- Education and Science
What is Jamais Vu?
What is Jamais Vu?
Jamais vu is the opposite of déjà vu. But what is jamais vu exactly and what does it mean? While the French term deva vu stands for "already seen," and the phenomenon is familiar to most of us, jamais vu means the opposite, that is, "never seen."
Jamais vu happens when an object or event that we are normally familiar with appears to be foreign or completely unknown to us.
Jamais Vu vs. Deja Vu
While most of us know we have experienced deja vu before, we usually don't remember what it was about. Jamais vu is different, because people who have experienced it tend to remember the details.
An experiment to trigger Jamais Vu
Try this, as an experiment: Take the word that and think long and hard about it. Twist it and turn it in your thought. Write it on paper many times. Write sentences and examine the word's meaning in every context. What happens?
After a time, don't you find yourself having no clue what the word means? Don't you forget how it is spelled? Such a regular word!
How is Jamais Vu experienced?
Chris Moulin, of Leeds University, defines jamais vu as a temporary sensation of unfamiliarity. He says it is characterized by a sensation that something is entirely new to you even though you have known it for years. Jamais vu may be accompanied by a sensation of novelty or unreality.
Other examples of jamais vu include getting lost in a familiar place, recognizing a loved one as a stranger, losing the thread of a familiar musical piece you are playing, or even forgetting the functions of the pedals when driving. Fortunately, in a brain that's functioning normally, these occurrences last very briefly.
How common is Jamais Vu?
According to Chris Moulin, who asked 92 volunteers to write out the word door 30 times in a minute, about 70 percent of volunteers showed symptoms of jamais vu, such as beginning to doubt that door was a real word.
He also says 50 (+/- 10) percent of people experience jamais vu in their life, but the phenomenon is reported less frequently than its opposite, déjà vu.
Is Jamais Vu a sign of something pathological?
Normally, the sensation of jamais vu is nothing to get alarmed by. If, however, it occurs more frequently and lasts longer, it may signify a pathological condition. Jamais vu is not uncommon in cases of victims of stroke or brain damage who often insist that a spouse or other family members are impostors. These patients often recognize facial features and acknowledge familiarity, but remain convinced that the loved ones are actual strangers.