This Thing Called Brain


I’m sure many of us have experienced at least once in our lives a fleeting sensation of doing or saying something that has already been said or done before. This feeling is so distinct the whole situation, people, objects etc. seem familiar to an extent that many a times one knows what is going to happen next. Despite being vivid in its clarity, when trying to recapitulate, one finds it difficult to unravel the exact details and ends up saying, “Wow, I just had the most unusual déjà vu.”

The French word, meaning “already seen” has been a mystery for the most part. The sensation instigates out of nowhere and lasts only for a few seconds, giving you a feeling it has happened before while consciously knowing that it has not. A number of theories have been proposed but nothing substantial has yet been concluded for why it happens, primarily because of the sporadic nature of its occurrence.


Hypothetically, déjà vu has been related to epileptics’ feeling of “aura” before they begin to seize and the same mechanism for its occurrence has been proposed, which is improper electrical discharge within the brain. However, this is just one theory. Another explanation is brain’s attempt to grasp small pieces of information from remote memory and putting them together to make a bigger sensible picture, which when occurs seems like an old experience.

The psychoanalysts describe it as a manifestation of wish fulfillment or psychological priming, kind of like a subconscious repetition of the past experience with a much “yearned for” better ending. Last but not least, one plausible explanation for it is brain lag i.e. we think faster than we see; thinking of a situation and storing it in your subconscious and ultimately, retrieving it from your memory and incorporating it in the current situation, making it seem almost identical. Or maybe its just something more spiritual. Like our spirit becomes aware of pre-mortal knowledge that we once knew and we try to live it out. Or maybe not.

This may not seem like a big deal to people who have had this feeling once, maybe twice in their lifetime, but there are others who deal with this problem quite regularly. Some start referring to it as their sixth sense and others just feel they are gifted because they have the premonition what is going to happen next.


Whatever rationale they conceal it with, they cannot stop people’s quizzical and bewildered glances when they narrate the whole scenario and it happens. They fear being called freaks or morons and want to know what is happening with them. Unfortunately though, there has not been much understanding of this puzzling subject to take it out of the sphere of “dysfunction.” This thing we call brain is the greatest of the mysteries that it conjures up.

Maybe it’s a short circuit in the brain or some distant memory slipping into the present, but research needs to be done further for better comprehension of déjà vu. However, there is nothing better than sharing your experiences to unburden yourself. Would you do it for yourself and for others?


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