Jamais Vu: What It Is, And Differences With Déjà Vu

Shaky photograph of a young man with a hood.

The brain is, by far, the most complex and mysterious organ of all those in the human body. This is responsible for carrying out all the essential tasks for the development, perception and understanding of everything that surrounds the person.

However, sometimes this organ seems to work on its own, oblivious to the rest of the body, and creating a series of sensations and phenomena capable of confusing anyone. One of these phenomena is the little-known jamais vu

What is a Jamais Vu?

The term jamais vu comes from the French language and literally means “never seen.” In psychology, the phenomenon of jamais vu refers to when a person experiences a sensation that is unable to recognize a place, a person, a situation or even a word despite the fact that others tell you otherwise or that rationally it does seem familiar to you.

Usually, this phenomenon is described as contrary to déjà vu. However, in jamais vu the person has the impression of observing or hearing something for the first time.

However, the most common way in which a jamais vu phenomenon can be experienced is when someone is unable to recognize another person even though they are aware that their face looks familiar.

Likewise, it is also possible not to recognize a word used in a habitual way. One way the reader would have to check this is by writing or mentioning any word out loud repeatedly; After a few moments the reader will have the feeling that it has lost its meaning, despite knowing that it is a real word.

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This phenomenon, although difficult to study due to its infrequency and spontaneity, It has been linked numerous times to certain types of aphasia amnesia and epilepsy.

Some other experiences in relation to jamais vu are déjà vu, presque vu or the sensation of having a word on the tip of your tongue, phenomena that are explained later in this article.

Doctor Moulin’s experiment

In 2006, a British-born psychologist named Chris Moulin He presented an experimental process at a conference on memory. In this experiment, Dr. Moulin asked 92 people to write the word “door” more than 30 times in one minute of time.

Next, when he asked the participants about their experience, at least two-thirds of them, that is, around 60 people, said that the word “door” did not belong to the reality of a door, or even that it was a made-up word. .

Moulin’s justification for these manifestations was that when a person looks at or perceives something in a sustained way, and for a long enough time, the mind experiences a kind of fatigue which makes the stimulus lose all its meaning.

Its link with derealization

The feeling of derealization is an adulteration of the perception of what surrounds us, so that the person perceives it as something unknown or unreal. Derealization is a dissociative symptom typical of several psychiatric illnesses just as it can be a product of stress, the consumption of psychoactive substances and lack of sleep.

People who have experienced this strange perception of the environment describe it as a type of sensory cloud or fog that distances them from the situation they are perceiving.

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The sensation of jamais vu enters into these experiences of derealization, in which both people and moments and spaces are seen as different or changed but it cannot be specified in what way or why.

These alterations in perception can also occur in any of the other senses such as hearing, taste or smell.

Possible causes

From the field of neurology, attempts are made to explain this phenomenon as an alteration in the coordination of the different brain areas responsible for memory and the management of information that comes from abroad. This alteration would cause a kind of mismatch between the neural networks, which would temporarily deform the understanding of the external environment.

Although the sensation of jamais vu can occur in isolation and without any type of associated pathology it is very common to register this phenomenon in people with neurological conditions such as epilepsy, chronic headaches or cranial injuries.

Like many other similar disorders, jamais vu can find its origin in vestibular conditions, such as labyrinthitis or vestibular neuronitis, which interfere with the way the brain processes information.

Certain cannabinoid, hallucinogenic drugs or even nicotine itself present in tobacco can cause jamais vu effects. As well as lack of sleep, borderline personality disorders, anxiety disorders or any mental condition that includes depersonalization.

Jamais Vu versus Déjà Vu

Another much better known phenomenon, which is in tune with jamais vu, is the feeling of déjà vu. The déjà vu effect also comes from French speech and represents “already seen.” In this case, and unlike in jamais vu, the person reports having already experienced what he is experiencing, or reports knowing a person whom, in reality, he has seen for the first time.

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Sometimes, the feeling of déjà vu is so intense that the person firmly believes that they are capable of predicting what is going to happen in the next moment.

Synthesizing the two a little primary differences between jamais vu and déjà vu are:

Other related phenomena

There are other phenomena associated with alterations in the perception of the environment or with memory failures.

1. Presque vu

Although its literal translation is “almost seen,” this phenomenon refers to the sensation of “having something on the tip of your tongue.”

In this alteration, the person feels that they want to remember something, that they are about to do so, but the memory never appears. The most common way It’s a kind of anomie in which the person knows the word, can remember that they have used it before, but is not able to name it.

2. Let me feel

This phenomenon refers to what is “already felt.” That is, the person experiences a sensation that It seems familiar to him but he cannot link it to any specific memory