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This article is about the phenomenon, for the the comic strip of the same name see Déjà Vu.

Déjà vu (French pronunciation {deʒa vy}, meaning "already seen") is the experience of feeling sure that one has already witnessed or experienced a current situation, even though the exact circumstances of the previous encounter are uncertain and were perhaps imagined. The term was coined by a French psychic researcher, Émile Boirac (1851–1917) in his book L'Avenir des sciences psychiques ("The Future of Psychic Sciences"), which expanded upon an essay he wrote while an undergraduate. The experience of déjà vu is usually accompanied by a compelling sense of familiarity, and also a sense of "eeriness", "strangeness", "weirdness", or what Sigmund Freud calls "the uncanny". The "previous" experience is most frequently attributed to a dream, although in some cases there is a firm sense that the experience has genuinely happened in the past.[1]

The experience of déjà vu seems to be quite common among adults and children alike. References to the experience of déjà vu are found in literature of the past, indicating it is not a new phenomenon.[2] It has been extremely difficult to evoke the déjà vu experience in laboratory settings, therefore making it a subject of few empirical studies. Certain researchers claim to have found ways to recreate this sensation using hypnosis.[3]

Déjà vu in the Matrix[]

Deja Vu

A black cat repeating its exact previous movements.

Inside the Matrix, déjà vu is the repeat occurrence of an event that had already taken place moments ago. It happens when the code of the Matrix is altered.

In The Matrix, Neo sees a black cat walk by followed by another that behaves exactly the same way. This tipped off the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar that the code of the Lafayette Hotel had been changed, sealing off most exits, and that agents were in pursuit causing the crew to be caught in a trap.

Another form of this phenomenon in the Matrix is found in the titular comic Déjà Vu. In it, the narrator's wife constantly lived feeling déjà vu, experiencing things before they happen only to see them actually occur in her life. In the Real World her pod appeared to be only partly full, with her face above the level of the fluid unlike those in the other pods around her. She also became aware of the real world during nightmares which continued as she woke up from them, with both realities coexisting to her. After alerting the public to an imminent earthquake in San Francisco the machines seemed to fix her pod, putting an end to her déjà vu "repeats".

It is also experienced by the protagonist of the comic Goliath when London is "reset". The first time, after his central processing unit was destroyed by aliens and is subsequently put back into accelarated mode by the machines, he experienced the strangest bout of déjà vu for the first twenty minutes, knowing everything that anyone was going to do or say. Half an hour later in real time (but 9 accelerated years inside the Matrix) while on the tube the passengers all experience a repeat of events with the train stopping in the tunnel, and then pulling into Euston station where half the passengers got off, and the same passengers getting off at the same station straight afterwards three or four times before everything faded away to white. Again, just before they reset the Matrix, déjà vu came more frequently: "moments would stutter and hiccup and falter and repeat". At one point, the déjà vu also became more powerful and spanned years instead of just moments. The protagonist, who was already in his late twenties before the Matrix was altered, woke up to find he was again sixteen years old but uncannily still replaying his prior life "like we were sleepwalking through our lives for the tenth or the twentieth or the hundredth time."

Sixty years after the Machine War, the Analyst owns a black cat named Déjà Vu.

See also[]


  1. Berrios G.E. (1995) Déjà vu and other disorders of memory during the nineteenth century. Comprehensive Psychiatry 36: 123-129
  2. Neppe Déjà Vu Research and Theory, accessed on 2005-11-29.
  3. Brown, Alan S. (2004). The Déjà Vu Experience. Psychology Press. ISBN 978-1-84169-075-9.