A phenomenon two in three people report. Most of us shrug it off as a mental hiccup. Indeed, researchers propose it’s a sense of familiarity without a recollection of why something is familiar, or perhaps a timing issue in the brain where thoughts are experienced twice because of a slight wiring delay, lending the second occurrence an odd sensation of repetition. But some people believe it’s a glimpse into a past life. To put it in to terms, it’s that overwhelming sense you get during a conversation, or upon walking into a room (even though it seems impossible), that you have experienced it before; time is somehow playing back like a movie on rewind. Psychologists call it déjà vu, or “already seen” in French, but in spite of its universal familiarity, nobody has yet been able to deliver conclusive proof as to why it happens, or what causes it. There are many explanations circulating which attempt to explain déjà vu from mundane to the fantastic; these theories range from paranormal events on one end , to neurological disorders on the other.
The term déjà vu was applied by Emile Boirac (1851-1917), who had strong interests in psychic phenomena. Boirac's term directs our attention to the past. However, a little reflection reveals that what is unique about déjà vu is not something from the past but something in the present, namely, the strange feeling one has. We often have experiences the novelty of which is unclear. In such cases we may have been led to ask such questions as, "Have I read this book before?" "Is this an episode of True Blood I've seen before?" "This place looks familiar; have I been here before?" Yet, these experiences are not accompanied by an uncanny feeling. We may feel a bit confused, but the feeling associated with the déjà vu experience is not one of confusion; it is one of strangeness. There is nothing strange about not remembering whether you've read a book before, especially if you are fifty years old and have read...
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