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The term déją vu is French and means, literally, "already seen." Those who have experienced the feeling describe it as an overwhelming sense of familiarity with something that shouldn't be familiar at all. Say, for example, you are traveling to England for the first time. You are touring a cathedral, and suddenly it seems as if you have been in that very spot before. Or maybe you are having dinner with a group of friends, discussing some current political topic, and you have the feeling that you've already experienced this very thing -- same friends, same dinner, same topic.
The phenomenon is rather complex, and there are many different theories as to why déją vu happens. Swiss scholar Arthur Funkhouser suggests that there are several "déją experiences" and asserts that in order to better study the phenomenon, the nuances between the experiences need to be noted. In the examples mentioned above, Funkhouser would describe the first incidence as déją visité ("already visited") and the second as déją vecu ("already experienced or lived through").
As much as 70 percent of the population reports having experienced some form of déją vu. A higher number of incidents occurs in people 15 to 25 years old than in
any other age group.
Déją vu has been firmly associated with temporal-lobe epilepsy. Reportedly, déją vu can occur just prior to a temporal-lobe epileptic attack. People suffering an epileptic seizure of this kind can experience déją vu during the actual seizure activity or in the moments between convulsions.
Since déją vu occurs in individuals with and without a medical condition, there is much speculation as to how and why this phenomenon happens. Several psychoanalysts attribute déją vu to simple fantasy or wish fulfillment, while some psychiatrists ascribe it to a mismatching in the brain that causes the brain to mistake the present for the past. Many parapsychologists believe it is related to a past-life experience. Obviously, there is more investigation to be done.
déją vu
Déją vu is French for "already seen." Déją vu is an uncanny feeling or illusion of having already seen or experienced something that is being experienced for the first time. If we assume that the experience is actually of a remembered event, then déją vu probably occurs because an original experience was neither fully attended to nor elaborately encoded in memory. If so, then it would seem most likely that the present situation triggers the recollection of a fragment from one's past. The experience may seem uncanny if the memory is so fragmented that no strong connections can be made between the fragment and other memories.
Thus, the feeling that one has been there before is often due to the fact that one has been...