The curious case of Mr.Déjà vu

Wikipedia defines deja vu as:

Déjà vu, (Listeni/ˌdeɪʒɑː ˈvuː/; French pronunciation: [de.ʒa.vy]) from French, literally “already seen”, is the phenomenon of having the strong sensation that an event or experience currently being experienced has already been experienced in the past.Déjà vu is a feeling of familiarity, and déjà vécu (the feeling of having “already lived through” something) is a feeling of recollection.

It is fairly common for every general-brain-working person ( wrongly called, normal person) to experience this. 60-80% of the population has had atleast one deja vu encounter.

People with epilepsy experience deja vu more commonly. This is because they HAVE actually experienced a similar situation before but tend to forget it. Another reason is that they hallucinate. This type of dejavu is called biological dejavu.

What the rest of us experience is called associative deja vu. While undergoing an experience, we get a feeling that the exact thing has happened before. Our brain starts to see images what our eyes are seeing at that moment but tends to associate those images with the past. Because all of this is so inexplainable, we associate these images as our dreams. This is not true.


One of the reasons for this is that we only have the feeling ofdejavu when we are experiencing some actual thing. To explain more clearly, it’s never that we thought of something and after some time it started to happen. We are able to feel that something has already happened WHILE it is happening.

So why does it happen? Our brain malfunctions.

While undergoing an experience, our brain takes a complex route. It analyses the vision, smell, sound , touch simultaneosly with past experiences of these senses. Sometimes what happens is, our current senses get associated with those stored in our memory.

For example, Jack wakes up and feels like eating peanut butter. As per his boring daily schedule, he goes to his office to attend a meeting with his boss. Jack is seeing his boss’s disgusting curtains, repulsive beard and annoying grin. His brain processes all this smoothly. But wait! His boss is eating peanut butter! Now Jack’s brain immediately travels back to early that morning and involuntarily takes the present happenings with it to that morning. His boss tell him that he is fired.  Now his brain indulged in previous happenings thinks that his unemployement also happened early that morning when he was thinking of peanut butter.

Jack: Wow. I already dreamt about it.

Boss: Be careful what you dream of.

Jack: Wow. I am a genius. I am a fortuneteller. Now what?

Boss: Get lost.

No wonder Jack always found that grin annoying.


So, you are not a fortuneteller if you have a deja vu; you just need to eat some almonds.

Fun fact: You can remember events that didn’t even happen.

Freaky fact: Doors destroy memory. That’s the reason why when some people enter a room they forget why they did so. Basically, doors act as an event boundary that separate the happenings of one roome with that of another.


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