Jordan Lejuwaan • • 3 min read
The Mystery and Meaning of Déjà Vu
The meaning of déjà vu can be translated from French as “already seen.”
Déjà vu’ is the eerie sensation that you have already experienced something before, even though you know that you have not. For example, you are at a backdoor BBQ talking to one of your friends and they offer you a hamburger. All of a sudden, you get the very strange, yet strong, feeling of déjà vu — that is you have been in this exact place before complete with your friend offering you a burger in the exact same way. This sensation stays in the mind for around 10-20 seconds and then it vanishes and can’t be grasped again in the same way it originally hit you. But the sensation itself isn’t even the weirdest thing about déjà vu….
For starters, science has yet to come up with a reason as to why or how déjà vu occurs. Obviously it would be difficult to study this phenomenon because of the random nature of the occurrences. Anyone who has ever had a déjà vu (approximately 70% of the population) can tell you that it happens out of nowhere and doesn’t last for very long. So even with advanced brain imaging and other techniques used to study the brain, scientists have incredible difficulty putting their finger on the mystery and meaning déjà vu.
The famous déjà vu scene from The Matrix:Things We Do Know About Déjà Vu.:
1) Epileptics commonly experience déjà vu right before going into seizure. This has led scientists to speculate that déjà vu is caused by an improper electric discharge within the brain which might cause an erroneous sensation of memory.
2) Déjà vu is most commonly reported between the ages of 15 and 25, though the sense of déjà vu is experienced by people of all ages with frequency varying from person to person.
3) The sensation of déjà vu itself is definitively weird. It’s not like “Oh, I think I’ve been here and done this before!” It is the very strange and eerie feeling that you have done this EXACT same thing before but for some reason you cannot remember it. The feeling isn’t negative, but it’s not the most comfortable feeling in the world either.
Another plausible theory about déjà vu is that our brains are confusing the situation in reality with something we have experienced in dreams or fantasies. It is well proven that there is a very fine line between the world of thoughts and the world of reality. For example, studies have consistently shown that imagining yourself practicing a backflip is just as effective as actually practicing it. With this knowledge, it’s easy to see why déjà vu could result from having done something similar in a dream.
However, once you’ve encountered the sensation of experiencing déjà vu, it’s difficult to buy into that last theory. Unless you had a dream in which you were in that specific backyard, talking to that specific friend, and he/she offered you the hamburger with the exact same hand motion, and tone of voice. I believe there has to be some other cause of déjà vu.
Regardless of the origin and meaning of déjà vu, the sensation of it is pretty cool. I hope you’re part of the 70% that has experienced it before because it is certainly different from any other feeling you’ve ever had.
If you have had a déjà vu experience that you still can re-call it today, share it below!