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Déjà Vu: A Second Look
Table of Contents

Section One: A Voyage into Déjà Vu

Chapter 1. When is Déjà Vu Déjà Vu?

V.M. Neppe

Déjà vu is a subjective experience that can be examined on many levels, such as misuse, logical explanation, personal descriptions, historical reviews of philosophical and literary speculations, and various scientific standpoints. This paper introduces the concept of déjà vu briefly discussing all these levels.

The term ‘déjà vu’ is frequently employed inappropriately in misleading journalistic or metaphorical contexts. By contrast, the scientific approach has postulated numerous logical scientific explanations for the mechanism of déjà vu. The sheer wealth of personal descriptions amplifies these excursions into the various scientific explanations. Particularly relevant is the role of the brain in déjà vu and the major current perspectives briefly relating to epilepsy, schizophrenia, psychosis, and subjective paranormal experience. The formidable complexity of the déjà vu phenomenon challenges any single explanation.

Chapter 2. Déjà Vu in Western History: A Review

A.T. Funkhouser

This chapter is a brief and provisional survey of déjà vu concepts and theories as they have appeared in occidental literature and technical publications down through the years. Primarily, various “firsts” are mentioned, the development of the terminology is touched upon, various early surveys and a thesis are described, and the early relationships of déjà vu to such areas as physiology, epilepsy, and psychoanalysis are gone into.

Chapter 3: Uncovering the Complexity of Déjà Vu

V.M. Neppe

This chapter provides theoretical motivation for what has become an empirically tested operational definition for déjà vu, namely, “any subjectively inappropriate impression of familiarity of the present experience with an undefined past.” Reasons are given for the rejection within the definition of such terms as ‘feeling’, ‘recognition’, ‘strong familiarity’, ‘illusion’, ‘new experience’, and ‘perplexity.’

Chapter 3b: Commentary: Uncovering the Complexity of Déjà Vu

A.T. Funkhouser

This chapter presents an insightful commentary by Dr. Funkhouser on Dr. Neppe’s chapter 3, and more particularly on Dr. Neppe’s definition for déjà vu, with a suggestion that the phenomenon of déjà vu might be too complex and multifarious to admit of any capsulization, but ending on the note that Dr. Neppe’s approach, using his definition and his four subtypes of déjà vu, is in fact a workable template for scientific research into déjà vu.

Section Two: The Nature of Déjà Vu

Chapter 4: A Single Cause of Déjà Vu or Multiple Etiologies?

V.M. Neppe

This chapter stresses that there is no single cause of déjà vu which can explain the wide variety of clinical pictures it has. Most instances of associative déjà vu are associated with predisposing milieu of anxiety and are triggered by restricted paramnesia and redintegration. Temporal lobe firing and the double access theories account for many of the experimental and clinical features of the déjà vu experience of temporal lobe epileptics. Several parapsychological hypotheses have been advanced. While these may be relevant in subjective paranormal déjà vu instances, they should be viewed from the perspective of seeking more parsimonious explanations. Déjà vu in schizophrenics reflects a further nosological category implying once again different etiologies, precipitators and pathogeneses. Research contributions are briefly mentioned.

Chapter 5: Three Separate Déjà Experiences?

A.T. Funkhouser

The term ‘déjà vu’ is unclear and needs to become more differentiated if it is to be used in scientific discourse. In this chapter, three forms of ‘déjà experience’ are described: déjà vécu (already lived through), déjà senti (already felt) and déjà visité (already visited). It is hypothesized that they may be the three most prevalent forms and may well have differing etiologies.

Chapter 6: Déjà Vu Subtypes: Four Challenges For Researchers

V.M. Neppe and D. Bradu

[abstract here]

Section Three: The Frequency of Déjà Vu

Chapter 7A: How Definitions Impact the Incidence of Déjà Vu

V.M. Neppe

The incidence of déjà vu is in part dependent on the operational definition of déjà vu, the measuring instrument, the giving of concrete examples and the recall of, recognition of, and the admitting to of déjà vu by the subject. Sixteen studies of déjà vu are reported chronologically. No single study (other than the McCready and Greeley one) used adequate sampling. Only the two studies by myself used an adequate screening questionnaire for déjà vu. There are no prospective studies. These results are discussed. This paper derives from a 1983 publication. Consequently the data is incomplete unless read in conjunction with chapter 7B, the appendix, which analyzes later statistics.

Chapter 7B: Update on the Incidence of Déjà Vu: An Appendix

A.T. Funkhouser and V.M. Neppe

[abstract here]

Chapter 8: An Aside—The Aged Debate: The Age Factor Through the Déjà Vu Retrospectoscope

V.M. Neppe

Neppe re-examines and amplifies his 1983 critique1 of Stanford’s disagreement with Alcock’s detachment of age from déjà vu incidence, and finds that the critique still stands after a quarter of a century. Factors unrelated to biological age, such as reluctance to admit the subjective déjà vu experience among older people, as well as the four distinct qualitative subtypes of déjà vu, militate against some of Stanford’s conclusions. Furthermore, the age/déjà vu inverse relationship must remain an open question due to the methodological inadequacy of studies to date. In addition, Neppe’s own research was found not to confirm Stanford’s assertion of such an inverse relationship.

Section Four: Extraordinary Frameworks for Déjà Vu

Chapter 9: Dreams and Déjà Vu: Chicken or Egg?

A.T. Funkhouser

There have been many explanations for how the experience known as déjà vu is caused. Here personal experience and various authorities (e.g. Dunne and Mylius) are brought together to support the notion that at least some occurrences of déjà vu result from precognitive dreams which are remembered concurrently with their “coming true.” It is asserted that such “previews of the future” while asleep are different in feeling tone from ordinary dreams. “Déjà visité” (unusual knowledge concerning a place one has never been to before) is held to be a different experience. Various characteristics of the déjà vu experience are described as well as instances of precognitive dreams.

Chapter 10: Subjective Paranormal Déjà Vu

V.M. Neppe

A major mystery surrounding déjà vu is its possible implications for life after death, or alternatively, at least some kind of genuine psychic experience. This is the theme of this paper, including examples from the literature and the author’s own writings. An entity of subjective paranormal déjà vu can be demonstrated phenomenologically by appropriate statistical and multi-axial methods. If it is a distinct entity, excluding out deliberate group falsifications of data, the likelihood is psi contemporaneous retrocognitive or precognitive. However, the survival and reincarnation hypotheses are less parsimonious alternatives.

Chapter 11: A Mystical Perspective on Déjà Vu

B.J.F. Laubscher

The unique perspective of Dr. Bernard J.F. Laubscher, psychiatrist, anthropologist and psychical researcher, is reprinted in this chapter, as it provides a glimpse into the more unusual mechanisms for the explanation of déjà vu which will remain an open question until scientific research is able to be applied to the area with sufficient rigor and thoroughness as to rule them out. Or perhaps the two types of explanation—the scientific and the mystical—will coexist indefinitely, on different planes.

Chapter 12: Out-of-Body Déjà Vu

C.T.K. Chari

This chapter enables us to offer the fascinating interpretation of a most interesting Indian philosopher, Prof. Cadambur T.K. Chari MA, PhD (1908-1993), late Chairman of the Dept. of Philosophy and Psychology at Madras Christian College, Madras, in India. Here, Prof. Chari explores the linkages of out-of-body experiences and the phenomenon of “doubles” with déjà vu.

Chapter 13: CTK Chari’s Broader Ideas of Déjà Vu

V.M. Neppe

Dr. Neppe in this chapter re-examines a rare early article on déjà vu by C.T.K. Chari and, while acknowledging the singular contribution of that Indian philosopher to the field in unfolding the “myriad manifestations of déjà vu”, concludes that Chari did not provide any way to render that mountain of information coherent and usable for research—underscoring the need for such phenomenological and analytical organization which this book, Déjà Vu: A Second Look, hopes to supply.

Chapter 14: The Categorical Transcendence of Déjà Vu

S.R. Kohn

“Déjà vu” is an inappropriate feeling of familiarity with new events or with new surroundings. This chapter attempts to sift through some of the neurologic, psychiatric, psychological, and literary explanations for the phenomenon of “déjà vu” in order to illuminate—within the framework of vivid personal, scientific, and literary examples of this provocative phenomenon—the elusiveness and complexity of its definition and nomenclature.

Section Five: The Future of Déjà Vu

Chapter 15: Does the Definition of Déjà Vu Withstand a Quarter of a Century of Research?

V.M. Neppe

Vernon Neppe’s 1981 definition of déjà vu—namely, “any subjectively inappropriate impression of familiarity of a present experience with an undefined past”—has withstood the test of a quarter of a century. Numerous authors have used this definition in their research and their theories. Modifications that have occurred are seen to be either identical with this definition, or prove to be inferior in that they unnecessarily limit or restrict the déjà vu phenomenon.

Chapter 16A: When is Déjà Vu Not Déjà Vu? A Second Look at Paramnesias

V.M. Neppe

In this chapter, we examine several special terms relating to anomalous memory. These are considered specifically in the context of when, if ever, they would overlap with déjà vu experience. We evaluate flashbacks and cryptomnesia with their past and non-present elements; restricted paramnesia with its incomplete forgetting; the concept of implicit and explicit memories with its subtle memory triggers, and redintegration with the part reinstating the whole. We also look at confabulation with the unconscious filling in of gaps and compare that with the new recollective confabulation. A related chapter, Chapter 16B, examines controversial non-paramnesic phenomena related to déjà vu.

Chapter 16B: When is Déjà Vu Not Déjà Vu? A Second Look at Related Phenomena

V.M. Neppe

In this chapter, a companion to the one discussing paramensias,1 we examine controversial non-paramnesic phenomena related to déjà vu. We look at related functioning such as distortions of time and space associated with familiarity.

We examine several special terms relating to distortions of time and familiarity. These are considered specifically in the context of when, if ever, they would overlap with déjà vu experience. We evaluate presentiment and pseudopresentiment as actualizations of some precognitions and compare these with déjà pressenti and déjà rétrosenti. This paper provides, ostensibly for the first time, defining insights into the differences between such terms as presentiment, pseudopresentiment, precognition, deja pressenti and deja retrosenti. We gain insights into unusual, poorly delineated conditions such as chronophrenia, and continuous déjà vu. We briefly examine Capgras syndrome, autoscopy and heautoscopy.

Chapter 17: Modern Research on Déjà Vu:A brief, selected update of recent ideas

V.M. Neppe and A.T. Funkhouser

This book, Déjà Vu: A Second Look, has attempted to integrate selections of key articles, modified and updated so as to allow a cutting-edge perspective of déjà vu. Additionally, certain other publications are dealt with briefly. Most notable are those of Brown’s implicit memories, Sno’s holograms, Jansen’s cognitive mechanism theory, and Kusumi’s theory of ‘meta-cognition’. These theories all fit within the “associative déjà vu” framework. Neppe briefly alludes to other theories such as Laubscher’s etheric body, Chari’s out-of-body experience, and Peake’s past life review at the subjective paranormal experience level. These theories—explored in this chapter—when juxtaposed with the theories of Neppe and Funkhouser treated adequately throughout this book—increases the number of déjà vu theories to 53.

Chapter 18: The Qualitative Differentiation of Déjà Vu: Does It Still Hold a Quarter of a Century Later?

V.M. Neppe and A.T. Funkhouser

In the early 1980s, Neppe divided the déjà vu phenomenon into four major subtypes. These could be analyzed in detail. This chapter updates information in this regard. It is particularly based on an active exchange between two of the leaders in the field and by so doing allows further insights into what is now regarded as the key subdivisions of déjà vu, namely temporal lobe epileptic déjà vu, psychotic déjà vu, associative déjà vu and subjective paranormal déjà vu, each representing qualitatively distinct nosologies—diagnostic groups— and features. In summary, it appears that these four subtypes still form the primary framework through which déjà vu can be analyzed scientifically. However, such subtyping is not meant to exclude any other further qualitative analyses for extra subtypes.

A significant amount of the research that is being done on so-called déjà vu is actually being performed on ostensibly normal subjects and involves associative déjà vu. Similarly, because of the wording of screening questions for déjà vu, the other three subtypes are often not being elicited. Such findings motivate precision in both terminology and the development of broader screening questionnaires for déjà vu. It also once again emphasizes how these subtypes depend on adequate definitions and the how only by such measures can we in the future understand the nuanced terminology that has become a critical part of qualitative analyses.

Chapter 19: Questioning the Questionnaires: Déjà Vu in Perspective

V.M. Neppe

Neppe subjects his original déjà vu questionnaire to a reappraisal. This allows Neppe to examine, revise and update his qualitative screening of the déjà vu experience, which formed a crucial part of his thesis1 and subsequent book.2 In so doing, Neppe critically assesses other déjà vu questionnaires that have been closely revised from his original work. Neppe historically mentions the work of Bernard-Leroy. The major impact of Neppe’s initial déjà vu questionnaire has influenced Sno as well as Ito in their development of shorter but fundamentally derivative questions based on Neppe’s originals. Neppe’s critique of these other questionnaires contributes to his updated questionnaire, the NNDVQ (the New Neppe Déjà Vu Questionnaire—2006),3 based upon yet significantly modifying his 1981 Neppe Déjà Vu Questionnaire.1, 2 A provisional attempt at adding validity to the questionnaire items is made.

Chapter 20: The New Neppe Déjà Vu Questionnaire—2006 (NNDVQ)

V.M. Neppe

After subjecting previous déjà vu questionnaires to a rigorous examination and reappraisal, Neppe has seen the necessity for a new updated déjà vu questionnaire. The New Neppe Déjà Vu Questionnaire 2006 (NNDVQ) is based structurally upon his 1983 original Neppe Déjà Vu Questionnaire of 19831.

In the final section of this book—The Future of Déjà Vu2-8—the advances in the area of a science of déjà vu over the past quarter century have strongly motivated the need for a modernization of the déjà vu questionnaire. This could act as a key tool in the arsenal of scientific researchers into this phenomenon in the decades ahead.

The NNDVQ represents a state-of-the-art computerized format for soliciting quantitative and qualitative data about déjà vu over the Internet. It has a relatively complex structure. Preliminary information like demographic data is obtained. Its comprehensive division follows with Screening Questionnaire and Qualitative Questionnaire components. This provides respectively, for screening and identifying participants for their relevant déjà vu knowledge and experience on the one hand, and on the other hand, soliciting in-depth analytical information about that déjà vu experience. Beyond that, the Screening portion of the NNDVQ inducts the participant into a tour of 29 kinds of déjà vu which Neppe has adumbrated and analyzed elsewhere2 in the book (three of these 29 kinds are specifically newly fabricated for the purpose of eliciting possible insincere responses particularly from respondents who would claim two or all three, though they may reflect real new kinds as well, and both possibilities are therefore ascertainable in the Screening portion of the NNDVQ).

In the Qualitative portion of the NNDVQ of Part Two, based in terms of structure and content on Neppe’s original 1983 questionnaire,though subjected to a significant revision, the participants are questioned in great depth and detail about their déjà vu experiences, as with the Screening portion, influenced at certain junctures by the contributions of Sno, Probst and the great 19th-century French pioneer of déjà vu research, Bernard-Leroy. Important areas covered are: circumstances, duration, temporality, nature of the feeling, emotional components, attendant behaviors, phases, part/whole aspects, age of onset, as well as related experiences such as dream experience, derealization and depersonalization, in addition to temporal lobe symptoms, psychotic features, and subjective paranormal indicators. The NNDVQ ends with a final question about the participant’s knowledge of déjà vu, post-questionnaire, and their subjectively rated appropriateness of responses. We offer the opportunity for the participants to receive their personalized Déjà Vu Profile based upon a computer calibration of all the answers they gave.

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