The Psychology of Déjà vu


“This is actually very weird, but i felt that this happened before.” -almost everyone in their lifetime has experienced a situation that they strongly felt they’ve been there before. At extreme cases they could even predict what will happen next; like a particular car passing their way or the color the shirt the man behind them is wearing.

Déjà vu, (/ˌdeɪʒɑː ˈvuː/)  came from French word which means, “already seen”. It is the phenomenon of having the strong sensation that an event or experience currently being experienced has been experienced in the past, whether it has actually happened or not.

In his book A Textbook of Psychology (1928), psychologist Edward Titchener explained déjà vu as a phenomenal moment where in a person can have a glimpse of a situation prior to his/her brain’s full awareness/consciousness of one situation, this “partial perception” then results in a false sense of familiarity.

Science’s explanation of this event is that its an anomaly in the memory, not a prophecy or prediction. It is believed that déjà vu is brought bu overlapping of the neurological system concerning short and long time memory.

Looking at déjà vu in the spiritual perspective, there is a statement that it’s God’s way of revealing certain things that will happen in the future, or it is a result of a same event from the past which will bring the same outcome.

Spiritual Science Research Foundation, a non-profit research organization based in Australia, United States and Europe conducted a research why people are experiencing déjà vu.

They found out that 50% believe that its a Tuning Fork phenomenon, 30% it’s a recollection of memories from past previous lives and 20% miscellaneous.

Some also conclude that it’s an outcome of ghosts’ interference.

Personally, I’m on the “memories from another life” side. For religions who believe that souls reincarnate when the human body dies, it is a possibility to retain memories if there is a strong bond between the consciousness and its soul.

Paulo Coelho, a  Brazilian writer, and world known author of the book The Alchemist said in his autobiography written in a novel format, Aleph (2011) that:

“No one ever loses anyone. We are all one soul that needs to continue growing and developing in order for the world to carry on and for us all to meet once again.”

He believed that soul reincarnates and go back to the mortal world to fulfill its destiny, and will continue to do so until its completed. Those destinies could be to meet someone and reunite with the other soul, or to accomplish a certain goal.

He also said of a certain ritual to be able to visit your previous lives by means of dreaming. (Read the book to find out)

Coming back to  déjà vu, I consider it as one of the little magics in life. Whether it’s a memory anomaly, interference of a ghost or a quick guide towards your path, no one can really tell. Well, humans are not given the free will for others to impose things into their system of beliefs. We’re individuals and what we choose to believe in is our decision.

For anyone who have experienced  déjà vu out there, you cannot deny the eerie feeling, that immense confusion-weirdness surge engulfing your senses. But in the end, who cares for explanation? What we felt is unique to us and that what matters. That quick glance of magic.



6 thoughts on “The Psychology of Déjà vu

  1. Pingback: Déjà vu? | Amara

  2. Pingback: Émile Boirac’s 1876 ‘Déjà Vu’ Open Letter – A Christening | Third News

  3. I like to think that we get the feeling of familiarity because we’ve already lived it in a dream. Or a past life. Idk, either way, déjà vu is fun stuff to think about. Loved it btw!

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