Ever get the feeling that you have seen or experienced something before, when you know you never have? This is known as déjà vu.
The most common misuse of the term déjà vu seems to be with precognitive experiences — where someone gets a feeling that they know exactly what is going to happen next, and it does. An important distinction is that déjà vu is experienced during an event, not before.
Déjà vu is a French term that literally means ‘already seen’ and has several variations, including déjà vécu (already experienced), déjà senti (already thought), and déjà visité (already visited). French scientist Emile Boirac, one of the first to study this strange phenomenon, gave the subject its name in 1876.
As spiritual beings, we come to planet earth to experience a spiritual evolution, a process that precedes and transcends the physical (see My Soul’s Journey, The Body, the Soul and the Spirit and Where do we go when we die?).
We are all born with an energy matrix and the blueprints of our journey. The DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid, a self-replicating material present in nearly all living organisms as the main constituent of chromosomes; it is the carrier of genetic information) of each human contains the individual record of the soul. That means that our entire lives are recorded in our souls and DNA before we are born.
This is what episodes of déjà vu are — every single experience of our lives, from birth to death, is imprinted in our souls (see Your blood, Your life). The information is stored like files in a computer, and sometimes our subconscious mind releases this information prior to certain events.
All theories of memory acknowledge that remembering requires two cooperating processes: familiarity and recollection. Familiarity occurs quickly, before the brain can recall the source of the feeling. Conscious recollection depends on the hippocampus and pre-frontal cortex, whereas familiarity depends on regions of the medial temporal cortex.
When these cooperating processes get out of sync, we experience the intense and often disconcerting feeling that a situation is familiar even though it has never happened before.