Jamais Vu

Where am I?!?!?!…

Everyone’s had Deja Vu before.

Everyone’s had Deja Vu before. (Like that little trick, huh, huh? Oh, nevermind.) But how many of you have had Jamais Vu? Probably most of you.

People joke about, “Vuja De,” but in reality, a sort of “I’ve-never-experienced-this-before” experience does exist. Even if you think it’s never happened to you before. 😉

Joking aside: It’s called Jamais Vu, the opposite of Deja Vu. I did a little research on this topic, and found that 60% of people actually experience this feeling.

Still confused? Let me give you an example. Have you ever thought about a word for a minute too long, and suddenly, the word transforms into a sort of gibberish non-word, and you are totally baffled and bewildered but you can’t think of what the word means, or if it’s the right way to spell it, or even if the word exists. Still not ringing a bell? Try this. Write the word “Door” thirty times in sixty seconds…

Did anything happen? According to Dr. Chris Moulin’s Jamais Vu research at University of Leeds, linked above: when he tried this experiment on his subjects, he found that…

…68% showed signs of jamais vu.

For example, after writing “door” over and over again some participants reported that “it looked like I was spelling something else”, it “sounded like a made-up word” and “I began to doubt that I was writing the correct word for the meaning”.

Some thought they had been tricked into thinking it was the right word for a door.

“If you look at something for long enough the mind gets tired and it loses it’s meaning,” Moulin says.

Amazing. SImply amazing.

Other Jamais Vu weird experiences may include feeling suddenly lost in a familiar place, or talking to a dear friend and suddenly feeling like you’re looking at a perfect stranger. It’s a scary concept, like little bouts of amnesia that, thank God, eventually pass.

Mostly, this has happened to me when I get Semantic Satiation, or on the next morning of having something new. (For instance, a new car can feel newer the second day you own it than the first.) Has this ever happened to you before? Was it really that weird? 😉

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12 thoughts on “Jamais Vu

  1. This is fascinating! I know I’ve experienced this on more than one occasion…and I thought I was going crazy, heh. There are certain words I have to stop and say, “Wait, is that even a word? Or am I just spelling it wrong?” And then I look it up to remind myself and find I’ve been spelling it right all along!

    Now I think I’ve developed OCD for double-checking words, ideas…all sorts of things, lol. It’s like the longer you spend too close to something, the harder it gets to recall its meaning.

    Not good for writing!

    • And we writers can only beam at the possibilities this entails in our writing.

      How would our characters respond when experiencing Jamais Vu? Could forgiveness come more easily, or could a puzzle be thought of afresh?

  2. At least with regard to words, this happens to me all the time: I repeat a word over and over… and somehow the arbitrariness of the word takes root in my mind and it starts to lose its meaning.

    I know it happens, though, so to fix it I just try not to think about that word for a while, or if I do think about it, I think about it in pictures instead of words.

  3. Oh, goodness, yes — this is me, frequently. But how thrilling to at long last learn the term for it! I’d break into a spontaneous “Jamais Vu” song until the phrase no longer seemed to have meaning, except one or the other of my minstrels would probably take a staff to my head. So I’ll just be happy about my discovery in silence, I guess.

    • Ha ha! It’s nice to learn that I actually got someone unconfused about this subject.

      If you sing about it until you get whacked, maybe your brain will whip back into its correct place and you will no longer have Jamais Vu. Or at least, if you do you won’t remember ever having it before.

      But now…I ramble.

  4. Holy mackerel! What a crazy phenomenon! =) I consider myself a generally forgetful person, but this may be part of my forgetfulness. =P Especially when I get writer’s block and stare at words for too long! =)

  5. Wow, this is really interesting! I’d never heard of it, but I’ve experienced the feeling before. And that door example was great – it really confuddled my brain.

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