Over 70% of the global population claims to have experienced at least once a strange sense of familiarity with things that would normally be totally unknown, such as first-time visit to a store, a discussion that gives the impression that it has already taken place, although it has never happened, or the familiar face of a person who is actually seen for the first time. These are just some of the unexplained symptoms but considered normal, of the deja-vu sensation.
Carl Gustav Jung, the Swiss psychologist and founder of analytical psychology, described a strong sentiment of deja-vu when he was in front of a painting illustrating a doctor. The psychologist’s familiarity with the shoes and the clothes of the character in the painting ultimately led him to conclude: the painted person was himself during a previous life. At that time it was considered a bit strange, especially coming from one of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century.
What is the feeling of deja-vu?
Deja-vu “is that sense of intense familiarity with an event, landscape, person or place that you have never seen before. The feeling, although it lasts for a few seconds, is strong, we feel that “we’ve been here sometime” or “we’ve lived that sometime.” If it’s a person we recognize, we may have an irresistible wish to say, “I feel as if I have you known you for a lifetime”
And while there are currently over 40 theories trying to explain the bizarre functions of the human mind, scientists are still reserved on defining deja-vu. The first to analyze the deja-vu senses and the one who, in fact, created this term, was the French physician Emil Boirac.
In his volume called L’Avenir des Sciences Psychiques, published in 1876, the French scientist defined three types of deja-vu:
- deja-vecu- already lived
- deja-senti – already felt
- deja-visite – already visited.
Subsequently, derived from the first three types the feeling of deja-entendu – already heard, as well as jamais vu – never seen before, is an experience in which a person returns to a familiar place, but no longer recognizes anything.
A flashback memory or did the brain just recognise the elements from your precognitive dream?
One of the most ardent discussions in science is the understanding of the association between deja-vu feeling and precognitive dream.
Swiss scientist Arthur Funkhouser says dreams can be the cause of mysterious memories of the future. Although there is no general explanation for the emergence of such dreams, the tests conducted by Arthur Funkhouser at the Oxford University show that almost 13% of people have precognitive dreams. Additionally, a study done by an American psychiatrist, Dr Nancy Sodow, confirms the theory of Arthur Funkhouser, although the percentage indicated by the latter is no more than 10%. However, the number of people who experience precognitive dreams may be higher since the subject receives little attention and research.
But let’s have a brief look at 2 of the most famous precognitive dreams in history:
- Abraham Lincoln’s dream of his own assassination – two weeks before his death, Abraham Lincoln had a dream of seeing a funeral at the White House. Asking someone in the dream about what was happening, the person told him that the President had died, and then he saw his own corpse. He had this dream 10 days before his assassination. Initially, he did not tell anyone about this dream, but a few days after he talked about it with his wife. On the day of the assassination, Abraham Lincoln told his bodyguard he had dreamed for three days that he was assassinated. Lincoln saw dreams and feelings as something natural and instinctive, not something paranormal, and that is why he could not act to avoid his tragedy.
- Mark Twain’s dream of his brother– Mark Twain dreamed that his brother had died on the ship Pennsylvania, that he was in a metal coffin with a bunch of white roses on his chest, and only one red rose in the middle. He did not know how to react to this dream, thus he ignored it. A week later, his brother was killed in an explosion on the Pennsylvania ship. The moment he was present at his brother’s funeral, Twain realized that his brother was seated in the same metal coffin as in his dream, the only missing element was the bouquet. While he was grieving for his brother, a lady came and laid on Henry’s chest a bouquet: white roses with a single red rose in the centre. This paranormal experience led Mark Twain to start his research into the pseudo-scientific world of “premonitory dreams.” In fact, he was one of the first people to join the Psychological Research Society (a nonprofit organization in the UK), hoping to get some answers and solutions to prophetic dreams.
Don’t mistake premonition for precognitive dreams!
Premonitions can be experienced either through symbolistic dreams or through an unexplainable sensation/anticipation that something will happen when there is no reason or cause. Thus you experience the feeling of a situation, but not the event itself
Precognitive dreams, on the other hand, can be short predictive dreams, which apparently may seem odd, but which later on occur. That is the moment when the brain recognizes the elements of the event as a flashback memory.
However, despite studying the deja-vu phenomena for over 100 years, scientists recognize that the theories issued in the last century are not enough to explain these mysterious sensations. Probably the future technology will better understand the extremely complicated human brain and offer us a complete clarification. Until then, the contradictions between science and pseudo-science can leave room for interpretations of any kind.