Déjà Vu- Seeing The Unseen
What is Déjà Vu?
Déjà vu is a French phrase meaning "already seen", and it’s used to describe the psychological experience of feeling sure that one has witnessed or experienced a new situation previously. An individual feels as though an event has already happened in the recent past although the exact circumstances of the previous encounter are uncertain.
In medical terms it is also called paramenisa or promnesia.
The experience of déjà vu is usually accompanied by a compelling sense of familiarity, and also a sense of "strangeness" or "weirdness".
Common misconceptions used by people to explain Déjà Vu?
The previous experience is most frequently attributed to:
1. a dream,
2. past life experience
3. black or white magic /spells
How does the memory system in our brain work?
To understand the concept of Déjà vu we have to understand how the memory system works. It can be divided into following steps (the language used is minimally scientific to ease its understanding):
1. Experience presentation- The conscious mind comes in contact with an experience. This experience is a combination of one or more of the 5 basic senses along with emotions and feelings.
2. This experience stimulates the brain to secrete neuro-chemicals. These chemical act on different parts of the brain to instantly create a short-term memory.
3. Short term memory is part of the memory system, were a memory is stored for a very short time. This could be a few seconds to few minutes. It’s because of this volatile nature that most information stored into it is normally lost.
When a short-term memory is recalled into the conscious mind, an individual feels the sensation of present time. The notion of present time, place and person is based on this interaction.
4. Long term Memory- When a short term memory is further reinforced by some stimulus or experience, a new set of neuro-chemicals react to store it into the deeper cells of the brain. It then gets converted into what is called a long term memory. The duration of this memory ranges from a few hours to years or even a life-time.
When this memory is brought into the conscious mind, an individual describes it as recalling an experience from the past.
Why does “Déjà Vu” really happen?
1. Scientifically déjà vu is not an act of "precognition" or "prophecy," but rather that it is an anomaly of memory system in the brain.
This can be proved by the fact that the sense of "recollection" at the time is very strong in most cases, but that the circumstances of the "previous" experience (when, where, and how the earlier experience occurred) are quite uncertain.
In “Déjà vu” the new stimulus or experience of an individual is stored both in short term and long term memories simultaneously. This anomaly gives a perception of having previously experienced a newly encountered situation.
2. Neuro-chemically it’s attributed to being a hyperdopaminergic state. That means increased secretion of dopamine in certain lobes of the brain.
When does “Déjà vu” happen?
The experience of “Déjà vu” has been linked with a serious of psychological causes, namely:
a. Highly psychologically emotional states
b. High anxiety
c. Dissociative identity disorder or depersonalization disorder
d. Clinical Depression
It has also been linked with certain neurological disorders:
a. Temporal Lobe Epilepsy
b. Non-pathological epilepsy like Hypnagogic jerk- the sudden "jolt" that frequently, but not always, occurs just prior to falling asleep
It has also been found to commonly occur in other general medical conditions like:
a. Combined Intake of drugs amantadine and phenylpropanolamine (used in common cold medications).
b. Drugs that increase the dopamine levels of the brain.
Treatment for “Déjà vu”?
“Déjà vu” isn’t classified as a disorder by modern medicine. But in cases of a more than one episode per month, an immediate neuro-psychiatric consult is required. In many cases it’s a very important symptom to early diagnose and cure otherwise dreadfully dangerous disorders.
If you know someone who is suffering from symptoms of the same, do get him the right treatment.
Dr.Hemant Mittal (MBBS, PGDPM)