On “The Double”

They say every person has a double. Your (identical) brother from another mother. Some view the doppelganger effect as a normal phenomenon and nothing more than two people looking like each other, a purely coincidental occurrence that has no consequences. Personally I haven’t met mine though I have met many people who say they have met “someone” who “looks just like me”. My line of thought here is that sometimes one person is so awesome, God just decides it’s easier to split that awesomeness by making two people. While I am ecstatic in the thought that somewhere out there I have a twinsical version de moi, the popular notion of the doppelganger is always tied to the sinister.

Fun fact: These are the various types of doppelgangers one can have: (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Doppelganger)

Recently I watched The Double (2013) and by god I was blown. Jesse Eisenberg is one of my favourite actor’s and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t watching the movie for him. The movie is a little slow paced and you find yourself immersed in states where you’re bored and hooked on at the same time, then you’re enlightened and confused at the same time. The Double is one of those movies that leave every freaking scene open to interpretation. You are constantly asking yourself “Is Simon’s doppelganger real or imagined?” Sadly the question remains unanswered even at the end of the movie so I came up with the next best thing. An explanation that both cases, real or imagined are totally possible.

 My very own Mirror Image? Imagine that!!!


We first consider that James Simon is nothing more than a figment of Simon James’s imagination. When a person psychologically experiences a classical case of identity crisis arising due to a perceived impression of his self esteem, his mind manifests his split personality. Here, they have shown that Simon James’s imagined personality is his carbon copy. Very early on you get the notion that Simon is well on his way to a break-down, possibly habouring suicidal tendencies, either brought to his attention by his psych or people around him though he is in a state of denial. Since the split personality phenomenon is tied to the process of socialization, the original and his split personality are always at two opposite extremes of a personal identity. So while Simon James is an introverted, moral, shy, self-conscious, apologetic, hard-working, quiet, bullied and oppressed individual, his alter ego James Simon is an extroverted, immoral, confident, brash, loud, slack, bully. This idea will also explain why no-one can tell the difference between the two, even though they seem identical it is simply one being operating as two selves. Often people with such disorders also imagine themselves to be the only sane person in the room, which is the feeling you get when you compare Simon with everyone else, since you are seeing it from his POV.

Even though you assume the doppelganger is part of this imagination, you still don’t have a clear indication as to whether Simon’s interaction with other people is real or imagined. On one hand he could be interacting with real people who are unaware of his symptoms, and you assume that he is carted off to an asylum after his suicide. On the other hand his interaction with people could be imagined and it is highly possible that he is already being treated from the beginning to end of the movie in an asylum which is monitoring his behaviour in a controlled environment. Which means that the position of the people around him is the role his mind attaches to hospital representatives. Throughout the film you have subtle appearances/ mention of doctors/ caretakers. Hannah is always cloaked in white symbolic of an attendant, nurse or doctor at an institution/ asylum and the hint that maybe she is one of the kinder nurse’s in charge of Simon. In his state, he thus attaches a romantic notion to his imagined version of her. There are people constantly telling Simon that he doesn’t exist, that he’s not right which could represent hospital representatives trying to alert him to his problem or trying to contain him. Simon sees all these people as his oppressors. Most often in a personality disorder case, the host isn’t aware of his alter personality though at some times he is. In Simon’s case, it is the latter. Both Simon James and James Simon struggle with self-alienation and the need to become a subject and achieve a self identity, which suggests there isn’t room for the both of them. So we have the case of personality takeover. Normally in most cases it is the split personality which takes over while the good/main personality gives over and merges with it. However in rare cases, the good/main personality can take over as well. Simon doesn’t realize he is suffering from a split personality disorder, he thinks James is real and simply sees James as “the other” and wants to kill him/ alter personality to gain control over his (main) personality. In a personality disorder case, the host is generally unaware of the fact that by trying to hurt his alter personality he could hurt himself. In The Double, Simon’s desire to inflict self harm and suicide is because he realizes that James is somehow connected to him and physically susceptible to any injuries he inflicts on himself. On the whole however, he seems to believe that though he will kill his doppelganger, he will survive in the end. Which ironically he does.

Seeing Double? Real-ly?


A doppelganger is an exact double of an individual, either a ghostly apparition or one born in the flesh. Hello Jesse Eisenberg. You look hot and very very “solid” as both Simon and James! Doppelgangers are thought to be human in form but supernatural in occurrence. Now we assume that James Simon the doppelganger was “real” in the paranormal sense. Doppelganger origins are primarily thought to be supernatural which makes sense because no two people can be genetically alike unless something demonic is trying to replace you which can manifest itself into physical form. It can also explain why in The Double, the doppelganger James Simon, a manifestation of Simon, could dupe everyone except the original (Simon James) into thinking he simply looked “similar” to Simon and there wasn’t anything fishy in the works. From what we know about doppelgangers, it is German word for “double goer”. It is believed that most likely the original will come across their doppelganger at some point of time in his life. Scientists at the University Hospital in Geneva, Switzerland have discovered that electrical simulations in the brain can draw the original to the doppelganger (http://ghosts.monstrous.com/doppelgangers.htm). The Double is like the story of How Harry met Sally, only replace Harry and Sally with Simon and James. A doppelganger is said to be the evil twin of the original, reflecting an opposite personality and housing inverted moralities. Again haaaaaavvveeeee you met James Simon? He is a bad bad boy! A hot bad bad boy but a bad boy nevertheless! Doppelgangers are known to haunt their doubles and mislead them, giving bad advice and putting thoughts into their victims head. At first James seems to be good for Simon, someone who can pull him out of his shell, until we realize James is merely using Simon to take over his life. Doppelgangers are regarded as the harbinger of misfortune and bad luck and more significantly the omen of death usually because they intend to kill you and take your place. In taking over Simon’s life, James was killing Simon off as an identity and one can only imagine that he would kill Simon eventually and fully take his place. So the main question? How did Simon manage to kill James if they are indeed two separate people? Because of the doppelganger bond! Some legends have it that the doppelganger is connected to the person copied and that sometimes feelings of injury and pain may pass between the original and the doppelganger. So if Simon tries to kill himself, it is only likely that James will die. Which he manages to accomplish (because he is so updated on the way the paranormal doppelganger bond works. Probably had a futuristic vision of The Vampire Diaries). In the death of his double, for the first time in his life, Simon thinks of himself as “pretty unique” (I mean c’mon, he just survived a supernatural phenomenon. Bound to give anyone a boost!) suggesting that he is going to change the way he sees himself and in time his new found brand of self assertiveness would change the way the world sees him too.

If you are “seeing double”, worry not. Your doppelganger is probably not out to get you.

Maybe you just need to lay easy on the bottle.

Picture credits:


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