Understanding Deja Vu
By Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin
All Rights Reserved
Have you experienced deja vu?
"Deja vu all over again."-Yogi Berra
Former Major League Baseball Catcher Berra encapsulates deja vu completely with this short statement.
Some of us have had the eerie feeling of familiar events. An event happens in an uncannily similar way to another. Roughly 70% of us can lay claim to such experiences.
Deja Vu, the French word for "already seen", is the phenomenon of an experience that bearing similar traces to one that occurred before. It is a term coined by French researcher Miles Borac.
This anomaly can, trite as it sounds, have significant impact on our daily lives.
How Deja Vu Works
Extraordinary as it is, defining deja vu is difficult. Different theories explain this phenomenon.
Psychologist Edward Tichener explains deja vu as a person perceiving a situation before his brain has finished constructing the experience. An overlap occurs between his short-term and long-term memories, leading to a belief that he has already experienced the event.
Some psychologists have tried to create links between deja vu and mental disorders such as schizophrenia, without success.
Associative deja vu is the most common type of deja vu people experience. They associate present experiences with an event that has occured before.
For some medical researchers, there is a biological explanation. Deja Vu happens to those with temporal lobe epilepsy at an alarming rate.
They have been able to identify parts of the brain where these types of deja vu originate.
Studies show that 60% young patients with temporal lobe disorder tend to have inexplicable, repeated experiences.
A few other researchers state that the more stressed we are, the more likely we are to experience deja vu.
Another school of thought suggests that deja vu occurs because of the way our brain processes short-term and long-term memories.
It describes deja vu as a delayed neurological response. Researcher Robert Eton tested an idea at the Veterans Memorial Hospital in Boston in 1963. He found that the temporal lobe, which receives information, does so twice with a processing delay. He used this finding to explain the deja vu experience.
Other memory theorists state that we draw our memories from different sources. We may find similarities between our own experiences with those that happen in movies.
Religious theorists have another explanation for these odd occurrences. They see deja vu as Providence's way of revealing the future. They explain this strange phenomenon as a way for divine powers to communicate with us.
What is Deja Vu?
The Significance of Deja Vu
These preconceived, yet parallel experiences have profound implications for us. Were there an explanation for deja vu that is agreed upon, it would bring positive, life-altering possibilities.
1) Increased self-awareness
For a start, it would mean that we will better appreciate our life experiences. Repeated events remind us to seize the moment.
We will be more aware of ourselves and not belittle the seemingly trivial.
2) A Greater Faith
Besides increased self-awareness, deja vu leads to more faith. We grow in faith in our quest for spiritual explanations for these events.
Perhaps parallel experiences will prompt us to believe that providence intervenes in our lives.
3) A better relationship with others
Further, deja vu nurtures our connections with others. We develop bonds when we share repeated happenings with someone who is part of the experience.
If you have a deja vu experience related to your mother, sharing the experience may bring the two of you closer.
4) Explanation of life-changing events
Quite importantly, deja vu is a possible explanation for the important events that change our lives.
Pre-conceived events that recur are significant, at least some of the time. If we are in a house and remember being there before, perhaps the house connects with you. It is a connection you may want to delve into.
The impact of Deja Vu on our daily lives
Deja vu may certainly have more impact on us than we imagine. It also has its uses.
1) Possible incorporation into our daily routine
One of them is the possible incorporation of deja vu into our daily routine. Pre-conceived experiences may help us foretell the unexpected events that may occur during the day. It may even help us plan our daily schedules.
2) Prevention of accidents
To add, deja vu may help us prevent accidents. If a mishap has happened before and we get a sense of deja vu about it, we may have the capacity to keep it from happening.
3) Make better decisions
Further, if we feel a sense of deja vu about our failures, we are better able to draw from the our earlier experiences and keep them from happening.
4) Form connections with others.
Lastly, the pre-conceived, recurring experiences that we share with others allow us to bond with them.
Everyone loves a mystery. It keeps them enthralled.
Deja vu, with its significant, many uses, brings with it many possibilities.
Do share your experiences with deja vu in the comments section below.
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