Dejavu

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When deja vu is more than just an odd feeling
British researchers are embarking on chronic deja vu, a condition where people can recite details of situations or people they've never before encountered.

One retired electrical engineer who had an awful sensation of deja vu was told to go to a memory clinic. Psychologist and memory researcher at the University of Leeds, Dr. Chris Mouli, said the man thought he had been there before, but which, in reality, he hadn't.

The phenomenon, which may affect one in 200 people with memory problems, is unlike the fleeting, eerie feeling people get from time to time that they've experienced something before, and that they know what's going to happen next.

Instead, chronic deja vu sufferers are constantly overcome by the sensation something new has happened before. Depression is common, and some sufferers are initially misdiagnosed with epilepsy or labelled "delusional" and put on anti-psychotic drugs.

Social interactions become impossible because people think they've met everyone before, which means they're overly trusting of people, and possibly inappropriately friendly

Dr. Moulin says studying deja vu can help better understand the relationship between feelings and consciousness and states associated with memory and how memory functions.

French for "already seen," deja vu was first described in the 1840s, and references in literature abound. Charles Dickens writes of the feeling "that comes over us occasionally, of what we are saying and doing have been said and done before," of knowing "perfectly what will be said next, as if we suddenly remember it!"

In fact, deja vu is a common memory error, one thought to happen more often to younger people and those with a higher educational background.

Dr. Moulin explains it this way: Deja vu is a feeling or conflict of two opposing sensations -- one, which is the feeling of familiarity, the other the objective knowledge that you haven't encountered the...
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