A 23-year-old British student has spoken of being “trapped in a time loop” after one of the most unusual cases of extreme déjà vu has crippled the last eight years of his life.
The unnamed male, whose experiences formed a case study in the Journal of Medical Case Reports, has been forced to drop out of university, stop reading newspapers or magazines, watching television or listening to the radio – because he believes that he’s seen it all before.
French for ‘already seen’, the man said his feelings of déjà vu were not those of familiarity but of him relieving the past moment by moment, and were sometimes so intense that the man describes them as “frightening”.
His case has baffled and intrigued doctors who examined the 23-year-old, who first experienced the sensation in 2007, shortly after he started university, because he does not exhibit any of the other neurological conditions usually associated with those who suffer from déjà vu.
Sheffield Hallam psychology expert Dr Christine Wells thinks that anxiety is causing the appearance of repetition in his brain – anxiety that may have been exacerbated by the man taking LSD before he dropped out of university.
"The general theory is that there's a misfiring of neurons in the temporal lobes – which deal with recollection and familiarity. That misfiring during the process of recollection means we interpret a moment in time as something that has already been experienced," she told The New Scientist.
Although many people can, and do, experience the odd occasion of déjà vu more frequent and intense forms of the phenomenon are usually displayed by individuals who have temporal lobe epilepsy.
Despite this, the man does have a history of mental health problems – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) runs on both his maternal and paternal sides – and has reported a history of compulsive cleaning his hands and showering.Reuse content