The 11th Nichi-Doku Joint Lecture on „Who are you? Questions from one’s other self, the Doppelgänger“ by Prof. Kuwabara (10/9・Heidelberg)

On October 9th the 11th Nichi-Doku Joint Lecture titled “Who are you? Questions from one’s other self, the Doppelgänger” was held at Heidelberg University.

In this lecture, Professor Tomoko Kuwabara (Graduate School of Education, Chair of Clinical Psychology, Kyoto University) considered the seemingly innocent question “What is the self?”

The phenomenon of the second self, or “Doppelgänger”, makes us doubt our “identity”, which we usually take for granted. She explained the phenomenon drawing on the Greek myth of Amphitryon, who meets Zeus in the guise of his mirror image.

The story has inspired playwrights to create tragedies and comedies alike. While in the tragic versions Amphitryon earnestly ponders the question of what his real self is, the comical versions ridicule how he abandons his identity for the sake of his beloved wife Alcmene.

People who meet their Doppelgänger become profoundly confused and ask themselves “If this other self is the real self”, who am I then?”

Prof. Kuwabara continued to address this issue by showing the audience slides from the Manga Demigod (Hanshin) by Moto Hagio.

She ended the lecture, saying she came to believe that people are capable of discovering inner kindness when accepting “the other” (e.g. inconvenient issues such as age and death) as part of their deeper selves.

The lecture was complemented by the commentary of Professor Dirk Hagemann (Section of Personality Research, Psychological Institute, Heidelberg University). He approached the question “Who are you?” from the perspective of ‘personality psychology’, which is prominent in Europe, and explained the darkness and unconscious aspect of the Doppelgänger.

The audience was captivated by the lecture, and following the Q and A session, discussion continued outside the venue.


Further information on the lecture and the program can be found here.

Prof. Kuwabara lecturing Commentator Prof. Hagemann After the lecture