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Chapter 5

Three Separate Déjà Experiences?

Art T. Funkhouser

...the term ‘déjà vu’ has become encrusted, over the years, with a number of unfortunate associations, ranging from reincarnation to temporal lobe epilepsy, which hinder further research. A book has recently appeared which has temporal lobe epilepsy as its main focus.3 In it, the author mentions déjà vu as being a symptom of psychomotor epilepsy, a contention that also persisted for a long time in most medical and psychiatric textbooks and which would seem to be based on this and other remarks by Dr. Jackson. The book quotes a neuropsychologist named Paul Spiers who told students at a lecture that if they had had déjà vu experiences, they were epileptics! This sort of nonsense continues at least in part because, up till now, our terms have been so poorly defined and this has hampered making adequate surveys which distinguish between the various déjà phenomena.

These ‘explanations’—along with others, such as delayed intra-hemisphere transmission over the corpus callosum (e.g., Wigan, 1844;4 Efron, 1963;5 Comfort, 1977;6 Weinaud et al., 19947), not to mention an astonishing array of psychoanalytical theories (an excellent survey is provided in Brown’s 2004 book8)—lead people to believe that all that one needs to know about such experiences is already known and that there is nothing of interest still to be done. I believe the time has come, therefore, for our terminology, especially in educated discourse, to become more differentiated. In fact, if I had my way, we would get rid of ‘déjà vu’ altogether as over-worked and entitled to a well-deserved rest.

To this end, I would like to draw attention to three forms of ‘déjà’ experience: déjà vécu, déjà senti, and déjà visité...


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