Persistent psychogenic déjà vu: a case report

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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

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.

    Research areas

  • 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


  • Wells_Persistent_psychogenic_deja_vu

    Rights statement: © 2014 Wells et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited.

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External organisations

  • Université Grenoble Alpes
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Leeds

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