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Jamais Vu: what is it, and differences with Déjà Vu

Jamais Vu: what is it, and differences with Déjà Vu

May 29, 2024

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

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

  • Perhaps you are interested: "Déjà Vu: the strange sensation of living something already lived before"

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 feeling that is not able to recognize a place, a person, a situation or even a word , despite others telling you otherwise or that rationally it is familiar.


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

However, the most common way you can experience a phenomenon of jamais vu is when someone is not able to recognize another person although he is aware that his face is familiar.

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


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

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

  • You may be interested: "Types of memory: how does memory store the human brain?"

The Doctor Moulin experiment

In 2006, a psychologist of British origin named Chris Moulin He presented an experimental process in a congress on memory. In this experiment, Dr. Moulin asked 92 people to write the word "door" more than 30 times in a minute of time.

Then, when he asked the participants about his 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 an invented word .


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

Your link to 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. The derealization is a dissociative symptom of several psychiatric diseases , 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 kind of cloud or sensory fog that distances them from the situation they are perceiving.

The feeling of jamais vu enters into these experiences of derealization, in which both people, as the moments and spaces are seen as different or changed but you can not specify in what way or why.

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

  • Related article: "Depersonalization and derealization: when everything seems like a dream"

Possible causes

From the field of neurology, we try 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 gap between the neural networks, which would temporarily deform the understanding of the external environment.

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

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

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

Jamais Vu versus Déjà Vu

Another phenomenon much more known, and which is in tune with the jamais vu, is the sensation of dejà vu. The effect of dejà vu also comes from the French language and represents the "already seen". In this case, and unlike in the jamais vu, the person refers to having already experienced what he is living, or refers to know a person who, in fact, has seen for the first time.

Sometimes, the feeling of dejà vu is so intense that the person firmly believes that he is able to predict what will happen next.

Synthesizing a bit the two primordial differences between jamais vu and dejà vu are:

  • Dejà vu refers to "already seen" and jamais vu to "never seen".

  • Dejà vu is a brain disorder that provokes the sensation of having already experienced an event that is happening at that precise moment, and jamais vu is an alteration in which the person claims not to have lived or not to know situations or people that he / she should recognize.

Other related phenomena

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

Presque vu

Although its literal translation is "almost seen", this phenomenon refers to the feeling of "having something on the tip of the tongue".

In this alteration the person feels that he wants to remember something, that he is about to do it 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 he has used it before, but is not able to name it.

Dejà felt

This phenomenon refers to the "already sense". That is, the person experiences a sensation that It is familiar but can not connect with any specific memory .


Deja Vu Meme Compilation (May 2024).


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