Persistent psychogenic déjà vu: a case report

Christine E Wells, Chris J A Moulin, Paige Ethridge, Nathan A Illman, Emma Davies, Adam Zeman

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    10 Citations (Scopus)
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    INTRODUCTION: Déjà vu is typically a transient mental state in which a novel experience feels highly familiar. Although extensively studied in relation to temporal lobe epilepsy as part of simple partial seizures, déjà vu has been less studied in other clinical populations. A recent review of temporal lobe epilepsy suggested a possible link between clinical levels of anxiety and debilitating déjà vu, indicating further research is required. Here, for the first time in the literature, we present a case study of a young man with anxiety and depersonalisation who reported experiencing persistent and debilitating déjà vu. This report therefore adds to the limited literature on the relationship between anxiety and déjà vu.

    CASE PRESENTATION: A 23-year-old White British man presented with a form of persistent déjà vu in 2010, approximately 3 years since symptom onset. He reported a history of anxiety and experiencing feelings of depersonalisation. Neurological assessment (electroencephalogram and magnetic resonance imaging) did not indicate any abnormalities. We assessed his recognition memory with a task used in patients with dementia who report similar experiences but lack awareness of their falseness.

    CONCLUSIONS: Our case's memory performance was more conservative than controls but did not indicate a memory deficit. Unlike other patients with chronic déjà vu (for example, in dementia), he is fully aware of the false nature of his déjà vu and this presumably leads to his intact recognition memory performance. We suggest that his persistent déjà vu is psychogenic and conclude that déjà vu should be further studied in psychiatric disorders.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number414
    JournalJournal of medical case reports
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2014


    • Anxiety
    • Case-Control Studies
    • Deja Vu
    • Depersonalization
    • Humans
    • Male
    • Neuropsychological Tests
    • Recognition (Psychology)
    • Young Adult
    • Case Reports
    • Journal Article
    • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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