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Encyclopedia > Déjà vu

The term déjà vu (French: "already seen", also called paramnesia) describes the experience of feeling that one has witnessed or experienced a new situation previously. The term was created by a French psychic researcher, Emile Boirac (1851-1917) in his book L' Avenir des Sciences Psychiques, 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 "eerieness" or "strangeness". The "previous" experience is most frequently attributed to a dream, although in some cases there is a firm sense that the experience "genuinely happened" in the past. Parapsychology is the study of the evidence involving phenomena where a person seems to affect or gain information about something through a means not currently explainable within the framework of mainstream, conventional science. ... Émile BOIRAC Guelma (Algeria), 26 August 1851 - Dijon, 20 September 1917. ... Events January 23 - The flip of a coin determines whether a new city in Oregon is named after Boston, Massachusetts, or Portland, Maine, with Portland winning. ... 1917 was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... The University of Chicago is a private co-educational university located in Chicago, Illinois. ...

The experience of déjà vu seems to be very common; in formal studies 70% or more of the population report having experienced it at least once [1] (http://www.pni.org/books/deja_vu_info.html). References to the experience of déjà vu are also found in literature of the past, indicating it is not a new phenomenon.


Scientific research

Déjà vu has been subjected in recent years to serious psychological and neurophysiological research. The most likely candidate for explanation, according to scientists in these fields, is that déjà vu is not an act of "precognition" or "prophecy" but is actually an anomaly of memory; it is the impression that an experience is "being recalled" which is false. This is substantiated to an extent by the fact that in most cases the sense of "recollection" at the time is strong, but any 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 circumstances they were "remembering" when they had the déjà vu experience, and in particular, this may result from a 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).

Links with disorders

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 increases considerably 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 (ie. non-pathological) epileptic episode regularly (eg. 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 "memory". Anxiety is a complex combination of the feeling of fear, apprehension and worry often accompanied by physical sensations such as palpitations, chest pain and/or shortness of breath. ... Neurology is the branch of medicine that deals with the nervous system and disorders affecting it. ... A hypnic or hypnogogic jerk is an involuntary muscle twitch (more generally known as myclonus or a myclonic twitch) which often occurs during the transition from wakefulness to sleep (see hypnogogia). ...


Déjà vu is popularly 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 a "prophecy" or "vision" (most commonly delivered via a dream), or alternatively to an experience had in a past life related to a reincarnation. Precognition is a form of extra-sensory perception which allows a percipient to perceive information about future places or events before they happen (as opposed to merely predicting them based on deductive reasoning and current knowledge). ... Clairvoyance is defined as a form of extra-sensory perception that it is claimed allows a person to perceive distant objects, persons, or events, including seeing through opaque objects and the detection of types of energy not normally perceptible to humans (i. ... Extra-sensory perception, or ESP, is the name given to any ability to acquire information by means other than the five canonical senses (taste, sight, touch, smell, and hearing), or any other sense well known to science (balance, proprioception, etc). ... Parapsychology is the study of the evidence involving phenomena where a person seems to affect or to gain information about something through a means not currently explainable within the framework of mainstream, conventional science. ... Prophecy, in a broad sense, is the prediction of future events. ... Reincarnation, also called transmigration of souls, is the rebirth in another body (after physical death), of some critical part of a persons personality or spirit. ...

Similar phenomena

Other psychological phenomena have been labelled

  • jamais vu (never seen, where the familiar is experienced as if never seen before) and
  • presque vu (almost seen).
  • Déjà vécu is the sense of already having lived through an experience.
  • Also, déjà eprouvé, "already experienced".

In psychology, the term jamais vu (from the French, meaning never seen) is used to describe any familiar situation which is not recognized by the observer. ... In psychology, presque vu (from French, meaning almost seen) is the sensation of being on the brink of an epiphany. ... Déjà vécu is the experience that many people have had (or at least, claim to have had) in which they are convinced they are reliving a experience for the second time. ...

Modern usage

Though still used for the true meaning as explained above, the term is also often used to sarcastically or ironically highlight something that somebody knows has happened before. Sarcasm is sneering, jesting, or mocking a person, a situation or thing. ... Adolf Hitler: layered visual irony? What is Irony? Irony is a form of speech in which the real meaning is concealed or contradicted by the words used. ...

In the movie The Matrix, déjà vu is a sensible glitch in the Matrix that occurs when it is changed at the super-user level. The Matrix is a film first released in the USA on March 31, 1999, written and directed by the Wachowski brothers (Andy and Larry). ...

External links



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