Jamais vu

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In psychology, jamais vu (/ˈʒɑːm ˈv/; from French, meaning "never seen") is the phenomenon of experiencing a situation that one recognizes in some fashion, but that nonetheless seems very unfamiliar.

Often described as the opposite of déjà vu, jamais vu involves a sense of eeriness and the observer's impression of seeing the situation for the first time, despite rationally knowing that he or she has been in the situation before. Jamais vu is sometimes associated with certain types of aphasia, amnesia, and epilepsy.

Jamais vu is most commonly experienced when a person momentarily does not recognise a word or, less commonly, a person or place, that she or he knows.[1]

The phenomenon is often grouped with déjà vu and presque vu, or tip of the tongue.

Theoretically, as seen below, a jamais vu feeling in a sufferer of a delirious disorder or intoxication could result in a delirious explanation of it, such as in the Capgras delusion, in which the patient takes a person known by him or her for a false double or impostor. If the impostor is himself, the clinical setting would be the same as the one described as depersonalisation; hence, jamais vus of oneself or of the very "reality of reality" are termed depersonalization and derealization, respectively.

The TimesOnline reports:

Chris Moulin, of Leeds University, asked 92 volunteers to write out "door" 30 times in 60 seconds. At the International Conference on Memory in Sydney last week he reported that 68 percent of volunteers showed symptoms of jamais vu, such as beginning to doubt that "door" was a real word. Dr Moulin believes that a similar brain fatigue underlies a phenomenon observed in some schizophrenia patients: that a familiar person has been replaced by an impostor. Dr Moulin suggests they could be suffering from chronic jamais vu.[2]

Jamais vu can be caused by epileptic seizures.[3]

Related phenomena[edit]

  • Déjà vu: having the strong sensation that an event or experience currently being experienced, has already been experienced in the past, whether it has actually happened or not. In French, this literally means 'already seen', though in usage it is basically equivalent to déjà vécu, "already lived."
  • Presque vu: almost, but not quite, remembering something. It is also referred to as tip of the tongue.

See also[edit]