Posted in Psychology & Medicine


There is a German word called weltschmerz, which translates into “world pain” or “weariness against the world”. This word describes sad emotions felt after realising that the material world cannot satisfy the mind and that the ideal, hypothetic utopia in your mind cannot exist. It also describes the sadness felt after realising that your weaknesses arose from physical and social conditions of the world. Weltschmerz was widely used by poets such as Lord Byron, mainly as a way of viewing the world. It is a very pessimistic view of the world that often leads to or associated with depression, resignation and escapism. In severe cases it may lead to mental disorders such as hikikomori (a social disorder where the person does not and cannot leave their room due to fear and disgust of the world, also known as agoraphobia).

Posted in History & Literature

Deal With The Devil

Faust is a famous German legend telling the tale of a man who sold his soul to the devil in a deal. The legend has been retold in many forms, in both literary and artistic forms, with the most famous versions being Christopher Marlowe’s and Goethe’s. The story goes as follows:

Faust was a very knowledgeable scholar who grew bored and disappointed of earthly knowledge. To seek more knowledge, he summons the devil, Mephistopheles. Mephistopheles proposes a deal to Faust, suggesting that he will serve Faust with his magical powers and with knowledge beyond this world. In exchange, after a certain amount of time has passed he would seize Faust’s soul and send him to damnation for eternity. 

After making this pact, Faust proceeds to satisfy his wants by using the devil’s powers. Eventually he seduces a beautiful, innocent girl by the name of Gretchen, but ends up destroying her life instead of living a happy life with her. However, she is saved by her innocence and ascends to heaven. 

Faust, with his term now over and about to burn in the eternal inferno of Hell, is saved by God’s grace via his constant striving. It is also said that his salvation is largely brought on by Gretchen, now a symbol of the Eternal Feminine, pleading to God to save Faust. 

Although this is the tale that is familiar in modern times, earlier versions of the Faust story end in damnation, with the devil carrying away Faust’s irrevocably corrupt soul. Faust accepts his sins and his punishments, regretting making a pact with the devil and destroying the life of his beloved Gretchen.
Faust serves to remind us that although every person has a right to be happy and satisfy their wants, there are boundaries that must be followed. By satisfying one’s needs and wants by destroying someone’s life and causing harm, one is subject to eternal punishment.

It is fascinating to see that one could go to such length to attain more knowledge. Is ultimate knowledge worth your soul being damned to eternity? Or is it wiser to accept that the only way to gain true knowledge is by continuously learning and thinking rather than finding a shortcut?

Posted in Psychology & Medicine


A doppelgänger is popularly known as a “double” of oneself, with the exact same appearance but usually with a completely different personality. 
It comes from German folklore (the word is German for “double walker”), where it is believed that seeing a doppelgänger is an omen of bad luck, possibly death. It is also said that meeting one’s own doppelgänger will result in one of the two dying. 
However, in modern times this concept of doppelgängers have been largely replaced by the first meaning, that of an alter ego who is only identical physically, and completely different persona-wise. This can sometimes overlap with the concept of an “evil twin”, as a doppelgänger is sometimes described to have an inverse personality, values and motives.

Although in most cases a doppelgänger is just a look-alike, it could be the result of the brain projecting an identical image of oneself in another space. 
It has been discovered that electrical stimulation of an area of the brain called the left temporoparietal junction causes the sensation that someone is next to you. This “someone” has the same shape and body posture as the subject, and is sometimes described as having a completely different personality. It is reported that this sensation is extremely unpleasant.
The cause of this phenomenon is that the area of the brain is associated with self-image, such as body posture, location and proprioception (sense of what oneself appears as in space). Therefore, a disruption leads to the self-image being projected elsewhere, which the brain then interprets as a doppelgänger.

There are similar mental disorders such as the Capgras delusion (belief that someone close has been replaced by a doppelgänger), Fregoli delusion (belief that many people are the same person in disguise) and subjective doubles (belief that one’s own doppelgänger is acting on its own to interfere with one’s life).

Doppelgängers are common plot devices in many works, especially fantasy and science fiction where the aforementioned “evil twin” concept is used. However, the doppelgänger may also be described as benevolent or simply a clone.
They are notably used in How I Met Your Mother, where each character has a doppelgänger completely different to their persona (e.g. Stripper Lily, Fertility Expert Barney).