18 July 2007

Déjà who or is that whom?

Have you ever experienced the feeling that you've been somewhere before? While many call this Deja Vu, the true term is Deja vecu which means already lived. But I'm not typing that weird word over and over. And, sorry, I can't do the symbols either as Blogger doesn't like them.

Deja Vu: (from Wikipedia) Is French and means already seen. It's also called paramnesia from the Greek word para (for parallel) and mnēmē (for memory) describes the experience of feeling that one has witnessed or experienced a new situation previously. The experience of deja vu is usually accompanied by a compelling sense of familiarity, and also a sense of eeriness.

Example (Written by me and totally fictitious)

The Vu-er arrives in a new town. He and his friends check into their hotel, then decide to walk around the historic downtown area and get lost. However, our Deja Dude finds himself recognizing landmarks and walks faster, led by instincts he doesn't understand and at first doesn't question. His friends follow, thinking he's been to B-town before. Of course, when asked he'll more than likely chalk it up to his Class A navigational skills and blow it off. But, deep down he'll wonder just how he knew to turn left at the big oak tree with a 200 year old lightening scar to get back to the town square.

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While some accept these altered states of consciousness as a blip in their perceptions in reality others believe these 'flashes' are proof positive that they've either lived before, can see into the past or future or both. Whichever one is chosen, most agree it can be a creepy feeling.

But what part of the brain is stimulated when when deja vu comes calling? All of them are involved because heightened senses of smell, hearing and sight and even 'auras' have been documented. Deja vu can also be a warning sign of an upcoming episode for those with seizure disorders. Perhaps stimulated isn't the word, maybe overstimulated like a brain storm or a hiccup.

The scientific jury is still out on what exactly it is, despite leaps and bounds in medical science. The brain, or more accurately, the mind, is uncharted territory. They don't really know why we get that feeling of "I've been here before." or why we dream about places we've never been and walk down streets our feet have never touched in reality.

So is deja vu a waking dream or is it something more wild and paranormal? Perhaps our psyches are trying to tell us some great big cosmic joke and one day we'll wake up--or is that fall deeper into the dreaming?--and laugh at the punch line. Until then it'll remain one of those neat puzzles to figure out. Because while we're able to scan the brain, and even cut it up and look inside it so far we haven't quite managed to figure out how to look at the human imagination under a microscope.

Dreams. The Final Frontier.

Jenna Leigh
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