The Psychology Behind Déjà Vu: Unraveling the Phenomenon

Have you ever talked to a stranger and feel like you go way back? Have you ever watched a movie that just came out yesterday, but swore you have already seen it? Have you ever had that occasional feeling where you know as if everything being said or done has happened before? The same faces, actions, and surroundings are recalled like an old memory. Déjà Vu has been called a common phenomenon and almost everyone has experienced it. The feeling is left unexplained and usually leaves people thinking “I just had the strangest Déjà Vu.” The eerie familiarity of a situation is what keeps people thinking about the true psychology behind Déjà Vu. It comes from the French word already seen and is “the illusion of remembering scenes and events when experienced for the first time.” When it comes to this occurrence, there are so many people who don’t know the background of Déjà Vu, the spiritual theories as to why it occurs, and the scientific explanation behind it. The word Déjà Vu is used often, but does anyone really know the background behind it?

As earlier stated Déjà Vu is the overwhelming wave of familiarity you get in a new experience. For starters, this phenomenon is common among both children and adults. It is reported that 60-70% of people have experienced this uncanny feeling that they have already experienced something that hasn’t been experienced before.” Young people tend to experience Déjà Vu more often. In fact, apparently these memory problems are decreasing with age and not increasing. As a result, the number of déjà vu experiences people report steadily decreases after 25 years old. In addition, the French term déjà vu was coined in 1876 by the French philosopher named Emile Boirac. In relation to this term are many others such as jamais vu which means never seen, presque vu which stands for almost seen and déjà entendu which translates to already heard. Furthermore, would be the intriguing story from the man trapped in constant Déjà Vu.

“Some people with persistent deja vu greet you like an old friend, even though they've never seen you before.” - Dr Chris Moulin, Cognitive Neuropsychologist. This quote would correspond to what this story is about. A man constantly trapped in this loop of feeling as if he already knew what were to happen. Something as regular as watching television, eating or even going out to buy groceries made him feel as if he were in some terrifying time loop that were constantly repeating. This story is a perfect example as to what it really feels like to experience déjà vu regularly. It gives background as to how fascinating it can be. Although, déjà vu occurs for as little as 2 seconds and is just a little event, it has a lot of background behind it. Many times, we seem to ignore these “coincidences” and fail to notice their hidden significance. Perhaps, it is just a coincidence or a past memory you couldn’t remember, but there are possibilities of spiritual theories as to why it occurs. As a matter of fact, “maybe their significance is their very synchronicity and feeling of familiarity, which is letting you know that you are exactly where you should be, when you should be, and with whom you should be.” Have you ever thought that maybe they are signs revealing that your soul is on the right path in life? This spiritual theory highlights your future rather than your past life. Your soul may be sending you clues presenting obstacles in your life to help you overcome challenges that are currently occurring. However, the mind boggling theory that leaves many speechless is the possibility that this phenomenon occurs because of a parallel universe. As some are familiar with, the multiverse is a theory in which our universe is not only one, but exists parallel to each other.

According to Dr. Kaku quantum physics states that there is a possibility that Deja vu might be caused by your ability to “Flip between different universes.” There is a possibility that in this parallel universe you are doing the exact same thing simultaneously, creating and alignment between the two universes. This theory leaves many speechless, but cannot compare to this next spiritual theory. Moreover, the theory of reincarnation is the theory that people have lived a previous life before the one they are living right now. This theory would explain the occurrence of Déjà Vu easily. The times when Déjà Vu occurs, would be the tiny bits and pieces of our “past life” that we seem to remember. Like every theory, they have their realistic and fantasy like components. Nonetheless, they are still theories that many believe to explain this common phenomenon. Déjà Vu has yet to be proven scientifically, but scientists still have their explanations as to why it might occur.

First and foremost, would be the most realistic explanation to this phenomenon which is cryptomnesia. “Cryptomnesia is the reappearance of a suppressed or forgotten memory which is mistaken for a new experience.” A certain change in environment due to something as small as a scent, sound or image can briefly trigger your former memory to experience that small wave of Déjà Vu. It’s quite easy to forget these small memories and feel like they’ve never happened. Additionally, in relation to cryptomnesia would be false memory. These two conditions are quite similar except for the fact that false memory is when a person recalls something that never happened oppose to a forgotten memory. Our brain is always working and tends to imagine the unthinkable at times. It’s no surprise that it could just be that reason for when you are met with Déjà Vu. Furthermore, scientists have investigated that Déjà Vu is linked to the temporal lobe of the brain due to temporal lobe epilepsy. “Epilepsy causes brain cells to send out-of-control electrical signals that affect all the brain cells around them, and sometimes even all the cells in the whole brain.” This often results in a seizure and can result in people with epilepsy to briefly lose control of their thoughts and movements. This links back to the concept that the familiarity of Déjà Vu is signaled by the brain cells in the temporal lobe. Although these explanations sound quite reasonable, no one can confirm or deny these suspicions.

It is clear that Déjà Vu is a very complex phenomenon which leaves many questioning it’s actuality. In essence, there are still people who are unfamiliar with the background of Déjà Vu, the spiritual theories as to why it occurs, and the scientific explanation behind it. However, these unexplained questions make this occurrence all the more interesting and intriguing. Perhaps, Déjà Vu is just a forgotten memory or an actual glitch in time, but no one will ever truly know.

10 October 2020
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