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Science

You've heard of déjà vu, but what about jamais vu? Many have experienced it without even knowing.

The opposite sensation of déjà vu can be just as bizarre.

déjà vu, jamais vu , nuerology, brains science
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Jamais vu is the opposite sensation of déjà vu.

Most of us have heard of déjà vu—that strange sensation that you have already experienced something as it’s happening in the present moment. A large portion of the population, 97% according to one study, can attest that they have felt a sense of déjà vu in their lifetime.

However, we can also have the exact opposite sensation, though very few people know the name for it.

Jamais vu—which in French means “never seen,” again opposite to déjà vu meaning “already seen”—occurs when something familiar suddenly feels completely, utterly unfamiliar.

“It is the feeling that something is unreal or unusual, whilst at the same time knowing it is something you are very familiar with,” Dr. Chris Moulin, a jamais vu researcher, told “Medical News Today.”

Think about when a word you regularly use abruptly has you wondering whether or not it’s spelled correctly. Or you see a co-worker you’ve known for years that, without notice, now feels like someone you’ve never met. That uncanny “recall without recognition” sensation, when pathways in the brain become unsynced and can’t make sense between what’s new and what’s familiar, is jamais vu.

While more rare than déjà vu, jamais vu holds a lot of similarities with its more famous counterpart.

For one thing, like déjà vu, the exact causes for jamais vu are unknown. There are, however, a few theories. Some experts attribute it to chronic stress or lack of sleep, others believe it happens as the mind’s way of protecting itself from trauma, or when a person becomes distracted while trying to process information.
deja vu, jamais vu, neurology

Déjà vu and jamais vu might be opposites, but they have a lot in common.

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While more rare than déjà vu, jamais vu holds a lot of similarities with its more famous counterpart.

For one thing, like déjà vu, the exact causes for jamais vu are unknown. There are, however, a few theories. Some experts attribute it to chronic stress or lack of sleep, others believe it happens as the mind’s way of protecting itself from trauma, or when a person becomes distracted while trying to process information.

For those of us who were spared of this disciplinary action in our formative years, the concept is well reflected in a small study from 2021, where six participants were given words to stare at for three minutes. After only one minute, the participants began noticing that certain letters looked “peculiar.” By the time the three minutes was up, they noted that the word stopped being a word at all, only “a collection of letters.”

jamais vu, psychology

Study participants reported letters looking peculiar are staring at them for 60 seconds.

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Lastly, both déjà vu and jamais vu can happen at any time, but only last for a couple of minutes. This last part is important to note, as jamais vu can often be mistaken for dissociation or delusions. Some psychiatrists even hypothesize that there may be an overlap between the three, especially when it comes to disorienting out-of-body experiences caused by psychedelics.

But overall, jamais vu is typically a brief, temporary moment that simply washes over us and then we go about our day. If this is an everyday occurrence, however, it’s best to get a doctor’s evaluation. Otherwise, it might leave you wondering if the Matrix is real after all, but nothing more harmful than that.

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Take the rest of the night off to sleep in your shame, boys. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

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Photo by David R. Tribble/Wikimedia Commons.

...according to the Pennsylvania Ballet, which reported encountering the post on the social media site.

The Pennsylvania Ballet, whose company members regularly wear tutus, had a few choice words for anyone who thinks their light, frequently pink costumes mean they're not "tough."

Commence epic reply...


(full text transcribed under the post).

A Facebook user recently commented that the Eagles had "played like they were wearing tutus!!!"

Our response:

"With all due respect to the Eagles, let's take a minute to look at what our tutu wearing women have done this month:

By tomorrow afternoon, the ballerinas that wear tutus at Pennsylvania Ballet will have performed The Nutcracker 27 times in 21 days. Some of those women have performed the Snow scene and the Waltz of the Flowers without an understudy or second cast. No 'second string' to come in and spell them when they needed a break. When they have been sick they have come to the theater, put on make up and costume, smiled and performed. When they have felt an injury in the middle of a show there have been no injury timeouts. They have kept smiling, finished their job, bowed, left the stage, and then dealt with what hurts. Some of these tutu wearers have been tossed into a new position with only a moments notice. That's like a cornerback being told at halftime that they're going to play wide receiver for the second half, but they need to make sure that no one can tell they've never played wide receiver before. They have done all of this with such artistry and grace that audience after audience has clapped and cheered (no Boo Birds at the Academy) and the Philadelphia Inquirer has said this production looks "better than ever".

So no, the Eagles have not played like they were wearing tutus. If they had, Chip Kelly would still be a head coach and we'd all be looking forward to the playoffs."

Happy New Year!

In case it wasn't obvious, toughness has nothing to do with your gender.

Gendered and homophobic insults in sports have been around basically forever — how many boys are called a "pansy" on the football field or told they "throw like a girl" in Little League?

"They played like they were wearing tutus" is the same deal. It's shorthand for "You're kinda ladylike, which means you're not tough enough."

Pure intimidation.

Photo by Ralph Daily/Flickr.

Toughness, however, has a funny way of not being pinned to one particular gender. It's not just ballerinas, either. NFL cheerleaders? They get paid next to nothing to dance in bikini tops and short-shorts in all kinds of weather — and wear only ever-so-slightly heavier outfits when the thermometer drops below freezing. And don't even get me started on how mind-bogglingly badass the Rockettes are.

Toughness also has nothing to do with what kind of clothes you wear.

As my colleague Parker Molloy astutely points out, the kinds of clothes assigned to people of different genders are, and have always been, basically completely arbitrary. Pink has been both a "boys color" and a "girls color" at different points throughout history. President Franklin D. Roosevelt — longtime survivor of polio, Depression vanquisher, wartime leader, and no one's idea of a wimp — was photographed in his childhood sporting a long blonde hairstyle and wearing a dress.

Many of us are conditioned to see a frilly pink dance costume and think "delicate," and to look at a football helmet and pads and think "big and strong." But scratch the surface a little bit, and you'll meet tutu-wearing ballerinas who that are among toughest people on the planet and cleat-and-helmet-wearing football players who are ... well. The 2015 Eagles.

You just can't tell from their outerwear.

Ballerinas wear tutus for the same reason football players wear uniforms and pads:

Photo by zaimoku_woodpile/Flickr.


To get the job done.


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