Heautoscopy

Heautoscopy refers to the strange experience of seeing a double of oneself. The double may attract the person's identity, leading to the weird illusion of being changed into the double and seeing one's left and lifeless former body from outside. The self may vacillate between the two instantations of the same person, possessing each of them in turn. Heautoscopic experiences are often associated with fear and suicidal ideations.

The view of the double may be incomplete, but in most instances it includes the face. The double usually wears clothes that are frequently the same as those that the person wears when seeing the double. In patients with repeated heautoscopic experiences the dress ofthe double may thus change clothes between appearances.

Heautoscopic phenomena demonstrate that persons can produce mental images of their own visual appearance. It seems doubtful whether the mental representations underlying these images have much in common with the mental representations involved in phantom experiences and personal neglect. Their emphasis is on clothes and the face much more than on the spatial structure and configuration of the body. In any event, they reflect day-to-day changes of one's visual appearance in addition to permanent knowledge about one's body.

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