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The term "déjà vu" (IPA:/deʒa vy/) (French for "already seen", also called paramnesia) describes the experience or feeling that one has witnessed or experienced a new situation previously or has uncanny recognition and familiarity in a new place. The term was coined by a French psychic researcher, Émile Boirac (1851–1917) in his book L'Avenir des sciences psychiques (The Future of Psychic Sciences), which expanded upon an essay he wrote while an undergraduate French concentrator at the University of Chicago. The experience of déjà vu is usually accompanied by a compelling sense of familiarity, and also a sense of "eeriness", "strangeness", or "weirdness". The "previous" experience is often attributed to a dream, although in some cases there is a firm sense that the experience "genuinely happened" in the past. Déjà vu has been described as "remembering the future (in 1895 F. W. H. Myers coined the term "promnesia" to emphasize this aspect of many déjà vu experiences)."
Of course, this phenomenon existed very long ago, though researchers started considering it only in the 19th century. Scientists, psychologists, psychiatrists, even tried to define what it is and how it is happening. For example, Sigmund Freud also paid much attention to déjà vu, considering it as a kind of psychopathology, like schizophrenia [How to reference and link to summary or text]. The experience of déjà vu seems to be very common; in formal studies roughly 70% of the population report having experienced it at least once. References to the experience of déjà vu are also found in literature of the past (going all the way back to St. Augustine), indicating it is not a new phenomenon. It has been extremely difficult to invoke the déjà vu experience in laboratory settings, therefore making it a subject of few empirical studies. Recently, researchers have found ways to recreate this sensation using hypnosis. and neurosurgery.
- 1 Types of déjà vu
- 2 Scientific research
- 3 Related phenomena
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Types of déjà vu[edit | edit source]
According to Arthur Funkhouser there are three major types of déjà vu.
Déjà vécu[edit | edit source]
Usually translated as 'already lived,' déjà vécu is described in a quotation from Charles Dickens:
|“||We have all some experience of a feeling, that comes over us occasionally, of what we are saying and doing having been said and done before, in a remote time – of our having been surrounded, dim ages ago, by the same faces, objects, and circumstances – of our knowing perfectly what will be said next, as if we suddenly remember it!||”|
When most people speak of déjà vu, they are actually experiencing déjà vécu. Surveys have revealed that as much as 70% of the population have had these experiences, usually between ages 15 to 25, when the mind is still subjectable to noticing the change in environment. The experience is usually related to a very ordinary event, but it is so striking that it is remembered for several years afterwards.
Déjà vécu refers to an experience involving more than just sight, which is why labeling such "déjà vu" is usually inaccurate. These experiences often involve a great amount of detail, sensing that everything is just as it was before and are frequently accompanied by an uncanny knowledge of what is going to be said or happen next.
More recently, the term déjà vécu has been used to describe very intense and persistent feelings of a déjà vu type, which occur as part of a memory disorder.
Déjà senti[edit | edit source]
This phenomenon specifies something 'already felt.' Unlike the implied precognition of déjà vécu, déjà senti is primarily or even exclusively a mental happening, has no precognitive aspects, and rarely if ever remains in the afflicted person's memory afterwards.
Dr. John Hughlings Jackson recorded the words of one of his patients who suffered from temporal lobe or psychomotor epilepsy in an 1889 paper:
|“||What is occupying the attention is what has occupied it before, and indeed has been familiar, but has been for a time forgotten, and now is recovered with a slight sense of satisfaction as if it had been sought for. ... At the same time, or ... more accurately in immediate sequence, I am dimly aware that the recollection is fictitious and my state abnormal. The recollection is always started by another person's voice, or by my own verbalized thought, or by what I am reading and mentally verbalize; and I think that during the abnormal state I generally verbalize some such phrase of simple recognition as 'Oh yes – I see', 'Of course – I remember', but a minute or two later I can recollect neither the words nor the verbalized thought which gave rise to the recollection. I only find strongly that they resemble what I have felt before under similar abnormal conditions.||”|
As with Dr. Jackson's patient, some temporal-lobe epileptics may experience this phenomenon.
Déjà visité[edit | edit source]
This experience is less common and involves an uncanny knowledge of a new place. The translation is "already visited." Here one may know his or her way around in a new town or landscape while at the same time knowing that this should not be possible.
Dreams, reincarnation and also out-of-body travel have been invoked to explain this phenomenon. Additionally, some suggest that reading a detailed account of a place can result in this feeling when the locale is later visited. There are two famous examples of such a situation . One was described by Nathaniel Hawthorne in his autobiographical book Our Old Home and the other by Sir Walter Scott in his novel Guy Mannering. On a trip to England, Hawthorne recognized some rooms in the ruins of a castle there and later was able to trace the memories to a piece written about the castle by Alexander Pope two hundred years earlier. In Guy Mannering, the main character returned to the homestead in Scotland that he was kidnapped from while still a young boy. There he had a sense of inexplicalbe familiarity, but it clear to the reader why that was.
In order to distinguish déjà visité from déjà vécu, it is important to identify the source of the feeling. Déjà vécu is in reference to the temporal occurrences and processes, while déjà visité has more to do with geography and spatial relationships.
Scientific research[edit | edit source]
In recent years, déjà vu has been subjected to serious psychological and neurophysiological research. The most likely explanation of many instances of déjà vu is that they are not acts of "precognition" or "prophecy", but rather anomalies of memory; They are impressions that an experience is "being recalled". [How to reference and link to summary or text] This explanation is substantiated by the fact that the sense of "recollection" at the time is strong in most cases, but that the circumstances of the "previous" experience (when, where and how the earlier experience occurred) are quite uncertain. Likewise, as time passes, subjects can exhibit a strong recollection of having the "unsettling" experience of déjà vu itself, but little to no recollection of the specifics of the event(s) or circumstance(s) they were "remembering" when they had the déjà vu experience. In particular, this may result from an overlap between the neurological systems responsible for short-term memory (events which are perceived as being in the present) and those responsible for long-term memory (events which are perceived as being in the past).
Another theory being explored is that of vision. As the theory suggests, one eye may record what is seen fractionally faster than the other, creating that "strong recollection" sensation upon the "same" scene being viewed milliseconds later by the opposite eye. Of course, when blind people experience déjà vu this explanation cannot hold.
Links with disorders[edit | edit source]
A clinical correlation has been found between the experience of déjà vu and disorders such as schizophrenia and anxiety, and the likelihood of the experience considerably increases with subjects having these conditions. However, the strongest pathological association of déjà vu is with temporal lobe epilepsy. This correlation has led some researchers to speculate that the experience of déjà vu is possibly a neurological anomaly related to improper electrical discharge in the brain. As most people suffer a mild (i.e. non-pathological) epileptic episode regularly (e.g. the sudden "jolt", a hypnagogic jerk, that frequently occurs just prior to falling asleep), it is conjectured that a similar (mild) neurological aberration occurs in the experience of déjà vu, resulting in an erroneous sensation of memory.
Pharmacology[edit | edit source]
It has been reported that certain recreational drugs increase the chances of déjà vu occurring in the user. Some pharmaceutical drugs, when taken together, have also been implicated in the cause of déjà vu. Taiminen and Jääskeläinen (2001) reported the case of an otherwise healthy male who started experiencing intense and recurrent sensations of déjà vu on taking the drugs amantadine and phenylpropanolamine together to relieve flu symptoms. He found the experience so interesting that he completed the full course of his treatment and reported it to the psychologists to write-up as a case study. Due to the dopaminergic action of the drugs and previous findings from electrode stimulation of the brain (e.g. Bancaud, Brunet-Bourgin, Chauvel, & Halgren, 1994), Taiminen and Jääskeläinen speculate that déjà vu occurs as a result of hyperdopaminergic action in the mesial temporal areas of the brain.
Memory-based explanations[edit | edit source]
The similarity between a déjà vu-eliciting stimulus and an existing, but different, memory trace may lead to the sensation. Thus, encountering something which evokes the implicit associations of an experience or sensation that cannot be remembered may lead to déjà vu. In an effort to experimentally reproduce the sensation, Banister and Zangwill (1941) used hypnosis to give participants posthypnotic amnesia suggestions for material they had already seen. When this was later re-encountered, the restricted activation caused by the posthypnotic amnesia resulted in three of the 10 participants reporting what the authors termed paramnesias. Memory-based explanations may lead to the development of a number of non-invasive experimental methods by which a long sought-after analogue of déjà vu can be reliably produced that would allow it to be tested under well-controlled experimental conditions.
Neural theories[edit | edit source]
In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, it was widely believed that déjà vu could be caused by the mis-timing of neuronal firing. This timing error was thought to lead the brain to believe that it was encountering a stimulus for the second time, when in fact, it was simply re-experiencing the same event from a slightly delayed source. A number of variations of these theories exist, with miscommunication of the two cerebral hemispheres and abnormally fast neuronal firing also given as explanations for the sensation. Perhaps the most widely acknowledged neuronal theory is the optical pathway delay theory which explains déjà vu as being the product of a delayed optical input from one eye. Closely following the input from the first eye (when it should be simultaneous), this misleads conscious awareness and suggests a sensation of familiarity when there should not be one. Although intuitively plausible, this theory is untestable due to the minute times involved in neuronal firing, and inconsistent with reports that blind individuals experience déjà vu in the same way as sighted individuals (O'Connor & Moulin, 2006).
Parapsychology[edit | edit source]
Déjà vu is associated with precognition, clairvoyance or extra-sensory perceptions, and it is frequently cited as evidence for "psychic" abilities in the general population. Non-scientific explanations attribute the experience to prophecy, visions (such as received in dreams) or past-life memories.
Dreams[edit | edit source]
Some believe déjà vu is the memory of dreams. Though the majority of dreams are never remembered, a dreaming person can display activity in the areas of the brain that process long-term memory. It has been speculated that dreams read directly into long-term memory, bypassing short-term memory entirely. In this case, déjà vu might be a memory of a forgotten dream with elements in common with the current waking experience. This may be similar to another phenomenon known as déjà rêvé, or "already dreamed."
Not only is the link to dreams as they pertain to déjà vu the subject of scientific and psychological studies, it is also a subject of spiritual texts, as is found in, for example, in the writings of the Bahá'í Faith with quotes like "...perchance when ten years are gone, thou wilt witness in the outer world the very things thou hast dreamed tonight." and "Behold how the thing which thou hast seen in thy dream is, after a considerable lapse of time, fully realized."
Reincarnation[edit | edit source]
Those believing in reincarnation theorize that déjà visité is caused by fragments of past-life memories being jarred to the surface of the mind by familiar surroundings or people. Others theorize that the phenomenon is caused by astral projection, or out-of-body experiences (OBEs), where it is possible that individuals have visited places while in their astral bodies during sleep. The sensation may also be interpreted as connected to the fulfillment of a condition as seen or felt in a premonition. For further cases of remembering information from past lives, see Ian Stevenson.
Related phenomena[edit | edit source]
Jamais vu[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Jamais vu
Jamais vu is a term in psychology (from the French, meaning "never seen") which is used to describe any familiar situation which is not recognised by the observer.
Often described as the opposite of déjà vu, jamais vu involves a sense of eeriness and the observer's impression of seeing the situation for the first time, despite rationally knowing that he or she has been in the situation before.
Jamais vu is more commonly explained as when a person momentarily does not recognize a word, person, or place that they already know.
Theoretically, as seen below, a jamais vu feeling in a sufferer of a delirious disorder or intoxication could result in a delirious explanation of it, such as in the Capgras delusion, in which the patient takes a person known by him/her for a false double or impostor. If the impostor is himself, the clinical setting would be the same as the one described as depersonalisation, hence jamais vus of oneself or of the very "reality of reality", are termed depersonalisation (or irreality) feelings.
The Timesonline reports:
|“||Chris Moulin, of Leeds University, asked 92 volunteers to write out "door" 30 times in 60 seconds. At the International Conference on Memory in Sydney last week he reported that 68 per cent of the volunteers showed symptoms of jamais vu, such as beginning to doubt that "door" was a real word. Dr Moulin believes that a similar brain fatigue underlies a phenomenon observed in some schizophrenia patients: that a familiar person has been replaced by an impostor. Dr Moulin suggests they could be suffering from chronic jamais vu. ||”|
Presque vu[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Presque vu
Presque vu (from French, meaning "almost seen") is the sensation of being on the brink of an epiphany. Often very disorienting and distracting, presque vu rarely leads to an actual breakthrough. Frequently, one experiencing presque vu will say that they have something "on the tip of their tongue."
L'esprit de l'escalier[edit | edit source]
- Full article at L'esprit de l'escalier.
L'esprit de l'escalier (from French, "staircase wit") is remembering something when it is too late. For example, a clever come-back to a remark, thought of after the conversation has ended. Another example for this is when you're about to take a test and you know everything, but, when it begins, you forget all that you've learned; after taking the test you remember absolutely everything that you had forgotten while taking it.
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- includeonly>"Deja vu 'recreated in laboratory'", BBC News, 2006-07-21. Retrieved on 2006-07-27.
- includeonly>"Cortical stimulation study of the role of rhinal cortex in déjà vu and reminiscence of memories", NEUROLOGY 2004;63:858-864, 2007-11-15. Retrieved on 2007-11-15.
- Funkhouser, Arthur (1996). "Three types of deja vu".
- Dickens, Charles (1991). Personal History of David Copperfield (middle of chapter 39), Time Warner Libraries. ISBN 1879329018.
- Howstuffworks "What is déjà vu?
- Moulin, C.J.A., Conway, M.A. Thompson, R.G., James, N. & Jones, R.W. (2005). Disordered Memory Awareness: Recollective Confabulation in Two Cases of Persistent Déjà vecu. Neuropsychologia (43): 1362-1378.
- Hawthorne, Nathaniel (1863). Our Old Home, New York: Houghtton, Mifflin & Co..
- Scott, Sir Walter (1815). Guy Mannering or The Astrologer (chapter 41), Edinburgh: J. Ballantyne & Co..
- Jung, C. G. (1952). "On synchronicity". (Jung's paper is often cited from a 1966 edition, however, this was not the original publication as Jung died in 1961.)
- A stunning new look at déjà vu
- Pacific NEUROPSYCHIATRY
- Neurology Channel
- Howstuffworks "What is déjà vu?
- The Valley of Wonderment
- LXXIX: As to thy question concerning the worlds ...
- Neppe Déjà Vu Research and Theory. Pacific Neuropsychiatric Institute. URL accessed on [[November 29]], 2005.
- Brown, Alan S. (2004). the déjà vu experience, Psychology Press. ISBN 1841690759.
- Draaisma, Douwe (2004). Why life speeds up as you get older, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521691990.
- J. H. Jackson (1888). A particular variety of epilepsy "intellectual aura", one case with symptoms of organic brain disease. Brain 11: 179-207.
- Wigan, Arthur (1985). Duality of the Mind (originally published in 1844), Joseph Simon. ISBN 0-934710-11-2.
[edit | edit source]
- Chronic deja vu- quirks and quarks episode (mp3)
- "When deja vu is more than just an odd feeling" The Ottawa Citizen, February 20 2006
- "The Tease of Memory" The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 23 2004
- "Déjà Vu: If It All Seems Familiar, There May Be a Reason" New York Times, September 14, 2004
- "Déjà Vu, Again and Again" New York Times, July 2, 2006
- "UGH! I Just Got the Creepiest Feeling That I Have Been Here Before: Déjà vu and the Brain, Consciousness and Self", Neurobiology and Behavior, 1998
- The Skeptic's Dictionary
- How Déjà Vu Works a Howstuffworks article
- Déjà Experience Research
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