An alter ego (Latin, "the other I") is a second self, which is believed to be distinct from a person's normal or original personality. A person who has an alter ego is said to lead a double life. The term appeared in common usage in the early 19th century when dissociative identity disorder was first described by psychologists. Cicero was the first to coin the term as part of his philosophical construct in 1st century Rome, but he described it as "a second self, a trusted friend".
A distinct meaning of alter ego can be found in literary analysis, wherein it describes characters in different works who are psychologically similar, or a fictional character whose behavior, speech or thoughts intentionally represent those of the author. It's also used to design the best friend of another character in a story. Similarly, the term alter ego may be applied to the role or persona taken on by an actor or by other types of performers.
The existence of "another self" was first recognized in the 1730s. Anton Mesmer used hypnosis to separate the alter ego. These experiments showed a behavior pattern that was distinct from the personality of the individual when he was in the waking state compared to when he was under hypnosis. Another character had developed in the altered state of consciousness but in the same body.
Alter ego is also used to refer to the different behaviors any person may display in certain situations. Related concepts include avatar, doppelgänger, impersonator, and Dissociative identity disorder (DID).
Alter egos are used by numerous performing artists who use stage or screen personas (which is different from stage names) both to entertain audiences and to explore new identities for themselves.
Comic performers also make use of alter egos as a part of their routines. The Marx Brothers performed throughout their careers as their vaudeville characters. For example, Julius Marx would play (and be credited as) Groucho, whether he was cast a professor (as in Horse Feathers), a veterinarian (A Day at the Races), or a president (Duck Soup). Standup comedians such as Don Rickles (Mr. Warmth) and Jackie Mason (Hartounian) can be said[by whom?] to have developed their shtick into distinct alter egos. Performer Andy Kaufman was chiefly known to fans through several characters, including the Foreign Man (later Latka Gravas), Tony Clifton, and Kaufman's impersonation of Elvis Presley. The biopic Man on the Moon depicts Kaufman as a man whose true identity was difficult to isolate, even by his close friends, because of the prevalence of these alter egos.
Professional wrestlers, more often than not, perform under ring names depicting alter egos, such as Terry Bollea (Hulk Hogan), Mark Calaway (The Undertaker), Paul Levesque (Triple H), Mike Mizanin (The Miz) and Phillip Brooks (CM Punk).
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
The title characters in Robert Louis Stevenson's thriller Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde represent an exploration of the concept that good and evil exist within one person, constantly at war. Edward Hyde literally represents the doctor's other self, a psychopath who is unrestrained by the conventions of civilized society, and who shares a body with the doctor.
The names "Jekyll and Hyde" have since become synonymous with a split personality or an alter ego that becomes capable of overpowering the original self.
Comic book usage
In Pre-Crisis comic books, superheroes and their secret identities are often considered alter egos. The archetypal comic book hero, Superman, assumes the identity of the "mild-mannered" newspaper reporter Clark Kent in order to live among the citizens of Metropolis without arousing suspicion. Whereas Clark Kent's true self is Superman (or rather the Kryptonian Kal-El), Batman is a character created by Bruce Wayne in order to disguise himself for the purposes of fighting crime. The Batman comics and movies such as Batman Begins have also explored the theme of the true self (Wayne) becoming lost in or giving himself over to the alter ego, much like the plot of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Post-Crisis comics flip this idea around for both superheroes. Superman becomes the persona that Clark Kent adopts in order to freely use his gifts to help the world without jeopardizing his friends, family and personal life. Conversely, carefree playboy billionaire Bruce Wayne becomes the alter ego necessary to hide the true persona of the crime-fighting Batman. The Incredible Hulk comic book series further complicates this theme, as Bruce Banner loses control to the Hyde-like Hulk whenever he becomes angry, yet also depends upon the Hulk's super powers in order to combat villains. Also the Batman villain Two-Face seems to split his alter-ego from Harvey Dent, whose personality changes from being judge-like to changing back to his Two-Face persona and being ruthless using his two-faced coin to determine life and death.
Comic book-inspired alter egos can be seen in other forms of popular fiction, including television and movie adaptations of comic books, parodies of this genre, and unrelated fictions such as Star Wars or Angel.
In Youth in Revolt, the protagonist Nick Twisp, played by Michael Cera, is a shy, socially inept teenager who is hopelessly in love with Sheeni Saunders. Twisp then creates an alter ego to help him win her love.
In The Double Life of Véronique, by Krzysztof Kieślowski two young women born on the same day, Véronique and Weronika, live a mysteriously interconected life, one in Paris and the other one in Poland with the vague and rarely expressed feeling that they are "not alone".
- Ego-state therapy
- Pen name
- Ring name
- Moniker (nickname)
- Mononymous person
- Stage name
- True self and false self
- Irving B. Weiner, Donald K. Freedheim (2003). Handbook of Psychology. John Wiley and Sons. p. 262. ISBN 0-471-17669-9.
- "Alter Ego". Collins English Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 10th Edition. William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 2009. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
- Glenn Daniel Wilson (1991). Psychology and Performing Arts. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 90-265-1119-1.
- Pedersen, David (1994). Cameral Analysis: A Method of Treating the Psychoneuroses Using Hypnosis. London, U.K.: Routledge. p. 20. ISBN 0-415-10424-6.
- The Wu-Tang Manual by The RZA with Chris Norris, ISBN 1-59448-018-4
- Urban Dictionary: hova
- Welcome to Larry Geller's Blog | My life experience as Elvis Presley's hairstylist, confidant & spiritual mentor; my thoughts on health, haircare & enlightenment
- Dan Gennoe (8 November 2004). "Jay Sean - Me Against Myself". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 2009-12-05.
- "JDevil". Dim Mak Records. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
- "Interview: Jonathan Davis of Korn Introduces J Devil". Artistdirect. Retrieved 2012-11-24.
- "Noisia invites J-Devil in Simplon en Iris van Herpen in Groninger Museum". RTVOOG. 2012-04-02. Retrieved 2012-11-24.
- Iron Man 2. Marvel. Oracle. Software. Hardware. Complete
|Formal name||Moniker/mononym/stage name||Alter ego(s)||Meaning or interpretation of alter ego(s)|
|Ben Haggerty||Macklemore||Raven Bowie||Raven Bowie is Macklemore's alter ego, Raven Bowie is a sex crazed man who dominated Macklemore’s previous song “And We Danced” off of the Unplanned mixtape.|
|Beyoncé Knowles||Formal first name Beyoncé||Sasha Fierce|
|Avril Lavigne||Avril||Abbey Dawn, Sk8er Girl, Punk Princess, Avie|
|The Beatles||Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band|
|Brian Warner||Marilyn Manson (alter ego)||Marilyn Manson||Manson has stated that he got the name for his alter ego by combining Marilyn Monroe's first name with Charles Manson's last.|
|Calvin Broadus||Snoop Dogg (or Snoop Doggy Dogg)||Snoop Lion, Nemo Hoes|
|Clifford Harris||T.I.||T.I.P., T.I.'s album T.I. vs T.I.P. even directly appropriates a Jekyll and Hyde plot.|
|Damon Albarn||Formal name||Carbs Neuman||Carbs his legend by the full name of "Dame Carbs Neuman Crane".|
|David Bowie||Formal name||Ziggy Stardust and The Thin White Duke|
|Donald Glover||Formal name||Childish Gambino|
|Dominick Wickliffe||Crooked I||Slaughterhouse|
|Dwayne Carter||Lil Wayne||Lil Tunechi, Weezy F. Baby|
|Freddie Mercury||Formal name||Mighty Mucker|
|Katheryn Hudson||Katy Perry||Kathy Beth Terry|
|Keith Thornton||Kool Keith||Dr. Octagon, Dr. Dooom, Black Elvis, Poppa Large|
|Madonna Ciccone||Formal first name Madonna||Boy Toy, Dita, Veronica Electronica, Esther, M-dolla, MDNA|
|Marshall Mathers||Eminem||Slim Shady, Ken Kaniff||Slim his antagonist, Ken his gay antagonist|
|Nasir Jones||Nas||Nas Escobar, Nasty Nas, Nastradamus & God’s Son.|
|Onika Maraj||Nicki Minaj||Cookie, Female Weezy, Lap Dance Nika, Martha Zolanski, Nicki Lewinsky, Nicki Minaj, Nicki Teresa, Nicki the Boss, Nicki the Ninja, Norman, Point Dexter, Roman Zolanski, Rosa, The Harajuku Barbie, and Tyrone.||Multiple alter egos|
|Robert Diggs||RZA||Known for having multiple aliases, for different lyrical styles and personalities: Prince Rakeem, The Abbot, Bobby Digital, Bobby Steels, the Scientist, Prince Delight, Prince Dynamite, Ruler Zig-Zag-Zig.|
|Scott Mescudi||Kid Cudi||Mr. Rager, Mr. Solo Dolo, Man on the Moon|
|Shakira Mebarak||Formal first name Shakira||She Wolf|
|Shawn Carter||Jay-Z||J-Hova (pronounced Jay-Hova)||Considers himself "God" of rap, "They call me J-Hova cause tha flow is religious.". Jehovah is another name for God. Also note that Jay-Z, pronounced Jay Cee for JC, is the slang reference of Jesus Christ.|
|Stefani Germanotta||Lady Gaga||Jo Calderone (male), Yüyi the Mermaid. Alter egos in single roles include Candy Warhol, Gaga Panda, Drunky Gaga, Skeleton Gaga, Mother Monster, Mary Magdalene, Bride, Barn Hooker, Inez Doppelgänger, Nymhn, and Mother.||Jo her gay male, Yüyi the Mermaid for her production team, Mermaid Music LLC|
|Tila Nguyen||Tila Tequila (and Miss Tila)||Jane Cordovez|
|Tim Chantarangsu||Traphik||Timothy DeLaGhetto|
|William Griffin||Rakim||Rakim, Ra, R.A.K.I.M., The Master, The God Emcee (or God MC), The God|
|Britney Spears||Formal name||Formerly Britannia, Mona Lisa, The Femme Fatale||Spears stated in interviews that Mona Lisa co-directed the video to her 2005 single "Do Somethin'". She later on released a song to the radio called Mona Lisa, without the permission of her label to release it. The song was re-recorded and released on her debut EP "& Kevin: Chaotic.|
|Christina Aguilera||Formal name and alter egos||Xtina ( Stripped), Baby Jane (Back to Basics), Madame X (Bionic)|
|Elvis Presley||Formal name, and King of Rock and Roll or the King||Jesse Garon||Elvis stated "Ya know, I can remember when I was just a little guy, couldn’t’ have been more’n four or five years old, I heard a voice talkin’ to me, like it was in my head. I just figured it was my twin brother Jesse Garon. But I never told anyone – not even my mom. It was like a special secret between Jesse and me."|
|Jay Sean||Formal name||Jay Sean made innovative use of an alter ego in Me Against Myself, where his two personae, one an R&B singer and the other a rapper, clash in a rap battle.|
|Janet Jackson||Formal name||Miss Jackson, Janet, Strawberry, Damita Jo|
|Jennifer Lopez||Formal name||J.Lo, Lola|
|Jimi Hendrix||Formal name||"He used to always talk about some devil or something was in him, you know. He didn’t know what made him act the way he acted and what made him say the things he said, and the songs and different things like that … just came out of him. It seems to me he was so tormented and just torn apart and like he really was obsessed, you know, with something really evil." - Jimi Hendrix's girlfriend, Fayne Pridgon|
|Jonathon Davis||Jonathon Davis (Korn) JDevil (DJ)||JDevil (also J Devil)||As JDevil, Davis is an Electronic dance music (EDM) producer, DJ, and performer. As he states in an interview, he has combined initials (JD), and 'evil' into 'JDevil'. He has nicknamed his wife, Deven, Devil, which also is a part of JDevil moniker. Jonathan has always been fascinated by the devil and JDevil's persona embraces the idea of being the "antichrist of EDM". An anagram of JDevil is live DJ.|
|Justin Bieber||Formal name||Kidrauhl/Shawty Mane/Jason Deeps/Jason McCann/Dr. Bieber/Jason McCann|
|Kylie Minogue||Formal name or simply Kylie||Aphrodite|
|Larry Ellison||Oracle, Iron Man||Oracle Corporation (Larry Ellisons) technologies are used by Marvel Entertainment to produce super hero movies. Ellison was in a cameo of Iron Man 2.|
|Lindsay Lohan||Formal name||Diane, Margot|
|Mariah Carey||Formal name||Bianca, Mimi|
|Miley Cyrus||Formal name||Hannah Montana (pop star secret identity) and Miley Ray Stewart (normal teenage girl)||Formal musical artist name and Hannah Montana as actor|
|Paris Hilton||Formal name||DJ|
|Sacha Baron Cohen||Alter egos||Ali G, Borat Sagdiyev, Brüno and Admiral General Aladeen|
|Sean Combs||Formal name||Puff, Puffy, Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, Diddy, King Combs|
|Kim Kardashian||Formal name||Princess Jasmine|
|Vickie Lynn Marshall||Anna Nicole Smith||Vickie Lynn Marshall (when married to Marshall), Vickie Lynn Smith (consideration moniker), Vickie Smith (early Playboy career)|
|Vincent Damon Furnier||Alice Cooper||The Nazz|
|Ralph Karingombe||Formal name||Pazok, Omviv, Tandeka, Vivian,|
|Tyler Okonma||Tyler, the Creator||Wolf Haley, Ace, the Creator, Tron Cat, Dr. TC|
|Joanne Rowling||J.K Rowling||Robert Galbraith||Rowling wrote a crime novel under the alter ego 'Robert Galbraith'|