Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Jamais vu to you, too!

Anyone that follows Theresa's Haunted History on FaceBook may have seen my post several weeks back about an eerie feeling I had driving home one evening.  To those who missed it, basically what had happened was that I was driving home, on a road that I have traveled probably at least 4 times a week (and in some cases, up to 4 times a DAY) since I was 18.  I have traveled this particular stretch of road between Winfield and Teays Valley so often and in so many different types of conditions, that a trip down it in either direction usually results in a form of highway hypnosis.  I can literally just drive down the road, not even thinking about what I'm doing.

It was perhaps this ability to "hypnotize" myself or induce almost a state of hypnagogia while driving that led to one of the freakiest things I have ever experienced on the road.  Things were normal as I was driving down the road sometime between 10pm and 11pm when all of a sudden, I experienced what felt like the beginnings of an anxiety/panic attack.  Without warning, EVERYTHING around me felt different.  I didn't recognize where I was and felt like I was driving down a road I had never been on.  The trees, the houses, the fences...no discernible landmark produced even a remote feeling of familiarity.  I drove about a mile, in a panic, searching for some clue as to where I was, not finding so much as a road sign to let me know I was on the right road.  Finally, the feelings subsided as I noticed an indiscriminate fence and knew shortly after  where I was.

Being a fancier of horror fiction as well as paranormal nonfiction, my mind immediately began applying different scenarios that I've read about over the years.  Alien abduction, time travel, and inter-dimensional shift were all things that admittedly crossed my mind, lol.  Then I started getting even more scared as the thought of it being a medical condition set in.  My mother has recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor that while non-cancerous is actually a type that is hereditary.  Further, in the past I have exhibited warning signs of temporal lobe epilepsy.  Not wanting to think about those types of things, I put it out of mind as a weird experience and forgot about it...until today.

I was going through some old papers, trying to get everything filed away and stumbled upon some notes I had taken from a book that I failed to cite.  In the notes was the term "jamais vu" and its definition.  I knew instantly what I had experienced on the road weeks ago.

Jamais vu is a French term that translates to the phrase "never seen."  In psychology and in everyday usage, jamais vu is simply known as the opposite of the more well known phenomenon of deja vu.  Not much is known as to WHY the brain reacts the way it does, but a well-known trigger of jamais vu is brain fatigue.  A study done by Chris Moulin found that when volunteers were asked to write the word "door" thirty times, a staggering 68% showed signs of jamais vu by the end of the experiment.  It is quite possible that my simple familiarity with the road and constantly being bombarded with its accompanying stimuli was actually the CAUSE of the feelings of NOT knowing.

So, unfortunately this was not a case we can attribute to paranormal means, but taught a valuable lesson in a little-understood phenomenon known as jamais vu.

Wikipedia Article

*Photo is NOT of the road in question


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