Déjà Vu Explained: Is It Real, Or Just Your Imagination?

by Tiago on February 22

Déjà vu
(from French, meaning “already seen”) is the feeling of having already experienced the situation at hand. The opposite of déjà vu is jamais vu (from French, meaning “never seen”), and it is the phenomenon of experiencing a situation that is familiar, but feeling that it is unfamiliar.

Déjà vu is very common, with studies showing that a large portion of the population (as much as two thirds of all human beings) experiences it at least once in their lifetimes. Younger people seem to experience it more than older people.

The Science Behind Déjà Vu

Science does not (in general) believe in spiritual and psychic explanations to the phenomenon of déjà vu. If you ask a scientist or a psychologist, many will be quick to tell you that the experience of déjà vu is nothing but an anomaly of memory—an example of memory illusion. Some believe that déjà vu is the result of faulty use of our memory systems. Other theories include slow relay in the brain and electrical impulse misfires.

Interestingly, it seems that electrical stimulation of the cerebral cortex in the temporal lobes gives rise to the feeling of déjà vu and jamais vu (this is explained in Sandra Ackerman’s book, Discovering the Brain).

Patients with dementia often have chronic déjà vu experiences. A Google search with the terms “dementia déjà vu” will quickly reveal a lot of interesting cases. People with temporal lobe epilepsy also often experience déjà vu.

However, if you don’t have any health problems, then research shows that déjà vu experiences are associated with strong memory function.

Regardless, all the evidence points to the temporal lobe—it seems to be the place that triggers the whole déjà vu thing off.

Science at this point in time can’t explain why so many people experience déjà vu. There are theories and possible explanations, such as cryptomnesia—when an unremembered memory returns to someone without them recognizing it as their own memory, thus making them think that the memory is something new, or the b-theory of time—the idea that time is an illusion and past, present and future are all real. None of these theories are conclusive.

The Man Ensnared in an Endless Déjà Vu

In January 2015, Emma Ailes of BBC News released an extremely interesting article about a man who could not escape a cycle of déjà vu that was believed to be caused by anxiety.

This man’s condition was so all-encompassing that he couldn’t do anything—he avoided reading and watching T.V. because he felt like he had seen it all before.

It was difficult to give this man any help—his brain scans were normal and besides bouts of depression and anxiety, he was otherwise normal.

He even had deja vus inside deja vus, like a fiction character caught in a time loop.

I’m telling you all this in case you’re experiencing this phenomenon and you’re wondering if what you’re experiencing is a really weird and/or dangerous thing—it’s not. It’s perfectly normal. Science doesn’t really understand it, but it’s normal.

Spiritual Meaning of Déjà Vu

One of the very strongest experiences of déjà vu you can have (and if you’ve had this kind of experience, taking the spiritual into account is a wise thing to do) is the following:

  • First, you dream about something.

  • You wake up, and you mostly forget about the dream (as is often the case with dreams).

  • Some time later (the next day, for example), you experience the events that occurred within your dream.

  • Your conscious mind, cannot, however, instantly recall the contents of your dream.

  • Déjà vu is experienced.

  • A few seconds or minutes later, you recall your dream.

Now, there is a chance that this is not some kind of precognition. If you’ve been fearing or desiring a certain outcome, it’s very rare but not impossible for your brain to produce a dream about the object of your desire or fear and THEN you experience the exact same thing in real life. Very unlikely, but not impossible.

If this kind of thing happens to you more than once, however, then you are probably experiencing precognition. Especially if you have the gift of being able to clearly see images in your mind’s eye (not inside a dream), and some of these images come true—then yes, it’s precognition (clairvoyance, to be precise).

At this point in time, science doesn’t really believe that precognition is real. But this is one case where personal experience is more relevant then what the outside world says. As someone who more than once has had these bouts of precognition, I feel that it’s correct to accept that there are more mysteries within ourselves than we can solve in a lifetime—but the mysteries are nevertheless real.

Final Thoughts

Deja VuA great many people like to tie déjà vu with past lives and the concept of reincarnation. I won’t get into that because it can be difficult to prove such a thing. Personally experiencing precognition is the clearest proof you can have.

I actually think that science simply hasn’t caught up with some of the intricacies of the brain. Is it really that far-fetched to assume that the human brain might have some ability to peer into the future?

It can look into the past and study the present. The future is only a concept in your mind, a concept of time that is yet to take place.

Maybe your mind knows more than you think. Ask it some questions. You may be surprised.

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Tiago uses his forbidden Internet skills to forge the basic framework of the Spiraling Up website. He teaches English in three languages on his English website. He was born in a small city in Portugal and now resides in Barcelona. His personal development journey started in 2006. He eats more lentils for lunch than you eat in a year. He’s also hilarious.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephanie D'Laroy February 24, 2016 at 9:39 pm

Interesting post. I’m open to really anything that comes my way whether it is deja vu or not. Thanks for sharing 🙂


PHC-BR February 25, 2016 at 5:38 am

Outstanding article Sandra I wasn’t even aware we could have a jamais vu . Thanks for educating us!


Lena Ballentyne February 25, 2016 at 7:55 am

Great post, thanks for sharing!!


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