I see doppelgangers

A doppelganger is what we call someone who looks a lot like someone else, although the dictionary says it can also refer to someone with the same name.

I have noticed that I see doppelgangers everywhere. There are many people whom I meet who strike me as having a strong resemblance to someone else I know or, more likely, to a public figure whose image frequently appears in the media. It seems to be a personal quirk since other people don’t seem to see the resemblances that I see. When I am watching TV with friends and family and I say that someone on the screen looks like someone else whom we both know, very often they cannot see the resemblance at all.

The funny thing is that even though I often see doppelgangers of other people, I have never seen a doppelganger of myself. Perhaps we are reluctant to give up the idea that we are so distinctive that there is no one else who could be possibly like us. This may also explain why, when I tell someone that their looks remind me of someone well-known, they are always surprised and because they sometimes do not view it as a compliment, I have stopped telling people this.


  1. Bruce says

    I don’t know if it’s valid, but it reminds me of the hypothesis that humans are better at distinguishing between people in the same racial group as themselves. So, because of there being few South Asians in the US, few people, including Mano, see a doppelgänger for Mano in a culture filled with Europeans. But for Mano, this hypothesis suggests that many Caucasian people look similar to each other, from the perspective of someone raised in a non-Caucasian culture. Is there any evidence that supports this hypothesis?

  2. Ridana says

    I apparently have a doppleganger where I live. When I first moved here, I encountered many people who mistook me for her at first sight. It was kind of unnerving in a way to be so effusively greeted by total strangers.
    I actually met her at a party sometime later on, and yes, I could see the resemblance. I thought it was amusing, but she had been getting similar approaches from strangers who thought she was me, and she did not see the humor in it. I got the impression that she somehow felt she had the prior claim on our shared appearance (??) and saw me as an interloper or something. Weird. So we did not exactly hit it off. 🙁

  3. Ridana says

    Oops, forgot what I originally wanted to say. I share Mano’s seeing similarities than others don’t. I don’t think that’s uncommon, especially if you look at those “separated at birth” types of articles and websites floating around.

    I always thought Clint Eastwood looked like my uncle (I think it was the angular cheekbones) and Walter Brennan looked like my father. No one else agrees. I also think young Fred MacMurray looks like Pierce Brosnan, and Sylvester Stallone looks like Lee J. Cobb. So eye of the beholder and all.

  4. birgerjohansson says

    The former president is NOT a doppelganger of a certain rock star, whatever he may claim.

  5. Jazzlet says

    I was often confused for a friend when we worked in the same organisation, but different departments. It was a little disconcerting the first time it happened, but after that I just said “I think you have me confused with X”, they’d do a double take and usually laugh. It could take me a while to realise with some that I also knew somewhat, and there were occasions when someone we both knew would ask why I hadn’t told them of something when we talked the other day. Given how often it happened I suspect there were plenty of occasions when neither of us twigged. It annoyed my friend a lot, but she really wants to be seen as a unique and special individual.

    Mr J has doppelgangers in more than one city, with some people absolutely convinced they have seen him somewhere he just wouldn’t go, like a church service, and others that he must remember when they frequented the same pub in a city he’s never been to.

    The thing my brain does in this line, that I wish it wouldn’t, is to think I’ve seen one of my brothers walking ahead of me, it happens far more in Cornwall where the family originates on both sides. I think it’s to do with the walk, which derives from relatively short legs in relation to the rest of the body. I wish my brain didn’t do this now as one of my brothers died last year so it’s a reminder he’s gone.

  6. suttkus says

    So, you’re saying I’m not someone with prosopagnosia, I’m just surrounded by doppelgänger! At last, it all makes sense!

  7. outis says

    I’d say it’s fairly common to be taken for someone else, especially at a distance: a closer, more careful look is often enough to dispel the impression.
    Personally, I am told I look a bit like Mr Bean (I wish, he’s much slimmer) but again, look closer and we are not really alike. I think.
    Weirdest thing was taking an actual picture of my “Doppelgänger”. Years ago, I took a picture of a large, crowded city square and there almost in the middle of the image was… myself. That is, some fella really looking like me from that angle and distance. I wonder, am I cursed now?

  8. flex says

    I have mild prosopagnosia, just to the level where it’s a standing joke in our house. But there are three things which I use to distinguish between people; their voice, how they hold their body, and their walk.

    So actors, particularly film actors, which are usually shown from the waist up or with an even tighter focus on the face, throw me. Further, actors are trained to adjust the way their hold their body and the way they walk as part of getting into character. So I regularly will say to my wife, “That’s a pretty good actor, have I seen them before?” And she will go, “That’s Ben Kingsley (or some other famous actor), you’ve seen him in lots of things.”

    But as soon as I hear someone speak I know that I’ve encountered them before. I can be in the next room while my wife is watching a movie and identify certain actors strictly from the timbre of their voice.

    As for myself, since I grew a “weird beard” a couple decades ago, no one has mistaken me for anyone else. Further, it’s sometimes both surprising and gratifying to go into a place I haven’t been in over a year and people recognize me. But I really think that’s due to my weird beard.

  9. Sunday Afternoon says

    Apropos of a large sporting even today: I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have on 2 occasions been requested for my autograph by people misidentifying me as Joe Montana. As soon as I reply in a British accent they know they have the wrong person 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *