Friday, May 30, 2003

What's the opposite of deja vu? There's got to be a word that describes the feeling you get when you know you've been in a certain place or situation before, but it seems totally unfamiliar and you don't recognize anything. I thought about that a little while ago when I was back in Austin where I went to college and stopped off at one of the big shopping malls nearby. Obviously I had been there before, but it'd been so long that enough had changed and I didn't even recognize the layout anymore.

Hmmmm. After a quick search, it turns out that there really is a term: Jamais vu, which according to the Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary, means "a disorder of memory characterized by the illusion that the familiar is being encountered for the first time." It's normally associated with epilepsy and amnesia.

According to a Dr. Funkhouser [1] of Switzerland, there are several flavors of deja vu, too:

  • deja vecu, "already experienced or lived through" - you have a feeling of doing or saying something that you've done before
  • deja senti, "already felt" - you have a "hey, I remember that!" feeling all of a sudden
  • deja visite, "already visited" - you visit a new place and find it to be familiar

    [1] Dr. Funkhouser would also be a good name for a rock band.

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