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The Deja vu Experience

Updated on June 7, 2011

French For "already seen"

Do you have the feeling you’ve read this story before? If so, that’s a perfect example of déjà vu.

Déjà vu is a French term translated as “already seen.” It can best be described as a sense of familiarity or overwhelming feeling you’ve been at a place doing the exact same thing before. A lot of people have occasionally had the same experience…of what we are saying and doing having taken place at a different time.

Research has shown as much as 70 % of people have reported experiencing this phenomenon. Theories abound as to why it happens. But it seems to be more prevalent in younger people 15 to 25 years old. It can happen to anyone with or without a medical condition, so there’s much speculation as to its cause.

For instance, some scientists have attributed to a minor form of temporal lobe epilepsy. It supposedly can happen just prior to a seizure. However, this theory isn’t widely accepted. Several psychoanalysts say it is simply a fantasy or figment of one’s imagination. This idea doesn’t appear to be very popular either. The explanation seems too simple and not very exciting.

Past Life Experience

However, what seems to garner a lot of interest is its’ possibility of being remnants of a past life experience. Many parapsychologists believe just that and feel more investigation is needed.

The experience can be crystal clear and vivid in every detail. But it can also be hazy and difficult to recount, leaving an individual confused. The subject seems to be one difficult to research and has yet to be fully explained.

A lot of people have occasionally had the same experience…of what we are saying and doing having taken place in a different time. In any case déjà vu has had no negative effects on those having the experience therefore the subject has been left largely ignored by some researchers. Regardless it is still a bewildering phenomenon.

Scientifically speaking, the most likely explanation of déjà vu is not "precognition but an anomaly of memory, giving the notion an experience is being recalled. In the past researchers tried to verify a connection between déjà vu and psychopathology disorders such as schizophrenia. However, none were found.

Déjà vu is a common occurrence. Surveys show about one third of the population has had one. Simply put, déjà vu has been described as "familiarity without awareness.”

One researcher holds there are three types of déjà vu experiences. These are, already experienced, already felt and already visited. The first is the most common. It involves a feeling of having done something before and knowing what will happen next. Sensations are often felt through seeing, hearing, taste and touch. The occurrence is often explicitly detailed and connected to everyday activities. The episode can last from a fraction of a second to several minutes and remembered in detail long after the occurrence. It’s commonly felt as an eerie realization everything presently happening has happened before.

The second category varies slightly in that the episode feels more like recovering of information long thought to be forgotten. There is a feeling of satisfaction at having retrieved a memory thought to be lost. It usually does not involve feelings of premonition and the memories quickly fade away.

The third type is rarer event. A person finds themselves in a place they have never been before but finds it strangely familiar. Déjà vu experiences can even be a mixture of the three types.

There are several possible explanations which have been proposed. One theory is simply the brain attempts to create whole scenarios out of small pieces of information. Only bits of sensory information are required for the brain to construct a memory, whether complete or not. A sight, smell or sound similar to one experienced in the past prompts the brain to put together a complete scene. The details are not yet fully understood.

Parapsychologists suggest déjà vu is nothing more than reincarnates getting a sneak preview into a past life.

Some may feel déjà vu is not worth researching as it is just a trick of the brain we must learn to accept into our daily lives. Investigation however, seems to shed more in-depth knowledge of ourselves.


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      very intresting As its still fresh on my mind i have to share with you my exp all night i havent been able to get this outa my head.Only last night at a friends wedding Anni dinner&dance Iws approached by an older gent around 70 yrs.And asked me if i would dance with him.Out of respect for the older man,i did,As we danced he asked me,do u belive in deja vu,And i said smiled and looked at him asked why,,He then told me ,i feel i have seen u before very long ago, You havent changed .i kinda smiled he ws really a nice decent well dressed gent.i asked him how long ago did u see me or someone like me.he said 60 yrs ago ,,by the way i am 45 and i have moved to the usa just 3 yrs back.Could it b reincarnation? i didnt ask him his name.nor did he mine,the music stoped he led me to my seat& bowed holding my hand thanking me.And said i have waited so long to see you tht as you danced ,he said he even had told his sister sitting at the far end of the hall,tht he somewht,had seen me and knew me from far stumped ....

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I have had a couple of these experiences and I don't have a clue as to why. I thought maybe I have done something similar in the past and just can't quite remember. I don't really believe in reincarnation but that seems to be what many think. Maybe the DNA we inherit from our ancestors have some memories attached. That sounds far fetched but who knows. Very interesting hub.

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      8 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Thank you both for your comments. I always try to find topics people are interested in to write about.

    • Texas Lady profile image

      Texas Lady 

      8 years ago from Texas

      This is a very interesting hub. Although I cannot wrap my mind around it, it has happened to me numerous times, and I always sensed that there was something more to me than I understood. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Lucky Cats profile image


      8 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      I have no answers but, the amazing thing is that it is assumed that if an experience does not fit into our linear, presupposed ideas and perceptions limited to our 5 senses then, it is not real, that it is a figment of our imagination and/or is nonsense. Though I cannot explain why the subject you've chosen to write about is experienced by some, I rather like to think that there are possibilities "out there" that I cannot fathom due to my own limitations. But, my imagination is alive and well and open to suggestions! Wonderful hub, JY...again and as always, I love your writing style and succinct way of imparting information. Voted UP and Like on FB


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