News & Info

Psychological Explanation of “Deja Vu” Sensation

“I’ve already lived this moment! – This place seems very familiar, though I was never here! – I swear I’ve had this discussion before!” Deja vu phenomenon has been described as a “reminder of the future“, the phenomenon being experienced at least once by nearly 70% of us. U.S. scientists said they had discovered cortical segment responsible for this sensation. “Deja vu“, the French way of saying “already seen“, is a feeling often encountered when one of us lives a situation that seems to have happened before. It is also called paramnesia. Feeling of “deja vu” is accompanied by excessive familiarity, along with a dose of weirdness, while the previous experience often being compared to a dream.  It was very difficult for researchers to reproduce the feeling of deja vu in the laboratory, so few studies have been developed on this subject. But researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, say they now have discovered a part of the brain responsible for triggering the deja vu reaction. They stated that neurons in central memory, called the hippocampus, creates a folder/map of undiscovered (yet possible) places and events to expose them at an nonspecific time in the future. They say that deja vu occurs when two events resemble the position, state and morphology; one of them is stored in the hippocampus’ map and the other is actually occurring. Snap! Such reactions occur when the common points are reached.

Déjà vu: Psychology or Parapsychology?

Several other researchers have addressed the phenomenon trying to find an explanation. Initially, the deja vu phenomenon was considered a para-psychological phenomenon and first theories on its causes were  issued by parapsychologists. According to them, the deja vu sensation comes from extrasensory perception. On the other hand, from the perspective of those who believe in reincarnation of the soul, the feeling of deja vu is considered a repetition of events that a person lived in another life. The explanation of this may especially apply in deja visite (déjà visité) phenomenon. This is a feeling experienced by a person reaching a place where he/she has never been, but it seems like that place is already known (been there before). In turn, psychologists, psychoanalysts and neuroscientists agree that deja vu wink happens  due to a short circuit in the brain. Cerebral hemispheres are constantly assaulted by all means of environmental sensory stimuli. Feeling of deja vu occurs when a cerebral hemisphere perceives these stimuli with few fractions of a second before the other hemisphere. And then, in the first hemisphere an image is already formed, being perceived before it forms in the other hemisphere. We feel like we remember a moment that we lived before.

In Carl Gustav Jung’s theory, déjà vu is a byproduct of the collective subconscious. He said there are common patterns of all human beings (the mother model, the father model, the hero model) forming the collective unconscious/subconscious. When a person accesses memories (information from the collective memory) the deja vu phenomenon occurs. Jung himself had many deja vu experiences, especially on an occasional trip to Africa, him being born in Switzerland.

The latest research in quantum physics also moved on, although it may seem far fetched to skeptics. Claiming that there are many parallel universes with which we interact, the researchers believe that deja vu happens due to the information flow interference that we have access to, in these parallel universes. Dr. Alan Brown has attempted to recreate a process that he thinks is similar to deja vu. He has put the idea of subliminal suggestion to the test. They showed photographs of various locations to a group of students, with the plan to ask them which locations were familiar. Prior to showing them some of the photographs, they flashed the photos onto the screen at subliminal speeds (around 10 to 20 milliseconds) which is long enough for the brain to register the photo but not long enough for the student to be consciously aware of it. In these experiments, the images that had been shown subliminally were familiar at a much higher rate than those that were not – even though those students who had actually been to those locations had been pulled from the study. Similar studies were done using lists of words with similar results. Based on this idea, scientists proposed the term cell phone theory (or divided attention).

This means that when we are distracted with something else, we subliminally take in what’s around us but may not truly register it consciously. Then, when we are able to focus on what we are doing, those surroundings appear to already be familiar to us even when they shouldn’t be. With this in mind, it is reasonable to see how we might walk into a house for the first time, perhaps while talking to our host, and experience déjà vu. It would work like this: before we’ve actually looked at the room, our brains have processed it visually or by smell or sound, so that when we actually look at it we get a feeling that we’ve been there before.

Vague, Faint Memories

In some cases it’s possible for the deja vu feeling to not be genuine, authentic, but induced by some information, descriptions, images that we had access to at a certain moment in time. This happens especially to people with a rich life experience, who read countless books, watched a lot of movies, visited many places. These people have a false sense of deja vu when they encounter in their minds bits of memories from the past. Therefore, feeling of “already lived” experience can be generated by vague memories they have had. In contrast, children, who don’t have a rich life experience, have a certainly true feeling of deja vu. Deja vecu (Déjà vécu) is another associated sensation that most people are experiencing when they think they are experiencing deja vu-s. Deja vu is the sense of having seen something before, whereas deja vecu is the experience of having seen an event before, but in great detail – such as recognizing smells and sounds. This is also usually accompanied by a very strong feeling of knowing what is going to come next. This is a very weird and unexplainable sensation to the indivitual.

In some cases it’s possible for the deja vu feeling to not be genuine, authentic, but induced by some information, descriptions, images that we had access to at a certain moment in time. This happens especially to people with a rich life experience, who read countless books, watched a lot of movies, visited many places. These people have a false sense of deja vu when they encounter in their minds bits of memories from the past. Therefore, feeling of “already lived” experience can be generated by vague memories they have had. In contrast, children, who don’t have a rich life experience, have a certainly true feeling of deja vu. Deja vecu (Déjà vécu) is another associated sensation that most people are experiencing when they think they are experiencing deja vu-s. Deja vu is the sense of having seen something before, whereas deja vecu is the experience of having seen an event before, but in great detail – such as recognizing smells and sounds. This is also usually accompanied by a very strong feeling of knowing what is going to come next. This is a very weird and unexplainable sensation to the indivitual.

Deja Vu Bias and Psychological Advice

Feeling that we once lived a certain moment that repeats itself should not scare anybody. It’s natural and has no negative effects on people, psychologists ensure. Some studies have shown that people frequently living the deja vu experience are either extremely exhausted or very relaxed. The phenomenon occurs more often in these extremes, but can happen anywhere: a trip to the office, during a discussion with someone etc. Origins: Déjà vu phenomenon was first described by French Emil Boirac and dates from 1876. French term – déjà vu – is used to describe this phenomenon all over the world nowadays. Portrait: Psychologists have found that feeling of déjà vu occurs more often in young people of 14 to 26 years. Other studies have revealed that it occurs more often in women. But a common conclusion of most researchers is that people often encountering these events have certain intuitive qualities and vivid, rich imagination.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.