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Paranormal Experiences: Ghosts of the Living?

Helen is from Fife, Scotland and knows a thing or two about the paranormal.

Ghosts of Living People?

No matter if we're believers or sceptics, we've all heard of the term 'ghost'. However, there are some categories of 'ghost' within the paranormal that have nothing to do with the dead!

Doppelgangers have been known about for centuries. A basic definition of this phenomena is:

  • Doppelgangers - Where a living person is seen in two different places, usually in close proximity so that the person who is alive and their 'ghost' are seen at the same time. Traditionally, doppelgangers are thought to be omens of death, similar to crisis apparitions. However, as we shall see, this is not always the case.

Although we'll concentrate on doppelgängers, there are other categories of this type of phenomena, although today, doppelgänger tends to be the term used to cover most cases of this type:

  • Doubles - These are reports of seeing the same person in two different places at the same time - but the locations are sometimes some distance apart. Many of these cases have been verified by more than one person.
  • Bi-Location - This is where two versions of one person are seen by groups of people at the same time. They can also occur in close proximity to each other. However, the person and their ghost tend to carry out different actions from each other. What is very interesting about these cases is that both versions of the person seem to be much weaker in appearance than the whole living person would normally be.
  • Vardogers - This is similar to doubles but the 'ghostly' double visits a location before the real person. In some very odd cases, the vardoger of a person has sometimes visited a location many times before the real physical person. When the 'real' person finally gets to this particular destination they are recognised immediately but the 'real' person has no recollection of visiting the place before.

Many of the cases could be put down to mistaken identity or other human error. However, this gets more difficult when there is more than one incident involving the same person and when different people verify the phenomena.

Is astral projection and ghosts of the living part of the same phenomena?

Is astral projection and ghosts of the living part of the same phenomena?

In some cases, people have had interactions with their own doppelgangers.

In some cases, people have had interactions with their own doppelgangers.

The temporal lobe of the brain - when stimulated with electricity, doppelganger-like sensations were felt.

The temporal lobe of the brain - when stimulated with electricity, doppelganger-like sensations were felt.

Strange Cases

The doppelganger is believed to be the shadow or ghost-like self of a living person. The phenomena is very old and comes from the German language meaning 'double walker' or 'double goer'.

The word itself is not that old but the phenomena of doppelgangers goes back into the distant past, within the mythologies of a number of cultures. Ancient Egypt had a spirit double called 'Ka' that not only looked the same as the living person but also had identical feelings and memories. In Norse mythology, we get the term vardoger that we have already mentioned. In this case, the vardoger comes before the living person, performing the same actions that the living person is observed doing a little later. In Celtic mythology, their doppelganger was called 'Ankou' and was believed to be a personification of death.

The doppelganger is frequently believed to be a very sinister event and is still today viewed with some trepidation as the associations are often felt to be negative. Seeing your own doppelganger is said to be an omen of doom or death and relatives or friends seeing the doppelganger of a loved one is said to indicate illness.

Interestingly, recent scientific experiments have shown that effects similar to the doppelganger experiences can be induced by electrical stimulation of the temporal-parietal area of the brain. The subjects sensed a presence nearby but could not see any form. In one case, the participant who was female sensed a man behind her, but did not see anything. In one experiment, the same lady said that the 'doppelganger' was telling her not to co-operate with the scientists.

However, as startling as this is, it doesn't really explain the phenomena fully. For example:

  • Without the lab, what stimulates the person to have the experience? Not everyone has epilepsy or problems with the temporal area of the brain. So what is their trigger?
  • How does this explain the phenomena of more than one person seeing a doppelganger?
  • In addition, I don't think anything in nature is ever produced without a reason - so this begs the question why the brain, whether electrically stimulated or not - should produce such an effect as a doppelganger?
  • Although the electrical stimulation caused similar effects there were also differences as well. For example in the experiments the 'doppelganger' wasn't seen, only felt. In one case the doppelganger also had a different sex to the person undergoing the experiments. In paranormal cases this doesn't happen. In addition, the doppelganger produced didn't have the same degree of movement nor independence from the living person that happens in cases reported.

For example, think about the case of French novelist Guy De Maupassant:

  • The novelist had discussed with other people how he had frequently seen his doppelganger. The events happened not far off from the end of his life. On one occasion he reports that his doppelganger came into the room where he was working, sat down at the same table and began to dictate to him the work he was currently working on. Maupassant related the account in a short story called 'Lui'. Of course because the author was on his own, it's difficult to verify and many would put this incident down to 'hallucination' etc.

Also the paranormal author Victoria Branden:

  • In addition to being a harbinger of death or doom, doppelgangers are often regarded as a kind of evil twin as this case seems to demonstrate. While driving her car Victoria Branden turned a corner only to be confronted by a huge lorry on the wrong side of the road coming directly at her. She also relates that there was a distinct, eerie sense of quiet and suspension of normal thought - an experience often observed in paranormal and UFO encounters. She then became aware of a figure sitting next to her in the passenger seat. She realised it was a double of herself, dressed in the same clothes. The figure had it's face hidden, but the creepy thing was that Victoria strongly sensed that this 'twin' had an evil smile on its face and she felt an overwhelming feeling of malevolence coming from it. On looking back to the road, she found that the truck had swerved harmlessly out of her way. This is classic of the doppelganger in that many people report a sense of evil or negativity coming from it. Why this should be the case is open to debate.

In addition, some accounts of doppelgangers are similar to what is known as 'crisis apparitions'. These are well documented phenomena involving the apparition of a person appearing to loved ones or friends at the time of their death. These are similar to doppelgangers in that in many cases it is a 'crisis' or 'fear' event that stimulates the experience. However, as we shall see with the next case this is not always true.

  • This story was related to me by an acquaintance, (called Dawn),about her Mum. 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 doppelganger 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. In addition, rather than being a harbinger of doom, Dawn's Mum lived to the grand age of 89.
Are doppelgangers, bi-location etc simply unconscious projections of the self?

Are doppelgangers, bi-location etc simply unconscious projections of the self?

Doppelganger Cases Continue

There are cases reported every year from all parts of the world about doppelgangers - although compared to some phenomena, it's claimed that these events are rare. However, could there be many more cases than we currently believe? Could there be hundreds of cases of doppelgangers happening but they are either not seen or a connection is never made between the real person and the double? We may never know. As with other paranormal phenomena, people are still very reluctant to speak about their experiences due to the - understandable - fear of being ridiculed and labelled as 'nuts', etc.

What we can say is that doppelganger cases are obviously still happening and seem to fall into two broad categories:

  • Benign experiences that although shocking causes no harm and there is no sense of threat or evil. For example the case of Dawn's Mum.
  • Secondly there are the doppelgangers that give out a threatening energy even although there may not be any aggressive actions. Frequently in these cases, the doppelganger is observed with their face covered or turned away from the person - like they need to remain hidden. When the face is observed the eyes in particular tend to look evil. There are a few cases that claim to be of doppelgangers, that have caused harm to others. It's only my own personal opinion, but in these 'aggressive' cases, I think there could well be other explanations other than the 'doppelganger'.

One group of modern stories that I've located on-line and from other sources seem to have the same formula for doppelgangers. I've also only looked at cases where more than one witness was involved in order to reduce the risk of mistaken identity as the cause:

  • Although not considered by everyone to bring bad luck, doppelgangers nevertheless can give off anything from an unpleasant vibe to malevolence. Other doppelgangers just seem like the normal person with nothing apparently unusual.
  • The most interesting aspect of some doppelgangers is the fact of keeping their faces hidden. This is not always the case, but in a large number of reports, the face is obscured by, for example, hair or by the doppelganger only being observed from the side or back so that the face remains obscure.
  • There is sometimes no conversation from the doppelganger but in other cases people have reported that they have talked with the 'doppelganger' believing it to be the actual person. What tends to happen is that the 'doppelganger' often disappears from a location that is difficult to exit without being seen by at least one person. Later, either the real person turns up at the location bewildered to discover that people believe they had already been there. Alternatively, it is later verified by other witnesses, that the real person hadn't left their house, bed or whatever and were never in the location mentioned.
  • A few cases observed that the doppelganger moved in an odd way - a very rapid movement is often described that looks weird to the onlookers. In other cases they move in ordinary fashion.
  • Other people frequently see the doppelganger in addition to the physical other half.
  • In other cases, the physical person never sees their own doppelganger and the events are witnessed by others.
  • On occasion the doppelganger seems to mimic the same movements as the physical person. At other times the doppelgänger is performing different actions.

There's no doubt that there is a phenomena regarding doppelgangers and related phenomena but what they are and what triggers them is a mystery.

The ancient Egyptians also had doppelgangers that they called 'Ka'.

The ancient Egyptians also had doppelgangers that they called 'Ka'.

Doppelgangers are often reported as looking more ghost-like than the physical counterpart.

Doppelgangers are often reported as looking more ghost-like than the physical counterpart.

Doppelgangers, Astral Projection, and Dimensions

To finish off the article on ghosts of the living, we'll have a look at the best documented case of a doppelganger. Although these events happened a long time ago, it's so well recorded with numerous witnesses that it remains one of the best.

In 1846, a 32-year-old school teacher called Amelie Saegee was the focus of a remarkable doppelganger case. In fact, this happened so often that she was reported to have lost at least 16 jobs over an 18-year span, despite her credentials as an excellent and trustworthy school teacher to the young daughters of the nobility. What is also very important about Amelie's case is the amount of witnesses over the years who reported the same thing - that she was frequently seen in two places at the same time. Here are some of the main facts from the case:

  • Amelie was observed writing on the blackboard when her pupils also observed her double copying the teacher's exact movements. However, the doppelganger did not have chalk in it's hand and of course no writing appeared on the blackboard.
  • In one astonishing account, pupils who claimed to have seen Amelie's doppelganger went towards it and touched it. They were shocked to feel that although the 'double' looked solid, their hands went through the form and in their words, 'it felt empty' and they also described it as feeling like cobwebs.
  • There were a number of occasions when Amelie would be working inside the classroom with pupils but at the same time would be observed walking outside in the gardens.
  • Aimelie never saw her own doppelganger, it was only observed by others.
  • It was observed that when the doppelganger effect was taking place, Amelie always looked pale and exhausted as if her energy was split in two between her real self and her doppelganger.
  • Her case was reported so many times and taken that seriously that she was frequently dismissed from her position as school teacher.

There are few things that raise interesting questions from Amelie's case regarding the nature of the doppelganger. Is this some type of inter-dimensional phenomena? Theories regarding many dimensions propose that there could be one of us in each dimension. If this is so, then are doppelgangers one of those 'others' crossing dimensions? Looking at the school teacher's experience, her other dimensional self seems to have been carrying out the same work as the present dimensional Amelie. I have to say that personally this doesn't really ring true with me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the 'exhaustion' effect on Amelie strongly suggests that it is part of her in this dimension that is being affected. Secondly, if the account of the pupils being able to touch the doppelganger are true, then this suggests more of an energy form, rather than a solid person from another dimension. However, this is only my personal thoughts.

What about astral projection? Could doppelgangers be a form of astral projection or OBE (out of body experience)? With astral projection the person is making a conscious attempt to leave their body and are aware that this is what's happening. People who have experimented with the astral and then recorded dates and times when they tried to appear to someone else, has been successful and verified by other witnesses. When the 'astral' form appears it is frequenly seen as ghost-like rather than a solid form. The difference between astral projection and doppelgangers is that in the doppelganger phenomena, there is no conscious attempt to go somewhere else so we have to then assume that in some way, doppelgangers are unconscious actions.

In addition, with OBE's and astral projection witnesses often report seeing an energy thread linking the physical body to the spiritual body. There are no reports of this kind of phenomena with dopplegangers.

When people have OBE's, although this is often spontaneous and not a deliberate action, they are usually very self aware that this is what's happening to them. They are normally conscious of having a physical body - for example lying on a bed - while their energy/spiritual form is a little distance away.

What is also interesting is the account of the the pupils touching Amelie's doppelganger. They described her as being empty and with a sense of cobwebs. In many haunted locations where spirit activity has been witnessed, people often describe contact with spirits as feeling like cobwebs touching their body.

The doppelganger is still a mystery. However, going with the evidence gathered so far could it be that the doppelganger is a projection of the sub-concious shadow? Or is it a splinter from the spiritual self? Perhaps, depending on the circumstances, both could be possible solutions? The child-like malevolence in some cases is very similar to what our own shadows are capable of. On the other hand some doppelgangers are benign and seem to be the opposite of an evil twin.

More evidence is needed and further research into this fascinating aspect of the paranormal. It's also as well to remember—if you're waving across the road to a friend, how can you be sure it's their physical self that is present and not their doppelganger?


Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on March 19, 2013:

Hi Kitty, lovely to hear from you and hope things are going well - with both kinds of studies!

Now that's a very interesting theory you've put forward here and one I didn't actually think about. We do know, as you rightly say, that spirit attachment does happen and that there are also spirits capable of forming energy into look-a-likes. And yes, this would definitely make sense with regards to the malevolent feelings from some of them - which I have to admit has always puzzled me a lot. It would be interesting to go back over the cases with people who felt that the doppelganger was malevolent and see if the person had previously experienced feeling any strange sensations or any other activity/strange events had happened that would point to spirit attachment.

Kitty - thank you so much for this, you've got me even more intrigued by this subject!! Bright Blessings!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on March 19, 2013:

LOL!!! I didn't realise what I had said and after talking about doppelgangers as well!!!! LOL!!!!

Kitty Fields from Summerland on March 19, 2013:

While I do feel strongly that many of these cases are indeed related to OBEs and astral projection, I feel that some of them could be of a more sinister nature too. Perhaps a spirit has attached itself to the person, feeds off the person's energy, and is able to take an energetic shape like that of the person to which they are attached. This could be a better explanation especially for the cases in which the doppelganger is malevolent or violent...just a thought/theory! :) Awesome always talk about the most fascinating things. Blessings!

Rosemary Sadler from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand on March 18, 2013:

Now I am laughing at your comment "things are so hectic at the moment I'm meeting myself coming back!!" Soooo how does it feel. Lol

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on March 18, 2013:

Hi Rosemay, firstly please accept my sincere apologies for taking so long to respond - things are so hectic at the moment I'm meeting myself coming back!!

As always, I love reading your comments and getting your take on things - the multiple personality disorder is very interesting and I hadn't thought about that. But as I said in the hub, why does the brain produce such a thing? In multiple personality disorder you do get the 'others' many who are dominant, as with this one trying to tell the scientists to stop. It is very spooky indeed!

I was saying to Alastar and Catgypsy that I definitely find the idea of seeing the ghost of myself much more freaky than seeing those belonging to dead people! Imagine what would go through your mind? I reckon most people would think they were going insane.

Yes, astral projection and telepathic links happen especially between families - and often it's when close families are quite a distance apart. I think these cases are particularly interesting because it does make the case for having conscious energy outside of our physical body much stronger and I agree with you, science likes to think they either have or soon will have all the answers, and anything outside their closed in boxes are nonsense - boy are they are in for a shock one day!

As always, many thanks for the vote up, it always means a lot!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on March 18, 2013:

Hi - please accept my apologies for taking so long to respond.

Yes, I think the case of the teacher is one of the best I've ever heard of and especially when you think about the amount of witnesses involved!!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on March 18, 2013:

Alastar, first things first - please accept my sincere apologies for taking so long to respond. When family issues arise they seem to take over absolutely everything!

Anyway, so glad that you enjoyed the hub - and what a great comment! You know, even after writing this hub I never thought about how I would feel if I met my own d-ganger? I was saying to Catgypsy that these kinds of ghosts/spirits - if that's what they are - are more freaky than dead ones, no doubt about it. So I'm not sure if I would be interested or freaked if I did meet me - hopefully in a good mood!

I was also quite surprised to find on many of the paranormal forums just how many people think they have had these experiences, it was too intriguing to let go.

I loved your expression 'off-shoots of the norm' now that, for me does seem to sum up very nicely the enigma of d-gangers. They do seem to be a splinter or projection that really shouldn't happen while we're in the physical body. Now this takes me back to your other interesting comment about 'remote-viewing' - and some of the cases I've read about are to put it mildly and crudely 'gub-smacking' - but they do all seem to have the same root, or come from the same energy source. So are d-gangers, astral projection, obe's and remote viewing just different flavours of the same thing? Does 'flavour' depend on whether our conscious mind is in control or the sub-conscious? This is the wonderful thing about the paranormal. You dig into a subject and instead of answers - although on occasion they do seem to come - many more questions are thrown up!

As always Alastar, thank you for you wonderful and fascinating commentary - and for your patience! Thank you!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on March 18, 2013:

Hi Cat, - 'gives me the willies' is a great way to put it'!!! LOL!

Rosemary Sadler from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand on March 12, 2013:

I love these spooky hubs of yours :))

I enjoyed reading this fascinating subject Helen. There is much we don't know and it seems to be beyond scientific ability. The woman with a male doppelganger I am thinking maybe multiple personality disorder.

It must be such a strange spooky feeling to see yourself

I have had no experience at all with doppelgangers but have had a couple of people say they saw my double, I just put it down to look-a-likes which I think it was. As for astral projection, I don't know but a couple of times I have commented on something to people who have said 'How did you know' well I was there I saw it, but realised I couldn't have been there, one was my daughter and I put it down to a telepathic link. So who knows.

Voting UP & U A I

Jamie Brock from Texas on March 12, 2013:

This hub is so interesting... I had heard of dopplegangers but never knew there was any truth to it. The teachers case is extremely interesting... wow.. Now you have me wanting to learn more! Thank you for sharing this :)

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on March 12, 2013:

Wow Helen, you've informed and given me another great para read. We know the military has admitted to the reality of remote viewing so why not what you write of here; all through the universal matrix if you will. That spider web that connects all in creation.

This is just theorizing the basics but I must admit to believing. Can you imagine conversing with your own doppelganger! The cases you present are all new to me and absolutely amazing. Crisis apparitions are particularly intriguing but as related to you by the friend have off-shoots from the norm if you will on occasion.

My friend thank you for this- you're definitely defending your Queen of the paranormal title brilliantly! This is one I'll be back to peruse again.

catgypsy from the South on March 10, 2013:

Totally agree with you Seeker7! Gives me the willies...haha. Regular ghosts don't!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on March 10, 2013:

Hi Eddy, hope your having a great weekend down in Wales - how's the weather? We've had snow showers and blizzards up here today!

Glad that you enjoyed the hub! Yes, it's one of those subjects that the more you read and learn about it, the more incredible and fascinating it becomes! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on March 10, 2013:

Hi catgypsy, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub. I have to admit that for some reason I find ghosts of the living spookier than ghosts of the dead!! LOL!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on March 10, 2013:

Hi Alicia, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed this spooky hub!! And yes, this subject does make us think!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on March 10, 2013:

Hi Carol, many thanks for the visit and glad that youi enjoyed the hub! Many thanks also for the vote and share - greatly appreciated!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on March 10, 2013:

Hi femme, lovely to hear from you and glad that you enjoyed the hub! I agree, these cases are very spooky and I haven't - to my knowledge - had this kind of experience either. It would be very interesting though!!

Helen Murphy Howell (author) from Fife, Scotland on March 10, 2013:

Hi to,








Glad you guys enjoyed the hub and for leaving such interesting comments - thank you!

Eiddwen from Wales on March 09, 2013:

Wow an amazing hub here;I am voting up and sharing. I have agreat interest in this subject and I am also saving for future reference. Have a wonderful weekend.


catgypsy from the South on March 08, 2013:

Very fascinating stuff Seeker7! I've heard of the word doppelgangers, but never knew what they were. Thanks for such a detailed hub on the subject!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 08, 2013:

This is a very interesting hub, seeker7! It's given me lots to think about. Thanks for all the information.

Christin Sander from Midwest on March 08, 2013:

I truly enjoyed this most interesting hub. My sister does this! In her sleep a few times over the years my mother and I saw her two places at once. She doesn't believe it, but we know what we saw :). I have also been places - astral travel I suppose. I went one night in a "dream" to look at my old childhood home where I grew up and I was horrified to see it painted this awful screaming blue color. When I woke up I was laughing saying that can't be true, no one would ever paint a house that shade of blue. less than a week later I took a drive out there and sure enough - someone painted my old childhood home that awful color :( ... It was disheartening and super cool all at the same time lol. Great hub voted up and shared :)

Maggie Bennett from New York on March 08, 2013:

Very interesting hub. Well written and very informative. I'd love to read some more on this subject.

Kalmiya from North America on March 08, 2013:

This is a very interesting hub on these phenomena. A few years ago, while traveling through Mexico, I'm quite certain I experienced bilocation. I had gone to sleep in Mexico and then later I thought I'd had a dream that I had been back in S. Ontario, walking along a familiar street at nighttime. When I was having this experience, I really felt that I was in Ontario and when I woke up in Mexico, I was quite disoriented and didn't understand where I was as the feeling of being 'home' was so strong. It's too bad no one saw me and I have no corroboration. But I believe these things occur! Thanks.

Judi Brown from UK on March 08, 2013:

I was travelling on a bus once, looked out from the window and was quite convinced that I saw "myself" walking along the street. Very eerie!

Carol from Greenwood, B.C., Canada on March 08, 2013:

Well! This is just fascinating Seeker. I have read about the Doppelganger phenomena in bits and pieces but you have managed to include all the possibilities in one place. Excellent hub!

Voted up all across and sharing



carozy from San Francisco on March 08, 2013:

Very interesting stories and a great article. I am interested in astral projection and learned a lot about doppelgangers with this article. Thanks for sharing!

Eric Dockett from USA on March 08, 2013:

Fascinating stuff, and a very well-written Hub! There has to be so much left to discover about what we call the supernatural world. I could fill this comment section up with speculation on what these spirits of the living might be, and why they are seen, but of course nobody knows. I did very much enjoy your take on it though. Well done!

femmeflashpoint on March 07, 2013:


Spooky stuff, Doppelgangers. :) I have never run into one, and hope I never do, lol.

Fascinating collection you put together for this!

I enjoyed it!


Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on March 07, 2013:

This is such an interesting hub. How creepy! I have often wondered if a doppelganger is created by astral projection as well. There are so many things we still don't understand about science. Thanks for sharing such a well-researched hub on this topic. Voted up!