Almost everyone has experienced déjà vu at one time or another. And, according to psychologists and neurologists, it is more common among younger people than among the elderly.
Déjà vu is the feeling or awareness that what one is experiencing at the moment has been experienced before. It is like a scene in a movie that has been rewound and then played back. The term “déjà vu” comes from two French words which means “already seen.”
There was even a popular song called “Déjà Vu,” which was recorded by soul singer Dionne Warwick. “Déjà vu/Could you be the dream that I once knew?/Is it you?/Déjà vu.”
Why does déjà vu happen? There are many theories that have been advanced to explain the phenomenon, from simple memory lapse to epileptic seizure.
And now comes Dr. Akira O’Connor, senior psychology lecturer at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, with a new take on the intriguing subject.
In an article that came out in the BBC Science Focus Magazine, O’Connor was quoted as saying, “Déjà vu is basically a conflict between the sensation of familiarity and the awareness that the familiarity is incorrect. And it is the awareness that you are being tricked that makes déjà vu unique compared to other memory events.”
According to the magazine, this memory illusion isn’t a sign of an unhealthy brain. It’s by no means a memory error; in fact, it’s almost the opposite.
As O’Connor argues, “déjà vu occurs when the frontal regions of the brain attempt to correct an inaccurate memory.”
There is no simple explanation to what exactly happens in the brain during déjà vu. However, says the magazine, the more competing theories share the same ideas. “Déjà vu occurs when areas of the brain (such as the temporal lobe) feed the mind’s frontal regions, signaling that a past experience is repeating itself.”
Having a déjà vu experience is not considered an unhealthy state, nor is it a sign of mental aberration. According to O’Connor, a healthy person will experience déjà vu once a month on the average, but several factors can raise your chance of having déjà vu experience, such as stress or tiredness.
Another is the relationship between the neurotransmitter dopamine and déjà vu. Drugs with dopamine tend to increase its occurrence.
But what if a person is having frequent déjà vu experiences? Could there be other non-neurological and nonpsychological explanations for it?
I think there is another way of explaining why or how a déjà vu experience happens. This may not be scientific, nor can it be proven in the laboratory, but the collective experience of many people around the world may prove this theory’s validity.
To my mind, there are three possible explanations why déjà vu happens.
First, it is possible a person may dream of a future event or incident. When he wakes up, he has forgotten the dream, but is recorded in his subconscious mind. So, when the dream happens in real life, he remembers it as having been seen or experienced before.
Second, it is possible for a person to spontaneously and unknowingly project his consciousness or awareness to a future event. Since it is not familiar to him, he soon forgets it. Then when the same event happens in reality, he remembers it has happened before, because, it is recorded in his subconscious mind. Many people have experienced seeing future events but pay no attention to them.
Third, it is possible that a person had been in the same place or event in a past life, and being there again in the present lifetime can trigger a vivid memory of a long forgotten event.
The story is told of a certain Christian pastor we shall call Reverend James. He was with several companions visiting Cairo, Egypt.
They were climbing the Great Pyramid at Giza. Reverend James’ companions were already near the top, but he was still in the middle of the pyramid when they shouted to him to hurry up.
When they looked at Reverend James’ face, he looked terrified and was sweating profusely. Unknown to them, he suddenly saw himself in a past life as one of the slaves building the pyramid. They were hoisting a big stone when it suddenly fell and hit him, killing him instantly.
That incident brought back memories of his life in Egypt in the distant past. From then on, he could remember all the places they visited and could tell what they would find or see in the place before they arrived there. Needless to say, Reverend James, who didn’t believe in reincarnation, had to change his belief in it.