Chris McKitterick (mckitterick) wrote,
Chris McKitterick

deja vu and temporal lobe disorders

Okay, this freaks me out a little and might explain a lot about how my brain works. stuology posted a link to this How Stuff Works article on the deja vu phenomenon.

This line made me think: "Déjà vu has been firmly associated with temporal-lobe epilepsy. Reportedly, déjà vu can occur just prior to a temporal-lobe epileptic attack." When I was in the 15-25 age range that they say is the most common age for people to experience deja vu, I used to have it happen all the time. It would usually happen during a very stressful moment, as in arguing with my (first) ex-wife, approaching an accident, engaging in a fight with someone, or so on. I would be able to see - literally, visualize - and hear what was about to happen, sometimes just before it happened, seconds in advance... and when I would disobey the future deja-vu vision, things would progress differently.

It was especially helpful during those very stressful moments, because I could select the least-damaging or most-positive path to pursue. Oddly, not saying or doing anything at that moment usually led to the best outcome.

Similarly, I've always had a tenuous grasp on time-understanding, at least in a linear sense. I tend to think of time in, well, circles or spheres that move out from an event or duty or personal interaction, and things move "outward" from that, either into the past or future. Unless I set my alarm or Outlook reminders, I will often not remember to do something, unless it's related to one of those time-loci. I often forget to eat or go to sleep or whatever unless reminded, and I don't consider myself absent-minded; it's just that if there isn't some solid referent to time in my sense of it, I have difficulty placing it into a memorable context. Even things I care about or are important to me!

And this goes well beyond remembering things. I perceive of time in ways that confuse people when I try to describe it. I write science fiction which often deals with time in some way, I guess in a way to try to understand it. I feel a lot of satisfaction, a lot of euphoria, when reading, say, astrophysics or history books, because I begin to understand the universe better and am able to better place myself within the context of other events, like visualizing one's self on a 3-dimensional map or seeing one's house from Google Earth.

So these things have gotten me wondering... do I have some kind of brain disorder, something about my temporal lobe bordering on epilepsy, as they say? But without the seizures?

I can see how my deja-vu experiences when I could "see the future" could perhaps have been little seizures happening during major stresses, and I would perceive of time "backwards" during the incident. So the future was actually the past, but I was dislocated from it perceptually.

Have any of you experienced this?

The brain is a fascinating thing.

Tags: the human condition, the self

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