Jamais vu

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In psychology, jamais vu (/ˌʒæm ˈv/ ZHAM-ay VOO, US: /ˌʒɑːm-/ ZHAHM-, French: [ʒamɛ vy]), a French loanword meaning "never seen", is the phenomenon of experiencing a situation that one recognizes in some fashion, but that nonetheless seems novel and unfamiliar.


Jamais vu involves a sense of eeriness and the observer’s impression of experiencing something for the first time, despite rationally knowing that they have experienced it before.

Jamais vu is commonly explained as when a person momentarily does not recognize a word or, less commonly, a person or place, that they already know.[1] Jamais vu is sometimes associated with certain types of aphasia, amnesia, and epilepsy.

The phenomenon is often grouped with déjà vu and presque vu (tip of the tongue, literally "almost seen").[2] It is generally a rare phenomenon.[3]


A study by Chris Moulin of Leeds University asked 92 volunteers to write out "door" 30 times in 60 seconds. In July 2006 at the 4th International Conference on Memory in Sydney he reported that 68 percent of volunteers showed symptoms of jamais vu, such as beginning to doubt that "door" was a real word. Moulin believes that a similar brain fatigue underlies some symptoms of schizophrenia and Capgras delusion. Moulin suggests that people with these conditions could be suffering from chronic jamais vu.[1]


Jamais vu can be caused by epileptic seizures.[4]

Related phenomena[edit]

  • Déjà vu: having the strong sensation that an event or experience being experienced, has already been experienced in the past, whether it has actually happened or not. In French, this means 'already seen'.
  • Tip of the tongue: almost, but not quite, remembering something.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Health & Medical News – Is it really you or jamais vu?". ABC.net.au. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  2. ^ Blom, Jan Dirk (8 December 2009). A Dictionary of Hallucinations. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 978-1-4419-1223-7.
  3. ^ Brown, Alan S.; Marsh, Elizabeth J. (1 January 2010), Ross, Brian H. (ed.), "Chapter 2 - Digging into Déjà Vu: Recent Research on Possible Mechanisms", Psychology of Learning and Motivation, The Psychology of Learning and Motivation: Advances in Research and Theory, Academic Press, vol. 53, pp. 33–62, doi:10.1016/S0079-7421(10)53002-0, retrieved 29 January 2024
  4. ^ "Epilepsy and seizure information for patients and health professionals – Simple Partial Seizures", retrieved 2011-09-08

Further reading[edit]