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The Doppelganger Syndrome

Updated on January 31, 2012

Everybody has it…everybody suffers from it…everybody can relate to this article…it is a common fact in our lives that when we walk down the street…we stop dead in our tracks when we see a person who resembles somebody we know…or a celebrity, to the point that our mouths drop open and we point our finger towards the person in question.

This phenomenon has lasted since civilisations flourished, and it is a popular talking point in social psychology, when we meet up with friends there is always some point during the conversation when somebody remarks…”You never guess what? I just saw this dude today who looked just Keanu Reeves! He was the absolute splitting image of him! I mean it was uncanny!”

In that certain example of an outburst in minor pop culture trivia you could see the same person and think to yourself “Nah! He looks nothing like him!” But that’s just the way perception is, how the psychological factors can vary from person to person, comparing what the eye sees to what the mind believes. I believe that everybody in this world is guilty of comparing people to other people, our genetic D.N.A and make up garners the fact that there are more than one of us in the world and I also believe that there are countless dozens in the world who bear an uncanny resemblance to each of us. Normally when this phenomenon occurs, when you see somebody’s ‘twin’ walking down the street, more often than not the resemblance is so striking you smile and think "Snap!", but there are also moments when the mind can play tricks on you…

There is nothing more embarrassing than when you think you see somebody that you know from a distance, walking ahead of you, or walking towards you…and you run up to them, roaring out some in joke, arms flapping, screaming their name, and just as you bump bodies with them you get a look at their face and…it’s not them. Your cheeks go scarlet and you apologise profusely to this clone of your friend as they go back to their everyday business with a bemused look on their face. It happened to me quite recently. Walking through the city I thought I saw my good friend Emer, with her dark curls of hair bouncing around, bopping down the street in a rainbow coloured jumper and a pair of faded denim jeans. I was so convinced it was her that in a moment of madness I ran up behind her, grabbed her by the waist, tickled her, and roared out “How are ya doing sexy!” …it wasn’t her. This strange woman turned to me, eyes wide in shock, to witness a man, stuttering for the words to apologise, only to sound like a demented person. Again I apologised profusely, thankfully she saw the funny side to it. Nobody’s eyesight is that powerful to comprehend that it is a great buddy of yours walking towards you, as their features become clearer you say to yourself "It it? maybe it's's not", but sometimes, as you are gripped in embarrassment and shame after another mix up, hands on your head, groaning, calling yourself and idiot, you wish it was.

The syndrome also has a funny side to it. You could be in a public house and a group of people could rush over to a girl, drinks in hand, pushing their fingers against her cheeks, smelling her hair, as she stands there dazed and confused in all the commotion, wondering what the hell is happening, only for the crowd to pipe up, “It’s you! It’s really you! Off the telly! Can I have your autograph?” Only for her to reply “Eh no…it’s not me…sorry” this only makes it worse for her, as they grab her cheeks and go “Wow! Unbelievable!”

I was the victim once of a ‘Doppelganger gag’ so to speak. A few years back I was out drinking with a group of friends in this cool retro wine bar. One of my friends happens to look like Sylvester Stallone…my first name is Adrian…needless to say, I’m guessing anybody who reads this can comprehend what happened next. As I was coming out from the toilet, making my way back to my friends, fixing my belt, he roared out “AAAADDDRIIIANNNN!” at the top of his voice, doing his best Stallone face. His timing was impeccable; I stood frozen to the spot, as the whole bar cracked up in fits of hysteric laughter, tears streaming down their cheeks as they slapped their hands off their knees. My mates had to support each other under the weight of all the laughter…it was a major set up. A plan devised whilst I was whistling away in the toilet. I see the funny side to it now, but at the time, I just had to pick up my pint coolly and just say “good one man…good one…”

Doppleganger #1 Gaz Coombes
Doppleganger #1 Gaz Coombes | Source
Doppleganger #2 Neil Young
Doppleganger #2 Neil Young | Source
Doppleganger #3 Emile Hirsch
Doppleganger #3 Emile Hirsch | Source

I myself for some strange reason have three celebrity doppelgangers; a better way to put it is that I look like three celebrities. The most striking one is Gaz Coombes, famous for being the lead singer in the English rock group 'Supergrass'. For years I have endured people coming up to me singing “We are young, we are green, we got teeth, that are clean!” I hate that song. I love the band but that is a terrible song. A mate sang it to me one night and he could see it was getting under my skin…so he just kept doing it.

The second one is Neil Young; I mentioned recently in a comment in a hub about Neil Young that I received a wonderful compliment from one of my closest friends, when she joyfully said to me one day that if she ever did a film about Neil Young’s amazing life, she would cast me as him. I was bowled over by the compliment. Unfortunately I can’t sing like him. I have a deep voice. So if this impossible dream ever came true, somebody would have to grab me by my testicles while I sing. The man has an amazing voice. When I play the guitar and sing his songs, I basically sound like a camp Irish man…I have extremely bad falsetto qualities.

The third is actor Emile Hirsch, most famous for his role in Sean Penn’s amazing film ‘Into the Wild’. This comparison always brings out the vanity in me, ever since my friend said to me that I looked a lot like him after she saw him in a film. Since then I’ve had a few “Into the Wild!” comments thrown at me, which cause me to smile and give them the thumbs up. Every time I watch him in a film I say to myself “Yeah! I definitely look like him!”

Like I mentioned earlier it’s all down to the persons own individual perception. You could read this hub, look at my profile picture and think, “Oh wow! He does look like him…but not him…” Doppelganger comparison comes as easy to us as breathing air, and in the back of peoples minds there is always the quest to find that one person, that one person who looks so much like a famous celebrity, you have to get your picture taken with them. I recently found fantastic bits of trivia relating to this subject, one example was when Charlie Chaplin came third in a ‘Charlie Chaplin look a like competition”, another was watching a documentary on the amazing career of Alfred Hitchcock’s double, and the brilliant archive footage of what looked like Hitchcock shooting himself…

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it, and I’ll leave you to ponder this question…Who is your doppelganger? Feel free to comment below…


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      Tabitha 4 years ago

      I have never a actually thought someone was someone else but I seem to have a doppelganger who lives close by me in the next town. I have been mistaken to be her on several different occasions. The last time this happened was a month ago when I went into a department store to pay a bill and the cashier was like didn't you just pay this a couple of hours ago. Maybe one day I will cross paths with her, actually I hope that I do. She must look a lot like me because others mistake me for her way too often. As for a celebrity doppelganger, the only one that I have been compared to is Sarah Jessica Parker without all the curly hair. LOL

    • Adrian Lavelle profile image

      Adrian Lavelle 5 years ago from Galway, Ireland

      I'd say you definitely have a doppelganger, thankfully anytime I've had an encounter where I mistake a persons identity they see the funny side of it, it happened to me recently, a girl approached me in a music shop convinced we danced at a reggae concert...and she went pink in the cheeks, I know how it feels...thanks for reading WiccanSage!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 5 years ago

      This is really funny stuff. I could imagine that poor woman's face, I know I'd be shocked. And the bar thing. I wonder who my doppelgänger is? She's got to be out there somewhere. OMG you must be so much fun to hang out with. Great hub.

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      Art 6 years ago

      Hi Adrian, I did not know the name for this so you've cleared that up. I have many times suffered from this I have even managed to run across my twin that I do not have by blood relation! Interesting , thanks for sharing. Voted up Brother :)

    • Adrian Lavelle profile image

      Adrian Lavelle 6 years ago from Galway, Ireland

      It's 2 rockstars and Emile Hirsch!! hahaha! it happens to the best of us, I don't know anybody who hasn't fallen into the trap of mistaken identity...Oh and by the way did I mention I look like Emile Hirsch? you got to love vanity, it's a great thing =)

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      Hmm..very interesting. I walked up to a guy at the farmer's market and struck up a conversation with him about farming and talking about his wife, giggling that she slept in...blah, blah, blah. Then I looked up. It looked like my friend, he had the same car, and sold the same vegetables. Oops. My mistake, but I maintain that it wasn't my fault! Oh well...I'm at least glad I don't look like THREE actors! :)