Or should I just contact the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows guy?
April 17, 2015 1:51 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a term (either a neologism or something that already exists) for a person who so precisely resembles someone from your past, someone whose relationship with you is unresolved and will never be resolved, that they drag up all the feelings associated with that person despite having no actual connection to them. Stuff like "dead ringer," "spitting image," "doppelganger," etc. only covers the appearance, not the emotion.
posted by Spathe Cadet to Writing & Language (14 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I want to say repetition compulsion but that's not quite it.

emotional echo?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:02 PM on April 17, 2015

Best answer: Schadengeist
posted by 256 at 2:03 PM on April 17, 2015 [5 favorites]

Heart's ghost.
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:06 PM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Imago To paraphrase a therapist:
We subconciously seek out a romantic partner who embodies the conflicts of our early life, with the hidden hope to 'win' or resolve those conflicts in a more satisfactory way this time around.
That's a lot to hang on somebody else - and a reasonable explanation (to me) of how I've made incredibly poor relationship choices in the past.
posted by j_curiouser at 2:41 PM on April 17, 2015 [7 favorites]

Dead horse.
posted by Hermione Granger at 2:43 PM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Neologistically, a Madeleine.
Not because of Proust's cookie, though that's probably the intentional resonance. Rather because of Kim Novak's character in Hitchock's Vertigo.
posted by third rail at 2:49 PM on April 17, 2015 [7 favorites]

An Avatar?
posted by Cold Lurkey at 3:34 PM on April 17, 2015

The term for the process itself would be transference, but for the person, I think i_curiouser has it with "imago".
posted by Ender's Friend at 4:07 PM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I was maybe trying too hard to be concise.

The prompting situation:

1) I have a non-romantic friendship that is intense and then ends weirdly, where I'm hurt, and then after a bit we're still technically friends, but we were never close friends again and the injury was never directly discussed or apologized for or anything.

2) Twenty years pass. I gradually come to think about this less often, to the point where it's more or less forgotten.

3) I'm flipping through photos on Flickr (well, actually TinEye) for a project and run across a photo of a person in his early to mid 20s who looks uncannily like the friend, which reminds me of the weirdness twenty years prior all over again, which would otherwise never have come to mind.

So it's not an imago or transference in the way I'm understanding the word from googling it: not romantic, the relationship didn't repeat with anyone else, it's intense but not especially painful, and there's no actual relationship with the doppelganger. (If imago will stretch to cover this situation, say so.)

Madeline or schadengeist are closest to what I was aiming for, I think, and either would probably suffice for my purposes, but the former is weird to use for a guy in the intended context, and the latter maybe overstresses the harm, when to me the resemblance is what's notable.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 5:25 PM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by jamjam at 7:09 PM on April 17, 2015

From your update, I would just call this a ghost from one's past.
posted by jessicapierce at 8:52 PM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Emotional avatar, emotional archetype,
posted by Oyéah at 9:21 PM on April 17, 2015

Best answer: Simulacrum.

Or, more supernaturally, revenant.
posted by tel3path at 5:34 AM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Saudade is in the neighborhood. Though the person that brings it back would be, like, an avatar of saudade or something.
posted by mermaidcafe at 5:53 AM on April 18, 2015

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