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Doppelganger Syndrome

Today I was poking around the interwebs looking to find any type of medical explanation for Ms. Sagee’s condition. I found this on Wikipedia and quoted it below. However, this does not explain how her students were able to see (and feel) her double.

The syndrome of subjective doubles is a rare delusional misidentification syndrome in which a person experiences the delusion that he or she has a double or Doppelgänger with the same appearance, but usually with different character traits and leading a life of its own. Sometimes the patient has the idea that there is more than one double. The syndrome is usually the result of a neurological disorder, mental disorder or some form of brain damage, particularly to the right cerebral hemisphere. In some cases, the syndrome (also referred to as syndrome of Christodoulou) may be the result of delusional elaboration of autoscopic phenomena.

Sometimes the delusion takes the form of a conviction that whole or part of the patient’s personality has been transferred into another person. In this case depersonalization may be a symptom. One example from medical literature is of a man who became depersonalized after an operation and was convinced his brain had been placed into someone else’s head. He later claimed he recognized this person.

Oh dear. That’s all good and fine but I prefer something a little less clinical. For example the Norwegian Vardøger, the Irish Fetch, or even this.


Emilie Sagée

I came across the case of Emilie Sagée five years ago and worked it into my screenplay, The Fetch, the story of a teacher at who is haunted by her double. Set in an all-girls school outside of Philadelphia in the Fairmount Park area the screenplay incorporated pieces of the strange story, including the bit about the students who actually reached out and touched their teacher’s doppelganger. has quite an extensive account of this well-documented case.

One of the most documented cases of a doppelganger is the case of Emilie Sagee, a French woman who had lost 18 jobs in 16 years because of her evil twin. Emilee had taken a job at an exclusive school for the daughters of nobility where she became very popular with the students. Before long however, rumors began to circulate that Emilie could be in two places at the same time. Students claimed that during a French lesson, Emilee had been at the front of the class writing the lesson on the blackboard. With her back toward the children, an exact duplicate of her appeared about 3 feet from her. Mimicking her every move, the doppelganger appeared as an exact twin, dress and all, except the doppelgangers writing movements on the board produced no text because there was no chalk in her hand. Students also told stories of Emilee’s doppelganger roaming the school halls while Emilee was in her room fast asleep.

In another instance, witnessed by nearly 50 persons, the students were intently working in their sewing class while another teacher sat at the front of the room reading a book. Outside the window, the students could see Emilee working in the garden. The supervising teacher stood up and left the room. Seconds later, Emilee walked in and sat down in the empty chair. Students thought nothing of it until one gasped and pointed out the window where Emilee was still working diligently in the garden. Two of the students stood and approached the doppelganger and being quite brave, reached out and touched it. They said it looked just like Emilee Sagee in all aspects except when they ran their hands through the entity, they said it felt empty, like the stuff cobwebs are made of. Later Emilee Sagee had told school officials that she indeed had been outside picking flowers in the garden. She had not seen the doppelganger (in fact, Emilee never once saw her twin) but had in fact, wished to herself that she was in the classroom supervising the sewing class. School officials noted in their documentation that each time the doppelganger appeared to them, the real Emilee appeared lethargic and listless. Parents complained about the ghost and Emilee was summarily dismissed from her job.

Bill Shears and I reworked the screenplay into a novel, The Doppelganger Song. Emilie became Emma, the teacher at an all-girls school in the Bronx and Frank and Holly, a detective couple are called in to investigate when she falls from a window in what seems to be an attempt at suicide.