Psychological disorder causes you to hallucinate your doppelgänger


In the book The Man Who Wasn't There, Anil Ananthaswamy explores mysteries of self, including the weirdness of autoscopic phenomena, a kind of hallucination in which you are convinced that you are having an out-of-body experience or face to face with your non-existent twin.

From a BBC feature based on one of the book chapters:


Chris may offer the most startling account. His brother, David, had died of AIDS a few months previous to this strange episode. It was early in the morning. Chris got off the bed, stood up, and walked toward the end of the bed, where there was a dresser. He stretched and turned around and got the fright of his life.

"The shock was electric," Chris recalled. "Because I was still lying in the bed sleeping, and it was very clearly me lying there sleeping, my first thought was that I had died. I'm dead and this is the first step. I was just gasping. My head was spinning, trying to get a grip on things."

And then the phone rang. "I don't know why, but I picked up the phone and said, 'Hello.' It was David. I immediately recognised his voice. I was overwhelmed, but at the same time I had this incredible sensation of joy." But David didn't stay on the line for long. "He told me that he didn't have much time and he just wanted me to know that he was all right, and to tell the rest of the family, then he hung up," Chris said. "And then there was this enormous sucking sensation," said Chris, making a long, drawn-out slurping sound. "I felt like I was dragged, almost thrown, back into the bed, smack into myself."

"The Man Who Wasn't There: Investigations into the Strange New Science of the Self" (Amazon)

"The disturbing consequences of seeing your doppelgänger" (BBC)

(photo: Diane Arbus, "Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey, 1967")