Most people have experienced déjà vu, whether they know what the French expression means or not. Déjà vu means “‘already seen” which is the feeling that you have had a particular experience before. You might feel as if you have seen a person before, or been to a place before knowing full well that you haven’t. A number of things can trigger déjà vu. For instance, you can hear a song on the radio or in a department store that conjures up the feeling that you have been there before. You could smell a particular food to make you feel that you are in your deceased grandmother’s kitchen again. You may even observe a scenery that puts you right back onto the playground of your elementary school. A déjà vu experience comes suddenly, lasts only a few moments, and leaves quickly for most people.
According to research, about two thirds of people experience at least onedéjà vu experience in their lifetime; however, very little is known about what causes déjà vu. According to BBC News, a 23-year-old British man has had a case of prolonged déjà vu over eight years. His condition has been so severe that he has stopping watching television, listening to the radio, and reading the newspapers because he feels that he had encountered all the news before, and there is nothing new for him to know.
Researchers have documented the man’s case and discovered that he began having symptoms in 2007, and they have continued ever since. DOGO News reports that scientists believe the constant déjà vu in him may have been triggered by anxiety.
Dr. Chris Moulin, a cognitive neuropsychologist at the University of Bourgogne who worked on the study, says the man had a history of depression and anxiety. For minutes and sometimes longer, he would get into a frightening time loop where he felt like he was reliving earlier experiences. The more distressed the man becomes by déjà vu experiences, the worse they become. In fact, Dr. Moulin says the man has even had déjà vu experiences of his déjà vu experiences.
It has been determined that people first experience déjà vu at the age of about six or seven, and it happens most often between the ages of 15 and 25. Older people don’t have déjà vu experiences very often. One theory about deja vu is that it is a “brain twitch” much like a muscle spasm or an eye twitch. It is believed that déjà vu is more frequently experienced by people with epilepsy and dementia.
No one knows for sure what causes déjà vu, or how to prevent them from happening. The suggestion for the British man with the severe case of déjà vu is to try to relax and live a stress-free life.
Have you ever had a déjà vu experience?
[Image via BBC News]