Deja Vu

deja vu feeling

Déjà vu is a French word that means “already seen”. This term was coined in 1876 by French philosopher and psychical researcher Émile Boirac. It expresses the feeling that one has experienced the present situation before. Although some people perceive déjà vu in paranormal context orthodox scientific approaches reject déjà vu as “precognition” or “prophecy”.

Deja Vu is a common experience. According to an estimate by the experts roughly two out of three people have had the deja vu experience at least once. But it’s still widely misunderstood. The reason is that it is hard to study this feeling in a laboratory, so our understanding is limited. Though there are a few theories about deja vu that might lead to this defect in the brain.

It is not easy to study déjà vu by the researchers, partially because it happens without any kind of warning and often in people without any underlying health issues that might play a part. Moreover déjà vu experiences tend to end as quickly as they begin which makes it difficult to study them. The feeling of déjà vu may be so transient that if you don’t know much about déjà vu, you may not even know what just happened. You might feel a bit uncertain but quickly brush aside the experience.

Experts suggest several different causes of déjà vu. Most of them agree that it is more likely related to memory in some way. Below are some of the more widely accepted theories about deja vu that explain the reason for this mysterious feeling:

  • Split perception theory

The theory of split perception suggests that déjà vu happens when you see something two different times. The first time you see something, you see it with a little distraction. Since you didn’t give the experience your full attention for the first time, it entered your perception, and it feels like two different events. But it is merely one continued perception of the same event.

  • Minor brain circuit glitches

Another theory suggests déjà vu happens when your brain malfunctions. In other words, it is like experiencing a brief electrical malfunction, like one that happens during an epileptic seizure.

  • Memory recall

Many experts believe déjà vu has something to do with the way you process and recall your memories. Even though you are not able to access that memory, your brain still knows that you have been in a similar situation before. This process of implicit memory leads to the somewhat odd feeling of familiarity.

  • Psychic experience

Déjà vu can also be related to psychic experiences, such as remembering something you might have experienced in a previous life or a dream.

Déjà vu may occur when specific aspects of a current situation are in like a certain previously occurring situation. If there is an overlap between the components of the new and old situation, we get a strong sensation of familiarity. As a healthy brain can experience déjà vu, this doesn’t necessarily imply that you should raise the alarms. The sensation is more likely to happen to people who travel frequently and have advanced degrees. Deja vu can peak in young adulthood but gradually gets away with age. The experience of déjà vu is a feeling that what is happening has happened before and is just like a sudden or strange odor or taste. Most people experience déjà vu with no adverse health effects. Déjà vu can be a sign of a neurological disorder. Individuals with epilepsy often have focal seizures that occur in one area of the brain, sometimes in the temporal lobe that is used to store memories. These are called temporal lobe seizures.

Seizures involve bursts of uncontrolled electrical activity that cause nerve cells in your brain to misfire. The shortness of focal seizures and the fact that people typically remain awake when they happen to make it hard to recognize what is happening. People may mistake a person having a focal seizure as daydreaming or staring off into the distance. Temporal lobe seizures can produce feelings of déjà vu. Signs that you may be having a temporal lobe seizure versus a regular déjà vu experience include:

  • Loss of awareness of surroundings
  • Staring
  • Lip-smacking
  • Repeated swallowing or chewing
  • Unusual finger movements, such as picking motion
  • Sudden, unexplained feelings, like joy or anger
  • Problems controlling your muscles
  • Twitching in your muscles
  • Having sensations that involve vision, taste, smell, hearing, and touch
  • Feeling as though you are about to have a seizure
deja vu

There are two kinds of déjà vu:

  1. Pathological déjà vu
  2. Non-pathological déjà vu
  • Non-pathological déjà vu

This is the kind that most of us experience, in which we simply feel the feeling. The non-pathological type is a characteristic of healthy people and about two-thirds of them have had déjà vu experiences. People who travel frequently and watch films often are more likely to experience déjà vu than others. Furthermore, people also tend to experience déjà vu more in feeble conditions or under high pressure. On the other hand, research shows that the experience of déjà vu also decreases with age.

  • Pathological déjà vu

It is experienced in people with temporal lobe epilepsy, a condition causing seizures that center on the temporal lobe of the brain, the lobe most involved in processing sensory inputs and making visual memories, understanding language, and making emotional attachments. Some scientists believe that all cases of déjà vu are pathological, as they are associated with mild epileptic episodes and related improper electrical discharges between neurons in the brain.

If you want to deal with déjà vu you need to stay calm, take care of yourself, and make the most of the experiences. Below mentioned ways will help:

  • Take slow and deep breaths. Having a déjà vu experience can be overwhelming or even frightening. You can simply deal with déjà vu by taking a few deep, slow breaths to calm yourself down.
  • You need to focus on the current moment. You can deal with déjà vu if you focus your mind and senses on the present. Being mindful of how you are feeling and what you are doing can help you decrease feelings of anxiety and stress.
  • You need to keep a déjà vu journal. You can deal with your déjà vu experiences by documenting them when they happen. In this way, you can write down the details of the situation and the feelings that arose.
  • You should talk to others about your déjà vu. Some studies indicate that about 65% of young adults experience déjà vu at least once in their lifetime. Try talking to your friends and family about your experiences. It is likely that they have experienced something similar and may be able to help you deal with your déjà vu.
  • You need to decrease your stress levels. Some studies report that déjà vu happens more often when you are stressed. You can deal with your déjà vu by doing things to lower your stress. Identify the things that have stressed you out and sort out ways to reduce the stress.
  • You should get more rest. Some research links déjà vu to lack of sleep and fatigue ness. To deal with your déjà vu, make sure that you are getting enough sleep and not wearing yourself out. Go to bed at a regular time each evening and do something relaxing and soothing before sleeping.
  • You need to examine your medications. Research suggests that certain medications can trigger increases in chemicals in the body, like dopamine, that can increase your likelihood of experiencing déjà vu. Looking at your medications and researching how they affect your dopamine levels can help you deal with déjà vu.
  • Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing déjà vu frequently. Experiencing déjà vu frequently, especially in children and teenagers may be a sign of epilepsy.
  • Help yourself by enjoying the feeling of deja vu while it lasts. Some research indicates that experiences of déjà vu start to decrease as you get older. So instead of fighting it, document it, and enjoy the wonder and novelty of it while you can.
  • Use your déjà vu to your benefit. One study indicated that people who experience déjà vu may be better at remembering things than people that don’t. Deal with your déjà vu by using it to exercise your memory and recall skills.
  • You need to separate déjà vu from other experiences. For this get to know more about déjà vu as it will make it easier for you to deal with it and appreciate it.

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Written by: Tahira Rubab Hafeez

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