Are there mysterious, ghostly doubles of people, or also called doppelgängers, roaming the earth? The word “doppelgänger” originally derives from the German phrase meaning “double goer,” and the origin of the word is steeped in the world of the strange and supernatural. The myths and legends orbiting the doppelgänger phenomenon are varied. In some traditions they were considered to be shadow selves; ghostly twins that follow their owners around and which all of us possess, although they rarely make themselves known. These shadow beings were often said to be harbingers of bad luck, hardship, illness, disaster, and death, and it was never thought to be a good thing if one were to see their own doppelgänger. In other traditions, the doppelgänger is a supernatural entity such as a spirit or demon, which takes the form of a person for inscrutable purposes, and other tales describe them as a physical manifestation of a person’s spirit, a sort of extension of them given form in the physical world. I have written on doppelgängers before, on several occasions in fact, but there are so many more stories to tell. Is there anything to all of this, something beyond mere legends and folklore? According to some very strange reports, perhaps there is more to the doppelgänger than we can possibly comprehend.
There are a great many reports of people coming into contact with doppelgängers of close family, relatives or friends, a common theme in such accounts. One such account comes from Reddit user “Geobite,” who says that one day when he was little his own father’s doppelgänger came for a visit. It was a beautiful Sunday morning on an otherwise clear and sunny day, and at the time he and his mother were relaxing at home in their two-bedroom apartment. The doorbell rang, and taking a look out the big window that faced the doorway he could see that it was his father. It seemed pretty mundane at this point, but it would all turn very eerie very quickly, as the father was asleep in another room of the apartment. The witness says:
I checked the window and I saw my father ( so I thought) and I was going to the door to open it. When I was going to unlock the door, my mother pulls me away and screams at me to not open the door because I don’t know who it was. I told her I see my dad. She freaks out, goes to the window and checks and then checks the peephole. She started to get terrified and she says to go to the farthest room in the apartment and to not come out. She goes and wakes up my dad , my dad gets up angry and confused. We told him what we saw and the man was still knocking the door. My dad screams who is it. No answer, he said he will call the cops, the regular threats but nothing. We saw while my dad was busy screaming at him, that he was just standing still front of the door. So my mom took us to the farthest room from the door while my dad got ready to open the door with a metal bat. Once he did, the man was gone. My dad goes out looking everywhere around the apartment. The apartment door was a heavy metal door and always was heard when someone comes in and out but we heard nothing that morning nor nothing when my dad opened the door. We heard no footsteps either but my brother, my mother, and I saw that man that looked exactly like my father.
Another Reddit user who saw his own dad’s doppelgänger is called “Athenriel,” who says that he was only around 4 or 5 years old at the time of his own rather bizarre experience, but that it has stayed with him his whole life. At the time he clearly and vividly remembers playing with a toy in his room, a plastic character from the film Bug’s Life that he had gotten in a McDonald’s Happy Meal, when the door opened and he saw his father standing there in the doorway. At least, he thought it was his father, and he says of what happened next:
The door opened, and the person I saw just looked like my dad. I didn’t get to see my dad very often – he worked in road construction and would often only be home on the weekends due to distance – so I was excited to see him! I remember shouting “daddy, daddy, daddy!” trying to get his attention, and growing more and more annoyed as he completely ignored me, and just kept staring forward and walking, until he phased through the wall. As a small child, I didn’t know how to process what I had just seen. I wasn’t scared, but I was really confused. People can’t go through walls? I don’t recall anything else super strange happening in that house, other than recalling some nightmares/dreams I had (despite it being nearly 20 years later), along with an incident of a toy (a small rubbery Rudolph) constantly disappearing, which frustrated me since I really liked it. Of course, as an adult, the really creepy thing that’s stood out to me is that the wall this apparition walked through would have lead to my bedroom.
Next we have a reddit user who believes she saw the doppelgänger of her own husband right after they had gotten married and were living together in a small, one bedroom apartment. She explains that their room had a huge dresser situated next to a spacious walk-in closet, and it is this closet where she would see something strange one evening after they had gone to bed. She found herself waking up to the sight of her husband in that closet, but while this might sound fairly normal it would turn out to be anything but, and the witness says:
One night, I woke up all of a sudden. I was facing the walk in closet. I saw my husband in the middle of it, his back facing me, just looking around the closet. He was wearing the same clothes that he wore to bed. I thought it was really strange for him to walk into the closet, since none of his belongings were in there and plus it was in the middle of the night. I propped myself up and asked him what he was doing in my closet and to come back to bed. His face turned slightly, but just enough for me to see half of his cheek. I was really sleepy, so I turned back to bed and fell asleep. I’m not sure how much time had passed, but I woke up again to my husband getting into bed. I asked him why he was in the closet, and he told me he didn’t know what I was talking about, he just went to the washroom. We both fell back asleep, and I tried to continue the conversation in the morning. He swore he just went to the bathroom and it was no more than 1 minute. He thought I was definitely dreaming, but I know what I saw. That person in the closet was my husband or at least looked 100% like him. I can’t think of any logical explanation. Even if my husband had some reason to lie, I still can’t see how he could get to the middle of the closet without knocking anything over in the mess.
She says at this point she was unaware that her husband was still sleeping soundly right next to her. Oddly, when they moved to a new place she claims she would encounter this doppelgänger once again, this time appearing in the space they used as a den. She says that on this occasion she had been doing laundry in the adjacent laundry room when she saw whatever it was that looked like her husband, explaining:
While I was moving the clothes, I saw my husband walk into the den. It was as clear as day. I thought he was going to play some video games or use his computer. After I loaded all the clothes in the dryer, I walked back to the living room. I saw my husband sitting in the middle of the living room. I immediately asked him when he went back to the living room. He was really confused and said he hasn’t left his seat in the last 30 minutes. I told him I saw him walk into the den just a minute ago, how did he walk out of the den without me seeing him or hearing him? I know I saw him both times. Both times he appeared clearly in right of me.
Odd indeed. Switching things around is a wife who claims that her husband saw her doppelgänger. Reddit user “BossesWife” says that they live in an old, rural farmhouse that has enough strange phenomena going on as it is without adding mysterious doubles into the mix. One evening, her husband was out in the hallway and had quite the odd experience, of which she says:
Last night, I was in the bathtub. My husband came in the bathroom to wash his hands and went back out to do laundry. He was in the laundry room and looked through the kitchen and saw what he thought was me in the hallway, buck naked. He called my name and he said she turned her face toward him and gave a look like she didn’t know who he was. Then she walked a step behind a column and our son came out from the same column from the opposite way. Our son asked who my husband was talking to and said that he didn’t see me. My husband came into the bathroom where I was still in the tub. He made me swear that I hadn’t left the tub. He was very freaked out and he made us follow him from room to room the rest of the night and announce ourselves if we came into a room where he was.
This is similar to the Reddit user “mrscatlady25,” who claims that her boyfriend had seen her doppelgänger on more than one occasion. She explains of the strange incidents:
First time, we were hanging out at his house and I left when it got dark out. I woke up in the morning to a text, “Where did you go last night?” I immediately called him and asked what he was talking about, because he walked me out to my car when I left the night prior. He said that he woke up, to see me naked on the floor. He said that I looked around, not noticing him, and I said “How did I get here?” Then, hit my foot on his rocking chair on the way out. He said he thought it really happened cause the chair was still moving when I walked out of the room. He went into the hall after me, but thought I just wanted to sleep in the other spare room up there.. so he let me be. Next time, he was studying for school, he turned around and saw me sleeping in his bed. When he turned back to study, he remembered I left earlier that day. When he turned back around, I was gone. What does this mean? He also lived in a log cabin style house, in the middle of nowhere.
One wonders if this is perhaps a phenomenon linked to these places, like a sort of haunting, as many of them make mention of other paranormal phenomena having been experienced at the residence. One of these is the case of Reddit user “DotDotDotx3,” who at the time had moved into a modest house with her friend, Dakota, and her dog, a pit bull named Bubblez. This house is described as having a shed out back that was prone to inexplicable activity in the form of strange noises and knocking on walls, as well as causing a lot of agitation with the dog for no discernible reason. The witness says of the strange events that would unfold:
I’ve learned that every house has its bad spot, and this house has its shed. I don’t know what it is about that thing but it gives me the creeps. I tend to avoid it as much as possible. Three weeks into living here and I beging to notice strange knocking on the walls. Okay… old house… maybe the dog is wacking shit with her tail… Anyways, I tried to ignore it for the most part but you know… So a few more weeks go by and Dakota and I are playing games in my room. He gets up and says he’s going to the restroom so I pause the game and he leaves to do so. The bathroom is two the right of my room, which is in the basement, to the left is the stairs going up. So Dakota is in the restrrom and I’m waiting for him when I see him step into the doorway from the left. This confused me because, as I said earlier, the bathroom is to the right.
Instead of coming back into the room, Dakota glares at me and begins walking back towards the stairs after saying, “I need your help with something.” I get up and begin to follow him. Just as I see him walk up the stairs and out of view, the bathroom door opens behind me and Dakota asks me who the fuck just walked up the stairs. I panic and jump back down into the basement. I fill Dakota in on what happened and we search the house and find nothing. Dakota then calls me into the kitchin and shows me that the backdoor was open. Weird.
Days go by and at this point I feel unsafe in my house. I’m trying to get over it but I constantly feel like somebody is behind me. Yesterday was probably the strangest encounter. I was in the kitchen, loading the dishwasher, when Bubblez runs in with her fur all pointed. I know that this means the dog is on edge so I ask her what’s wrong. She goes to the backdoor and looks at me. She looked pissed. I open the door and I watch as she runs towards the shed. I decide to follow her because of her enraged behavior and damn near piss myself when I see her behind me walking in from the living room. I quickly close the backdoor and look out the window. Right next to the shed, where I last saw Bubblez, is Dakota. He looked extremely angry. His face terrified me so I yell for Dakota and he runs into the kitchen. I point out to the shed only to see that Dakota is gone. I don’t know what this is but I have the suspicious feeling that they are trying to lead me to that shed.
Another doppelgänger encounter seemingly tied to a house and its odd history is a report from Your Ghost Stories by a commenter calling herself “GlamGirl,” in the U.S. state of Virginia. At the time of the incident she was preparing for a party to celebrate her grandparents’ 50th anniversary along with her parents, two sisters, aunt, and her two young cousins. She explains what happened next thusly:
My grandparent’s house had a long ramp that goes out to the yard where the tent was. I was walking down the ramp and I saw my cousin Jonathan he was about nine at the time I looked at him and said “what are you doing brat” he just looked at me and smiled this evil smile and then ran back down the ramp to the tent. After I saw him I turned around because I forgot the gold glitter table scatter which I needed to bring to the tent. When I walked into the house my cousin came down the hall way with his game boy advanced in his hand getting a drink. I asked how did you get in here past me so fast, you just went into the tent. He told me I was stupid of course he is nine and he told me that he had not gone outside since he came to my grandparent’s house because he needed to get to whatever level on his game.
After this I thought well maybe I was just seeing things but my cousin has huge brown eyes I know that this boy was him there was no other young boy there as my family has a lot of girls. I also know for a fact that I saw him go down the ramp the table I got the gold glitter off of was just inside the door. I am 100% sure that it was not my cousin. When it was happening I wondered why when I called this boy who I thought was my cousin he did not say anything. My cousin would have a smart or at least a swear word to say to me. The look on his face was just so weird and kind of evil. I mean I will never forget it.
The interesting part here is that the witness would find out that this house had had a long history of this sort of thing happening, of which she says:
I also think it is important that I include that the house this happened to me in is where my grandparents live was my great grandparents they used this home for there escape from city life. My great grandmother HATED this house she would never go with my great grandfather when he wanted to get out of the city.
One time he convinced her to go and she was brushing her hair in the mirror in the bedroom in the mirror she saw my grandmother wearing a yellow nightgown she looked behind her and saw it in real time not just in the reflection she blinked and she was gone. My great grandmother called my grandmother right away the scary thing is that my grandmother was in Maryland when this happened and my great grandparent’s home was in Virginia there was no possible way she was there. My grandmother also said she never owned a yellow nightgown.
I just wonder if it is that house or just the individual people. I don’t know my grandparents still live in that home which is built on land that has great civil war history. I mean we always knew the home was active with paranormal happenings. I just wonder if anybody could offer some advice or explaining it.
In these sorts of cases are we looking at perhaps some sort of haunting, with the apparition taking the form of someone close to the witness? If so, why? Who knows? Perhaps even stranger and creepier than these cases of seeing the doppelgängers of loved ones are those people who have seen doppelgängers of themselves. One account of this comes from the site Exemplore, and concerns a woman who says this report came from a friend of hers named Dawn. According to Dawn, her mother one day saw a doppelgänger of herself out in the yard doing gardening, and the bizarre account is written as follows:
When Dawn and her two younger brothers were very small their Dad worked away from home. This wasn’t unusual and Moira (the Mum) was very used to it. Many years later she told Dawn the experience she’d had. One sunny summer afternoon she had finished playing with Dawn and her brothers outside and it was time for the youngest to have a nap. As she was coming into the house, the thought crossed her mind that she would maybe get some weeding finished later on. On going through to the sitting room to put the youngest child down to sleep, she looked out of the patio windows and stopped abruptly with shock! She could see herself kneeling down at a flower bed, weeding the garden. She was wearing the same clothes as she had on at present. Only one difference was noted, that the doppelgänger in the garden had it’s hair tied up in a bun. Moira’s hair was usually left long. One of the children then tugged at her to ask for a drink. When Moira looked back to the garden she couldn’t see anything. She told Dawn that she had been badly shaken by the episode and had telephoned her own Mum, (Dawn’s Gran), to come over for a while to sit with her. Thankfully, as she says, this only happened once.
Just about as surreal is a report from Reddit user “creeped_out31,” who also was startled to see his own doppelgänger as he was out picking up something to have for dinner.
I usually go through a back alley to get to the front of my house faster this night was no different, but to give you a picture it’s a back alley with houses on one side and a field on the other. Anyways I’m heading home and I take the back alley going 30km everything is good when suddenly a person steps in front of my view coming from the field side, he was about 5 maybe 10 feet away. So I slammed on my brakes so as not to hit the guy and I didn’t, I was sure of it but the guy wasn’t in my view I panicked a little but I put the car in park and got out to see and apologize for not seeing him earlier.
Like I said he wasn’t there, I walked out to the front of the car no dents looked under the vehicle and there was nothing there I moved back a couple steps to see if there was anyone in the field I called out but got no answer. So I brushed it off as much as one could and I turned around to head back into my car, that’s when I saw myself. Granted it was a shadow because he was standing right next to my door and I had the headlight aiming at me I was in the front of my vehicle. I asked are you alright i’m so sorry got no answer and the figure was just standing there, I said hello still no answer.
So I waved my hand saying yoohoo and he did the same he waved his hand but said nothing and it was freaky cause it was a mirror image of my hand motion, caught me of guard I stepped back and so did the shadow. It was to weird so I walked towards him and he did the same and as soon as he was in range of the light he was gone. No puff of smoke not a blur there was no one the blink of an eye type deal, I was not about to look around anymore I opened my door got in and drove back home. I still get goosebumps just thinking about it.
What are we looking at with such accounts? Are these hauntings or something else? Why should these entities appear as those people who are close to us, or even ourselves? Why should this be and what does it mean, if anything? Like many other paranormal phenomena it is impossible to tell, and going through such accounts it often feels like we are very much out of our depth, whirling around in the fringes of the weird. Whether actual doppelgängers exist in any paranormal sense at all or not, such very strange encounters continue to come in, eluding all answers.