Déjà vu between Illusion and Truth


Have any of you ever felt like they have already experienced a present situation? It is a strange and unique phenomenon that takes place in the human mind, best known as Déjà vu (already seen).

The term Déjà vu was coined by French scientist Émile Boirac, in 1876, in his book The Future of Psychology. Although several scientists attempted to come up with other equivalent or explanatory terms, “Déjà vu” has remained the most used. Swiss psychologist Arthur Funkhouser classified the Déjà vu phenomenon into three categories: Déjà vécu (already lived), Déjà senti (already felt), and Déjà visité (already visited), all involving a sudden feeling that the person has experienced the current moment before.

Several scientists attempted to connect this phenomenon to a mental or psychological disorder that a person might be suffering from. However, this assumption was dismissed because it turned out that all people experience Déjà vu at least once. Déjà vu is closely related to the way the brain records an immediate event and how the two hemispheres coordinate this complex process. It is also related to the increased percentage of the dopamine neurotransmitters in some of the brain temporal lobe cells. Some scientists relate it to a defect in the process of emissioning electrical charges in the brain.

Another scientific explanation of this phenomenon is based on the fact that the brain is divided into areas responsible for different functions. For example, the visual center is in the back part of the brain, while the hearing centers are on the sides of the brain, etc. When a person sees something, it is first deciphered by the visual center that is only responsible for translating signs into images. Understanding new images or remembering familiar ones, on the other hand, takes place in the cognitive center. Sometimes, a delay occurs between the two processes allowing the photo to arrive to the memory center before the recognition center; hence, the brain thinks it saw it before.

Another explanation of Déjà vu is that, when a person exists in a certain place or experiences a certain situation, the incident is translated into neural signals. The neurons then send these signals to be saved in the short memory. This process takes place in a fraction of a second; yet, sometimes, the neurons send the same signals to the long memory by mistake, causing the feeling of Déjà vu.

As the long memory saves an infinite number of memories, this phenomenon can result from an experience we lived in the past and forgot. Yet, we could retrieve that experience, which made us think we experienced the situation twice. The point is that the human brain does not delete any piece of information it records, even if we forget it. Moreover, since the memories of the subconscious mind exceed those of the conscious mind by millions of times, what was recorded in the subconscious mind years ago will be summoned and remembered once the situation is repeated.

A metaphysical point of view considers Déjà vu a sixth sense that enables the super powerful human mind to capture the onset of events before they take place and complete it. Hence, when the event actually starts, the person thinks s/he experienced it before. Despite several explanations, there is no final scientific say about the Déjà vu reasons. It is not confirmed whether it has indications to the brain's position, its electrical charges, or the chemistry governing its vital processes. The case is still ambiguous and uncertain.

Déjà vu is a unique phenomenon of the human mind, which the Great Creator finely designed “and mankind have not been given of knowledge except a little” Surat Al-Israa (verse 85).

The article was first published in print in SCIplanet, Winter 2018.

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