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Familiarity and people who remind you of other people - paradolia or apophenia?

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posted on Feb, 11 2009 @ 12:26 PM
First, apologies if this is in the wrong section - mods feel free to move it.

I want to address something I've wondered about for a long time. Due to its subjective nature I've had no luck finding any info about it anywhere, but I imagine it must be a subject that philosophers and psychologists have written about before. I just can't think of any keywords to search for that have ever bore any fruit.

What I'm talking about is the notion, usually when meeting someone new, that they remind you of someone you already know. Is there a specific term for this? It's almost certainly 'coincidence', but I would like this thread to address alternatives to that notion.

SO... I'll address the 'mundane' aspects first. I've noticed this 'phenomena' from time to time my whole life, but at times when I have moved to another city or changed schools, it 'went through the roof'. A psychologist would probably say that this is simply the mind's way of comforting the ego, in an attempt to make one feel as if they are surrounded by familiarity.

I believe that this is how the mind works - that the universe is one giant pattern that repeats itself over and over within, and that our minds and senses are filters that discard instances of the pattern that aren't 'important'.

I think these similarities between different people do exist, but most of the time we don't notice them. And it's not like I'm consciously thinking every time I meet someone new, "who does this person remind me of?" ...It just sort of happens. And moreso when I'm in a new environment.

NOW... when you consider all of the things about a person that can make them seem familiar, how likely is it to be truly a coincidence? Sometimes it has very little to do with the way they look; it can happen with two people of different racial/cultural heritage and have to do strictly with personality. Face shape and features, body type, ethnicity, mannerisms, vocal traits, personality etcetera may or may not come into play - sometimes someone just seems 'familiar'.

I also think that some people are more 'sensitive' to noticing this kind of thing, but I think that depends on how 'observant' they might be. I'm a visual artist and a cartoonist so I tend to notice details about people that I think others don't.

Am I noticing something else? I don't see 'auras' but it has occurred to me that it may have something to do with their 'astrological' makeup, or something similar, like past lives or something more esoteric.

Has anyone else ever thought about this? Is there any recommended reading on the subject anyone can point me in the direction of?

I'm interested in hearing from anyone about this but like I've illustrated, I'm well aware of Occam's Razor and the way mainstream science would explain it, so while appreciated, replies along those lines aren't really on-topic here. I'm not looking for 'proof', and I really don't have a belief-system to 're-enforce', I'm simply interested in SPECULATION and alternative theories here.

posted on Feb, 11 2009 @ 12:39 PM
reply to post by Teratoma

I totally agree.
When i have moved cities I have noticed that as well and sometimes my new friends were just like my old friends.
I can usually put people into catagories and be fairly accurate.
As I have grown into my thirties I have been less accurate but nevertheless it is still applying.
I can usually tell how a personality type would act and react based on knowing someone just like them in the past.
I think there is something to this for sure.
I once told a girl everything about her life even though I just met her 15 mins ago in a bar.
I am not a mindreader I just knew one of her before so it was predictable for me.
To her it was something amazing.
Sorry I can't give you proof only my opinion.

[edit on 11-2-2009 by DrumsRfun]

posted on Feb, 11 2009 @ 12:49 PM
reply to post by Teratoma

This is so weird I had this happen to me! I was in Somerfield doing my shopping when I saw a women who was just like someone I do Business with in Copenhagen except she had dark hair, this happens to me often.

posted on Feb, 11 2009 @ 12:57 PM
Thanks for the reply, DrumsRFun. Don't worry, like I said, "proof" is not so important to me - discussion and ideas are. Proving them is only part of 'denying ignorance', and that part is for another thread.

What I have noticed though, is how it seems almost overwhelming at first, then starts to lay off after the newness of the location wears off.

But yes, I've been able to 'read faces' - even from photos, much the same way. I never thought of it as anything hokus-pokus, I just chalked it up to being very observant. But why do 'types' exist? shouldn't personality traits be just as numerous as people?

posted on Feb, 11 2009 @ 01:10 PM
Teratoma... This happens to me more than just often. This happens to me several times a day. I recognized this strange sense of "Familiarity" at a very young age and assumed it was normal. As I grew older and spoke freely about this with close friends I quickly discovered that this is much deeper than simple deja vu.

Some theories on this. Scientists have created mathmetical models to image the face - they use ratios. I often wonder if I am mathetically decoding these ratios in my subconscious and matching them up to people with similar models??? Psychologists have created valid and reliable ways of measuring and categorizing personality, like Meyers-Briggs. Am I somehow recognizing, subconsciously, these personality patterns and correlating them? Mysticists and New Age practioners believe that we radiate energy at different frequencies depending on mood, state of mind etc... Am I picking up and that?

I cannot put my finger on what it is exactly. But I know when I meet people that I am able to very quickly compare and categorize them with others I have met before just like them.

Good thread. I will be following this with much interest.

posted on Feb, 11 2009 @ 01:11 PM
I get this alot too, both ways. Great thread idea, I will be reading.

posted on Feb, 11 2009 @ 01:41 PM
I did several quick Google searches for pertinent information, but I haven't been able to locate anything of substance. I know this is a common experience, so I'm a bit baffled as to why it's so difficult to find anything more than science articles (the content of which we're already aware of) relating to it.

I seem to be suffering from a perpetual return of deja vu--it really is an every day occurrence for me, though some instances are more intense than others. I don't have any history of mental illness, am quite mentally stable, happy and social, so any explanation of that sort seems to be unlikely. My experience with this feeling of familiarity or deja vu is not entirely in line with yours, though. My mind does not connect a feeling of familiarity to a stranger with a memory of someone I've known in the past. It's a feeling of (I wish there was a better way to explain this) "I know your spirit." Replace "spirit" with "mind", "soul", "aura", "being", whatever you like, but it is a general feeling of intimacy with someone I have never, to my knowledge, been acquainted with. Physical appearance seems to be insignificant.

posted on Feb, 11 2009 @ 01:43 PM
Great feedback everyone!

Vesta - do you travel a lot for work? I imagine it would occur quite a bit for someone who spent a lot of time away from home.

Kosmo - a star for that. Scientific and speculative. Goes right along with my 'giant pattern' theory.

We tend to think of our senses as our what give us info, but lately I've been thinking that they do more to filter it or take it away.

posted on Feb, 11 2009 @ 01:45 PM
Very nice topic!
yes I know what you mean. I have noticed the simularities in people and lately Im trying to compare with people I know.
It can be a certain look, character, behaviour etc. Just something specific.
Im a visual type of person, making money with art.
Also sometimes I can zoom in to photos with my mind and see the complete character, sickness, problems etc. I dont know if its paranormal and I dont care at all how its been called. Its fun to do, only hard to check if its true. There have been readings from pictures that where very acurate. Somethimes I wish I had more time for this stuff.
Anyway S&F for this thread.

posted on Feb, 11 2009 @ 01:47 PM
Well, in regard to your statement, "shouldnt personality types be as numerous as individuals" (or something to that effect) you are assuming true individuality.

Bear in mind that some philosophies, (those that propose "oneness" or a collective unconscious) do not agree with "true individuality."

Not to mention the scientific fact that we share far more DNA than that which is unique to us as individuals.

Perhaps human beings are simply not as truly individual as we like to think.

Throw into the mix culture, learned social behaviors, trends, etc, and you get a lot of things that lead up to "new" people seeming quite familiar.

[edit on 11-2-2009 by Illusionsaregrander]

posted on Feb, 11 2009 @ 01:58 PM
reply to post by paperplanes

Thanks for that. It's a hard thing to search for because any keywords I can think of bring up scores of things that may be related, but nothing specific. I imagine somebody somewhere must've coined a term or phrase for it - if I only knew what it was. Part of my reason for posting I guess.

But no, I may not have articulated it well enough but what you're describing is exactly what I'm talking about. It often does have to do with their physical appearance, but I'll go so far as to say that could be a 'side-effect' of the phenomena. I think that the spirit or soul or what have you has a certain amount of influence over our physical appearance too. But I've experienced it with two (or more) people who look nothing alike, from different ethic or cultural backgrounds.

I think it's hard to explain for most people, but the concept of "looking like someone" or "reminding you of someone" aren't necessarily interchangeable - and what we're describing is definitely more the latter.

posted on Feb, 11 2009 @ 02:08 PM
This is strange because the feeling of "familiarity" occurs on many levels. I keep using quotes around "familiarity" because that is the best word that describes the feeling but even that does not do the feeling justice.

The differing levels that I experience this feeling are a.) physical recognition; seeing the same smile on different people or recognizing a type of nose or seeing a collection of physical features that I have seen "grouped" on someone else and being able to solidly identify them. b.) Social recognition; feeling like we have met before or shared a common experience together even though I know that we never physically met before - at least not in this existence. c.) Spiritual recognition; a sense that we are somehow connected through a mechanism that I can neither identify or understand but feeling, deep inside of me, that the connection exists.

Could any of this be somehow a manifestitation of the sixth sense that we all supposedly have? And that we are possibly much more attuned to it? IS it a result of reincarnation? Precognition? Personality? Or, perhaps, psychosis?

A note to add, it isn't always people either - sometimes it is places or situations. Sometimes the feeling is so intense that I cannot tell if perhaps I had a dream of precognition that I am recalling as the actual event is occuring or a feeling of deja vu because I am recalling the emotions of a similar event? I have walked into places or seen pictures of places with absolute certainty that I have never been there before, yet, I feel as though I have. Or I know something about the place that I would only know had I been there before, but yet, I know I have not been there - not in this lifetime or this existence.

I realize I am babbling a bit here - but this thread hits a real nerve with me and I feel compelled to dump my thoughts on this topic as quickly as they come.

posted on Feb, 11 2009 @ 02:21 PM
Babble and dump away! That's what the thread's for! I've been meaning to post this for some time; indeed it's one of the reasons I joined - to find people who can relate to things like this that occupy my thoughts a great deal.

I agree, sometimes it's just 'familiarity', I feel - but not with any specific 'original'. That, I neglected to include. More often than not I can identify exactly who someone reminds me of, but sometimes it's just a feeling that I 'know' them.

posted on Feb, 11 2009 @ 02:45 PM
What a cool post!

It's strange because i've wondered about the same thing. Actually it was a couple of years ago that i really started to think about it...then i kinda forgot and it went to the back of my mind, but it's cool to think about it again. said that you moved around and perhaps it was your mind forming some kind of comfort to you. I have never moved anywhere and its happened to me very intensely. Maybe it's that you don't expect to see anyone "familiar" when you move somewhere else, so it's even more shocking when when you do.

I had this philosophical debate in my mind about it...this may sound odd to you, or maybe not, i don't know, but this is what i think...

People are just copies of each other but with slight variantions, like clones, but with little differences. So when you meet people they can either remind you of yourself or someone else. Even if they share no relatives with you.

Ok for the weird stuff now...i tend to go off on bizzare philosophical tangents...

I was thinking about reality...the perseption of it...and time...and how that could relate to this. Since i believe that everyone had their own individual time, like my time in my reality is different to everyone elses on the planet, even if we go by GMT or whatever, thats so we all keep in sync. But everyone has their own individual time in their reality because although we may be like clones in many ways we still have our individual bodies. i was thinking maybe when we see someone "familiar" that IS actually the person that they remind you of, but in a different time. And that time would either be that persons past or future self, but never the present self, or even a variation of the present self, because only that individual can be their present self.

YES i know that sounds weird...i can't say i believe that, it's just some thought in my head. I have no idea if you will get what i mean, i'm bad at explaining things sometimes. Thought i would share with you anyways.

posted on Feb, 11 2009 @ 03:22 PM
reply to post by Teratoma

I have noticed this effect for most of my life, moving from place to place. I recently moved 450 miles away from the place I had lived for 30 years or so. Here, in my new home, there are a lot of people who look like and act like people I knew back home. also, I am always running into people who I just "know," even though I have never met them anywhere.

I think this is memories from past lives, as we always reincarnate with the same folks who were our good friends, and the same family members, and always in the same sun sign. One woman I recently met in the local library looked at me like I was a long lost brother, and then told me that she had seen me on a spacecraft a few years ago during an abduction scenario. She looked very familiar to me. If the cycle of birth/rebirth keeps on going as it has for millions of years now, soon when we are born we will know everyone, and there will be no secrets anymore. time to break free!

posted on Feb, 11 2009 @ 07:42 PM
reply to post by Mesdoline

Actually, you sound a lot like me. I have plenty of theories that I don't necessarily 'believe' - some contradict each other so without more data I won't 'commit'.

But what you posted resonates with a field of study I'm just getting into recently. All that jive about 'individuality' and/or 'oneness' has crossed my mind many times when I've considered the topic we're discussing. I wish I understood it enough to be able to elaborate a bit more, and perhaps soon I will. The funny thing is that when I really start contemplating these things - especially when you throw in the concept of the 'illusion of time', it's like someone hits my 'reset button' and I lose my train of thought altogether!

But I have been talking to someone here who has been patient enough to personally talk me through it, in a way that is making sense. I'm about to send him a U2U about this thread, so hopefully he'll join the discussion.

Thanks everyone for your input; I'm happy to hear that it's something others can relate to.

posted on Feb, 12 2009 @ 02:33 AM
I am really good at reading people. I have had people tell me I must be a little phycic becaus a look and a few words and I know the life story. How they will react to things, some of the stuff they have been through. I may be empatihic but I think it is more of a good understanding of people.

People are all the same for the most part. You have little groups you can sort each one into and while sometimes you get a surprise most of the time you don't. Other than body chemistry shaping what group we can be put into life experiance will also affect some of how a person is. That is the stuff you get from the eyes and body movement.

People remind you of other people because they are like other people you have encountered and I know people will tell me everyone is an individual and in specific they are but in general they are not. Everyone is part of one herd or another, you may be the bull or just a steer but even the loners that only play by their own rules fall into the loners that only play by their own rules group.

posted on Feb, 12 2009 @ 02:51 AM
I tend to put people into categories according to their familiar features. I don't do this intentionally, it just happens. I moved around a lot, in fact I went to 12 different schools from K-12, so I have seen a lot of faces. Every person I see, my mind goes immediately to the familiar person I have in my mind file. Then I compare them. I don't think I've ever come across anyone that I didn't have a mind file for. I might mentally move one person to another mind file according to similarities. I guess it's like branching off.

Maybe I'm weird?

posted on Feb, 12 2009 @ 05:34 AM
This is a little out there and I hope I can articulate what I'm thinking....

Consider the idea of a multiverse. One where every possible outcome does happen. Perhaps there are zillions of you and they aren't 'out there' somewhere, they are right here next to you. Imagine a sphere and making tiny slices. They exisit right here where your current conciousness is in other diminsions. Space and time are tricky and perhaps you have seen/met these people in a nanosecond right after you did in an alternate reality.

If you want to take this just a little further, I think it's possible to 'slide' or move your conciousness to another reality. Think laws of attraction. Have you ever had one of those moments (usually during a crisis) where time seems to slow way down, making your reaction time to increase in an almost matrixy kinda way? For example, when I was a young girl I was attempting to dive off a board that was out in the middle of the lake. As I approached for my dive my foot slipped and my left went under the board and there was just enough room for my leg to go between some metal supports and the board. At that moment, time seemed to stretch on and on - that slowing of time enabled me to see my leg, and bend in towards my body diverting a possible compound fracture that would have led to sever injury or death. And perhaps I did die in that reality but, my conciousness 'slid' into dimension.

Intresting thread and I love hearing everyones opinions!

posted on Feb, 12 2009 @ 05:35 AM
reply to post by Whisper67

how about we consider the idea of reincarnation? It seems to explain a lot.

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