Déjà vu is a French term meaning “already seen.” It was given its name by Emile Boirac (1851-1917), a French psychic researcher in his book L’Avenir des Sciences Psychiques (translated as The Future of Psychic Sciences). Webster’s Dictionary defines déjà vu as “the illusion of remembering scenes and events when experienced for the first time or a feeling that one has seen or heard something before.”
It has been found that at least 79% of the population claim to have had a déjà vu experience. Studies have shown that déjà vu seems to happen most often in the age range of 15 to 25 years old. The occurrences seem to happen less frequently as people get older.
The incidences of déjà vu are random and usually only last for a brief moment. It can trigger the senses of sight, touch, sound, taste or smell. Most people are taken aback by it, and an eerie feeling comes over them when it occurs. They usually bring it to the immediate attention of the individuals they are with by saying something like: I just had déjà vu; I feel that we have had this conversation before; or I feel we have had this moment together before. Surprisingly, the other individuals may even announce that they too experienced the same exact sensation.
To date, déjà vu remains a mystery. There is much debate surrounding its causes. One school of thought is that déjà vu experiences are recollections of real memories recorded from one’s past lives. It has been particularly difficult to explain this phenomenon in scientific terms. Researchers studied patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (a form of the disease that causes recurrent seizures). They found that prior to or between the seizures the patients had the déjà vu sensation. This brought them to the conclusion that déjà vu might be caused by a misfiring in the brain. However, déjà vu occurs in healthy individuals as well as those who have epilepsy. Another thought is that déjà vu is a collection of one’s stored memories that simply resurface when people find themselves in a similar situation or conversation. But if you are a believer in the theory of parallel universes, perhaps déjà vu happens when those parallel universes are in perfect alignment for that fleeting moment in time.
On a final note, as you read this article did you feel as if you had read it before?
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