Deja vu (French déjà vu, – already seen) is a mental condition in which a person feels that he once was in a similar situation, but the feeling is not linked to a specific moment of the past, and refers to the past in general. The term was first used by psychologist Emile Buarakom (1851-1917) in his book “The Future of the psychic sciences.” (L’Avenir des sciences psychiques).
State of deja vu is similar to rereading a book, which has been read long time ago or to watching a movie that you used to watch, but have completely forgotten what they were about. You cannot remember what happens next moment, but in the course of events you understand that you have already seen them.
The impression of déjà vu can be so strong that the memories of it may persist for years. However, as a general rule, a person fails to recall any details about the events about which, as it seems, he remembered when experiencing deja vu.
The state of deja vu is accompanied by a depersonalization: the reality is vague and unclear. Using the terminology of Freud, we can say that there is a “de-realization” of personality, as in denial of its reality. Bergson defined deja vu as “the memory of present”: he believed that the perception of reality in this moment suddenly splits and is partly transferred to the past.
Deja vu is quite a common phenomenon and its studies show that up to 97 % of healthy people experience this condition at least once in their lives, and patients with epilepsy even more often.
However, it is not possible to artificially induce this state and every particular person experiencing it rarely. For this reason, the study of deja vu is difficult.
There is a opinion, that a possible cause of the deja vu phenomenon may be a change in the time encoding by the brain. The process is easier to imagine as a simultaneous encoding of information as a “real-time” and as “delayed” with simultaneous experiencing of these processes. In this regard, there is a detachment from reality.
Currently, a reasonable assumption is that the deja vu effect may be part of provisional unconscious information processing, such as during sleep. In cases where a person meets in reality the situation, perceived on an unconscious level, and successfully simulated by the brain, close enough to the real event, a deja vu happens. This explanation is well supported by the high frequency of déjà vu occurrence in healthy people.
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