guy de Maupassant was allegedly dictated a novel by his own doppelganger, and then published it as his own work. The story, The Horla, tells a tale of a man whose sanity was slowly consumed by an evil spirit. Not too long after de Maupassant wrote the story, his own sanity started to eke away. Coincidence? Probably not.
What Do Doppelgangers Want?
This is definitely the million-dollar question that everyone wishes they knew. With many other entities, it’s fairly clear what they want out of people. Some ghosts have unfinished business with the living, while others are just there, reliving what was once their daily lives. With demons, the end goal seems to be tormenting people.
With doppelgangers, it’s hard to tell what they want. For the most part, they just seem to enjoy mimicking people and stirring up trouble. Some also seem to get a rise out of scaring people who see them, while others just seem to do their own thing for no reason at all.
That being said, there are many cases of doppelgangers with more sinister intentions.
Tales Of Doppelgangers Luring People To Their Deaths
Perhaps the most alarming tales of doppelgangers involve stories where a person’s doppelganger leads loved ones into dangerous situations. In most cases, the strange double tries to lure unsuspecting witnesses into nearby woods.
The story of these lurings all pan out the same way. People see what appears to be a friend or a loved one walking into the woods. They follow them, curious as to why they may be walking into the forest. Then, they look back and see the real loved one calling them over asking them what they’re doing.
Of course, there are variations in the story, but the variations are relatively minor. Sometimes, the person isn’t a human being, but a pet they own. Other times, they don’t see the loved one, but rather, hear them calling for help. Regardless, the outcome is always the same.
Stories like these have been around since the dawn of time, and truthfully, it’s not entirely certain that traditional doppelgangers are to blame here. Many cultures believe a vengeful forest spirit may be to blame.
How To Tell If Someone Is A Doppelganger
If you have been starting to “see doubles,” then there may be times when you aren’t sure whether the person you’re seeing is really who you think they are. These signs are what witnesses most commonly cite as signs of a doppelganger:
- The “person” don’t speak or lift up objects. Though there have been cases where doppelgangers are powerful enough to do things like most people can, the vast majority of them don’t have the ability to speak or move objects on their own.
- You know that the person they’re mimicking isn’t around. If you know for a fact that your friend is overseas, yet you see them right in front of you, something is up.
- They don’t quite look right. Many reports of doppelgangers mention that there’s always something slightly different about the twin. Oftentimes, they have darker eyes, or look sickly, or are wearing clothes they don’t own. If something doesn’t quite look right, it could be a doppelganger.
- They don’t act right. Doppelgangers are often described as emotionless, odd, or sinister in their behavior.
- Something doesn’t feel normal or good about the interaction. Sometimes you really can’t tell that you’re dealing with a doppelganger except for the fact that you feel very uneasy about the interaction. Trust your gut!