Sunday, October 04, 2009

Doppelgängers

This weekend I started and finished the book, "Seeking Spirits : the Lost Cases of The Atlantic Paranormal Society" by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson. If you've read my previous posts about the Syfy show Ghost Hunters (or if you are just a fan of the show), you will know that Jason and Grant are the lead investigators of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS), whose cases are the focus of Ghost Hunters. The book is a fairly light read, so I easily finished it in a few hours. I highly recommend it--I couldn't put it down once I started it. Jason and Grant describe all sorts of cases, from demonic encounters to living ghosts replaying past events, to an old woman with dementia who forgot that she called them and threatened them with a frying pan after inviting them into her living room. They describe "human" hauntings, inhuman hauntings, and residual hauntings. But the one case that still has me scratching my head after reading the book was the one about the doppelgänger.

Doppelgängers are described by Wikipedia as a "sinister type of bilocation". One literally sees their double, or others who know them see their double. Traditionally, these are associated with bad luck or death. Supposedly, if friends or relatives see the doppelgänger, it means sickness or danger to the living person. If a person sees their own doppelgänger, it's supposed to mean their death. In neuropsychology, the doppelgänger phenomenon is supposedly explained by a failure of the left temporoparietal junction of the brain. In experiments, the failure of this part of the brain has led to the hallucination that there is a "copy" of the sufferer nearby. But none of this explains what happens in the story.

In the story told by Jason and Grant, they are called to a case by a man who thinks his wife is losing her mind--every time he tells her something, she swears he's never told her. He begins writing down exactly what he tells her, and the date and time. Every time she denies he's told her any of it, and gets miffed at the idea that she needs psychological help. Something occurs that makes him wonder if something paranormal isn't going on, so he calls TAPS. Jason and Grant quickly discover that there are 2 identical "women" in the house, even though both the husband and wife have a hard time accepting this. They try to bring the women together, but when they are just about to, the doppelgänger gets antsy, and takes off for another room, where she totally vanishes. After TAPS's visit and investigation, the doppelgänger stops bothering them, and is never seen again. The spirit could be spoken to just like a regular human being, and would answer, but never interacted with anything--it would never touch anything in the house.

The first and most obvious thought is that it's a hoax and the woman has a twin. But the woman is only seen for about 30 seconds at a time, and when Grant "corners" her in a room--thinking he can finally bring the real and fake woman together--the woman gets shaky, and turns and opens a door in the room to leave. But the "room" she enters is a clothes closet--there's nowhere for her to go. And upon immediate investigation, no one is in the clothes closet. Given how shaken up the couple was at discovering the doppelgänger (the "real" woman refused to believe anything was going on at all at first, and the husband was skeptical when told), it seems unlikely that it was a hoax--especially since the case was never intended to be publicized.

If we can assume it's not a hoax--then what the hell is it? Clearly this is not a failure of the temporoparietal junction--unless it failed in all 4 people involved. That would be logical if only one person was seeing the doppelgänger. If you look at the superstitions, the woman was not sick, or in danger--nor did she die. So, if you're a believer in that idea, that doesn't wash either. Why in the world--or how in the world--would a perfect double of someone appear in their house? Jason and Grant don't have the answer; neither do I. Anyone else have any thoughts or theories about this?

3 comments:

lell said...

Hi Brigid,

I am writing to you from the other side of the world, Malaysia. Read the story you posted and I was fascinated. Prompted me to reply and share my story which is related to what you wrote about above.

I am living in my own apartment for almost 3 years now. Two years ago, on two separate occasions, I had friends spend the night. I'd normally lay out some mattresses in the living room and switch off all the lights so they would not be disturbed. Come morning on these two separate occasions, one of my friends would cuss me for disturbing their sleep. According to the two of them(who very close to me), they would see a silhouette that resembles me coming out of the room several times that night to to go to the restroom situation at the end of the dining room. When the first friend told me, I thought I was sleepwalking but months later when the other guy told me, I was baffled..

My sister,who visited me with husband and children, also told me that on at least one occasion, at the corner of her eye, she saw me pass by swiftly out of the room she was in when in fact, i was not in the apartment at that time. My nephew too had seen something similar.

The Chinese believe that upon realization, one should "invite" the doppelgangers to leave as it would drain the energy from the person it is attached to. I will be going to see a medium next week to find out whether I do have it and whether I would need to invite it to leave. If you are interested, I will keep you updated.. :)

Reggie said...

I just read this book as well and I am also puzzled. If the doppelganger couldn't interact with anything, then how did she/it open the closet door to leave hurriedly? Also the blithe way that it's dismissed is weird. Seems like this phenomenon is every bit as worthy of study as ghosts...if it isn't in fact the same phenomena.

Brigid N. Burke said...

I agree--I have to read more about what Carl Jung said about these types of occurrences. The assumption is that they're a part of the collective unconscious that appears to be separate from you, because it's not part of your conscious ego. The reason others can see it is because it's a "collective" phenomenon. But it still doesn't explain how they could move around...unless it's a psychokinetic thing. Definitely worthy of more research.