Epilepsy Talk

Déjà Vu or Prescience? | April 25, 2020

Think of it as knowing something from the past…or feeling a premonition of the future.

Those who have experienced the déjà vu feeling describe it as an overwhelming sense of familiarity, with something that shouldn’t be familiar at all.

Those who experience prescience, feel they have the ability to see into the future in some way.

Déjà vu – Every day is groundhog day!

The term “déjà vu” means, literally, “already seen”.

Déjà vu has been firmly associated with temporal lobe epilepsy.

Reportedly, déjà vu can occur just prior to a temporal lobe seizure as an aura. 

But you can experience déjà vu during the actual seizure activity or in the moments between seizures.

Take the neurological circuitry of the hippocampus, a region of the brain where new memories are formed.

Neuroscientists know memories are actually groups of brain cells linked by especially strong chemical connections; recalling a memory involves finding and activating a specific group.

It’s also this circuit, the scientists are convinced, that explains déjà vu.

Every so often, the circuit misfires, and a new experience that’s merely similar to an older one, seems identical.

It doesn’t happen very often to most people. But, some people with epilepsy have this experience all the time.


Because seizures involve random firing of neurons in the temporal lobes, which include the hippocampus, and that could scramble the circuit.

In a person with chronic déjà vu this circuit is either overactive or permanently switched on, creating memories where none exist.

When novel events are processed, they are accompanied by a strong feeling of remembering.

So, you remember specific details about something that never actually occurred.

Prescience – Crystal ball, crystal ball…

Well, let’s see…

We’ve been described as mutants, aliens, crazies.

But in fact, only one study to date has been done on prescience.

And that study concludes that prescience is an aura of temporal lobe epilepsy.

The study is written up in PubMed and basically says: all of the patients tested had similar experiences.

They described the phenomenon as “knowing” what was going to happen in the immediate future.

The experience was distinct from déjà vu and other psychic experiences.

And all of the patients “probably” had temporal lobe epilepsy.

Only one other description of prescience as an ictal feature was found.

The conclusion was: Prescience can occur as an ictal feature of temporal lobe epilepsy and represents a previously under-reported psychic phenomenon.

Obviously, there a bit more studying to be done.

But speaking from personal experience, prescience is downright scary.

In one way, it’s a gift.

I warned a friend not to go on a skiing trip.

Happily, he didn’t.

But there was a serious car accident and the passenger seat of the car (where he would have been sitting) got totaled.

That’s the good news.

Other times, it’s a curse.

I’ve had the prescience to foresee events (usually unhappy), but I was helpless to do anything.

Because even though I “knew” they were going to happen, I didn’t know when.

So, given the choice, I’d take déjà vu over prescience any day.

What about you?

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  1. My deja vu phase began with early adolescence and continued into my 30s. It was most frequent in the early years. There were times when I counted up to 30 episodes an hour. The diagnosing neurologist said that twice a year is the norm in the general population.

    As for prescience, it comes and goes. Usually it’s very casual, my mouth engaged while my brain races to catch up.

    There are people who are AVID to discuss prescience and / or tap into it, and I have learned to avoid them, especially those who find it, uh, holy. I would sooner discuss seizures than prescience with someone I don’t know well because the topic seems to bring out the creep factor in a fair number of folks.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by HoDo — April 25, 2020 @ 1:07 PM

    • When I was young, my seizures were really constant. That’s when I had prescience. The bad part was that I would envision something awful happening, but I didn’t know when or where.

      One weekend, my boyfriend was going skiing and I begged him not to go. He did go, but his friend opted out.

      Marshall was in a major accident and the passenger side was demolished.

      Talk about scary…

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 25, 2020 @ 1:37 PM

      • Sorry to hear that Phylis.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — April 25, 2020 @ 8:54 PM

    • I think that’s just a “fear factor” in lots of people. Holy? I’m not sure about that. Your SPECIAL HODO 😊🦅💕

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Kathy S.B — April 26, 2020 @ 12:32 AM

  2. Whatever everyone likes to call it, I say it is the terror & fear that agrivates your brain before the pure hell of a GRAND MAL SEIZURE attacks your brain. It’s like that school bully who nags you to death but never does anything serious to you, and you can not fight back, so he or she stops, as like an aura stops. But when that bully decides to attack, you have no chance then to protect or prevent yourself from a seizure. 2 times in school I took care of the bullies I had, & then other bullies stayed away. I wished there was something more powerful, that I can do to STOP & HURT the negative energies to STOP FOREVER the seizure activity & seizures themselves, as sometimes what happens was nothing to stop the seizure, but there were other times that my lobelia did seem to work as a road block & the aura stopped all but instantly, & then there were other times I felt it was all gone & BOOM !! goodbye, I’ll see you IF I wake up. So if there was 1 AED that stopped these seizure activities, I would be saying 24/7, 365 days a year what that drug is. but neurologists, AAN, CDC, FDA & BIG PHARMA had made that impossible to see that 1 person has 1 AED to claim that SEIZURE FREE LIFE in their life, so by 2025, expect to see more than 75 MILLION to have at least 1 or more seizure conditions.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by James D — April 25, 2020 @ 1:42 PM

    • I think it’s the terror that aggravates us into having a seizure induced by the fear in the fight NOT TO HAVE A SEIZURE!! To me the aura was a sign that had to be taught to my husband, children, family and friends that I am possibly about to fight a seizure due to stress. Or something is really bothering me I never tell them about. Therefore I now always just deal with the demons or bullies because I already have nothing to lose and there’s always something the I usually have to say or be heard. I find now I have certain aunties and family members who DO NOT LIKE that I actually say things outloud or in front of everyone so I will not have a seizure. I.e. I have nothing to hide of lie about but (then I just say whatever is really bothering me or is wrong. So I won’t have a seizure). People may try to make you believe it’s all you/I or it’s “brain warfare”, however sometimes it’s just too much stress imposed upon you/i by them or others. Oh I hope that makes sense. Sorry if it doesn’t.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Kathy S.B — April 26, 2020 @ 12:58 AM

  3. James, I like your analogy of the terror and fear that aggravates your brain.

    Brain warfare could lead to out of a number of things, including illusions and visions and out of body experiences:

    People Talk About Their Out-Of-Body Experiences


    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 25, 2020 @ 2:02 PM

    • Oh, brain warfare, what a tricky topic, since it’s my own brain. Civil and not so civil war.

      For a long time I did think of my brain in its seizing state as a kind of enemy, unloved and unwanted.

      Oddly enough, it was knowing someone who used a wheelchair that changed my attitude to one of an older sibling caring in the best way possible for a younger, less stable sibling.

      That change in attitude – which wasn’t quick or easy – made a lot of energy, formerly used in being angry, available for more useful purposes. Mostly.

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by HoDo — April 25, 2020 @ 2:17 PM

      • One of the best lessons I learned in therapy was how to turn negative energy into positive energy. Like channeling the bad into good.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 25, 2020 @ 4:08 PM

      • I learned the words, for sure. Transformation, though is a continuous process for me, rather than a one-time thing, so it doesn’t always work (well). Waiting in line to get into the grocery *can* become meditation. Always grateful for a reminder that it’s possible.

        Liked by 2 people

        Comment by HoDo — April 25, 2020 @ 4:36 PM

      • It’s almost like a learning how to teach yourself what to channel into. I won’t lie I don’t like talking to anyone (who doesn’t already know) because I don’t want to have to even begin to try and explain WHY I STOP MYSELF AND GO QUIET AND ALMOST TRY AND THINK AND CHANNEL THE ONES I LOVE THE MOST IN THE UNIVERSE!!!!! 🙏🏼🦅❤️💝💗

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — April 25, 2020 @ 9:05 PM

      • Lol for me it’s when (being the youngest or baby of my grandma’s) I find a lot of it came down to “intimidation” by my older family or even biological reproducer. Therefore I try my best not to do or be that way with others. So I just leave or lock myself in my bedroom until I know I don’t have the seizure. I call it my “warning system”. Usually everyone will catch on they need to calm down and back off. Except my husband. Funny he says when I’m upset with him then even I won’t listen to him if I do end up having a seizure.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — April 26, 2020 @ 1:06 AM

      • No use being mad, but if used to help oneself in a way to becoming aware of it (and of course not telling most people) and using it as a tool ahead of time to “keep your head up and get prepared” either for yourself or those around you or those you maybe closest to in your heart.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — April 25, 2020 @ 9:01 PM

      • ARE YOU EVER RIGHT!! Thank you HoDo 😊🦅💗

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — April 26, 2020 @ 12:59 AM

  4. Plus people already think I’m crazy and I wouldn’t want to be a “LAB RAT” that wouldn’t be heard or believed. Lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — April 25, 2020 @ 9:07 PM

    • Between those of us in “EPILEPSY TALK” FAMILY because I know I already make people uneasy sometimes (being the youngest and probably least tolerant of my aunties/uncles and biological reproducer) my husband kind of laughs and says to me “YOU DID THAT ON PURPOSE DIDN’T YOU?!”. My response is “well they all left of at least left us alone!!!!! Lol 😂”. Or my aunties and biological reproducer will try and challenge me and I’ll just challenge them back and my husband usually kicks me under the table!!!!!!! 😂😂😂😂😂😂. Lol 😂 they like to think we an “unspoken special breed. I just laugh and make sure to let them know “their a special breed of the CHICKEN SCRAP SORT!!” Lol 😂. Usually that’s when my husband makes us leave ASAP!!!!!!! LMAO 😂 😂😂😂😂

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Kathy S.B — April 26, 2020 @ 11:37 AM

  5. Plus maybe it’s age too. Lol goodness I’m going to be 50 years old in June and I’ve lived with this my whole life!! So I might as well learn how to use to my benefit to protect and help myself, husband, children and some friends. But I agree it can be frustrating too or more of a nuisance as well. I guess for me my husband and children (and sometimes even friends) just grew to know I know and feel something and I learnt to use it in a way that helps me help and protect myself. As for everyone else well they don’t have to deal with the seizures or epilepsy so it’s not their issue and I just will not disclose anything to them ever!!!!!!! Secretly they all think they have something and I just call it “crazy” lol 😝

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — April 26, 2020 @ 12:03 PM

  6. It’s nice to have the “EDUCATED PROFESSIONALS” yes, BUT sometimes the “EDUCATION” can also bring out the “IGNORANCE” and lack of humiliation and sincerely asking “for help and guidance” where maybe they may never understand because they don’t have “epilepsy”. On the other hand it’s also nice to be able for us JUST TO KNOW IT IN OURSELVES!! Because maybe that’s our way of really protecting and helping ourselves and eachother. Please have a very good day today and please take care of yourselves and be well 😊🦅💗

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — April 26, 2020 @ 12:20 PM

  7. I think we educate ourselves, together as a group.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 26, 2020 @ 1:18 PM

  8. I certainly am familiar with experiencing deja vu prior to Petit Mal seizures. When that occurs I start a process that is VERY successful most of the time in preventing the onset of a seizure. Start taking SLOW and DEEP breaths, start looking around at items surrounding you (placing full attention AWAY from what’s happening to your body). Continue for about 5 minutes or so. This takes neurological power away from the seizure materializing because you’re putting attention elsewhere. Your body may go a bit limp but I guarantee that you’re quite likely to succeed in taking power away from the seizure. Give a try. Just figure that you have nothing to lose but the seizure! Best of luck 👍🤗

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Alicia Reynolds — April 26, 2020 @ 2:44 PM

  9. I do deep breathing, too! 10 seconds in…10 seconds out…for about 5 minutes.

    Good description, Alicia!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 26, 2020 @ 2:49 PM

  10. I have had deja vu experiences for years and even writing about it now gets my heart beating rapidly. I managed to deal with it fairly well by helping people more in need, and thus helping bring me more back to reality. I’m still a little unsure about the idea of prescience.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by skolly9 — April 26, 2020 @ 4:56 PM

  11. Just as unsure as I am of deja vu!

    But Skolly, you ALWAYS help people in need! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 26, 2020 @ 4:59 PM

  12. You know I think that is just it. Possibly or even maybe because everyone is already unsure or made to be unsure of us a “epileptics” we need to be sure of who we are and how special we really are just by believing in eachother and ourselves. FAITH, TRUST, HONESTY, COMPASSION, HOPE, CARING AND LOVE YOURSELF!! Because your are UNIQUELY YOU and you are believed and I have faith in your own knowledge of yourself and epilepsy 😊🦅😇💗. P.S. lol 😂 it takes too much energy for me to be unsure of déjà vu or prescience!! So I can only make myself be sure of who I am already with “UNIQUENESS” 😊🦅💕

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — April 26, 2020 @ 9:51 PM

  13. By helping others, you help yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 26, 2020 @ 9:53 PM

  14. Yes we do!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — April 26, 2020 @ 10:47 PM

  15. I didn’t realise that the de ja vu was aura or was occuring at the same time as the seizure? Not much of a warning! Coz I’ve suffered for many years since I’ve got uncontrolled temporal lobe epilepsy. And I can’t see how to predict things and trust or guarantee my predictions?

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Keri Teavae — April 27, 2020 @ 3:38 AM

    • Same here. It’s frustrating because when I had prescience (my seizures were at their peak), I knew something was going to happen, but I didn’t know when.

      Do you have deja vu, too?

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 27, 2020 @ 9:56 AM

    • They said I have “right temporal epilepsy” as wel

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Kathy S.B — April 27, 2020 @ 10:11 AM

  16. I know that if I experience deja vu I am pretty much guaranteed to have a seizure so it’s a good warning. I find Jamais vu even more strange, approaching my front door but not recognising it, or walking on a familiar stretch of beach that seems completely alien to me. Knowing that it is all part of having temporal lobe epilepsy and that I’m not going mad, is somewhat comforting though.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Shelly — April 27, 2020 @ 7:17 AM

    • I’ve never had jamais vu, but I can guess it’s disconcerting, at the very least.

      But, if deja vu is a warning, at least it serves some kind of purpose.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 27, 2020 @ 10:01 AM

      • I’ve never (I don’t think) had “jamais vu” either. So I wouldn’t even begin to know what it is I’m sorry.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — April 27, 2020 @ 10:13 AM

    • My most recent jamais vu was on a stretch of freeway I drive (or did until the shutdown) probably three times a week. Suddenly, no idea where I was, none. No convenient place to pull over until the feeling passed.

      So I thought – with some interest and curiosity – there’s bound to be a sign soon. Then I’ll know – unless I can’t read it. But there’s going to be an exit, a place to pull over, to use the phone. Surprisingly calm, even though there was the thought, what if this is a foreign country? Burma suggested itself, who knows why.

      And of course there were the exit signs and they were in English, and readable, so my brain was working. Luckily those episodes are rare.

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by HoDo — April 27, 2020 @ 10:44 AM

  17. Lol but I DO REMEMBER ONE TIME my husband and I went to the neurologist and he kept looking at me!! (Yes it did bug me for some reason) and I finally just told him to please just tell me what he’s thinking? Lol then told him. Secretly I think it made him uneasy 😬 😳😨

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — April 27, 2020 @ 10:16 AM

  18. One thing I can WHOLEHEARTEDLY ADMIT is I don’t always have that, but when I do I know it’s my own personal warning system. To either deal with it, play with others or just leave it alone. Most of the time I leave it alone. Unless of course I get upset and just need to deal with people head on or humble them in my own subtle way 😘

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Kathy S.B — April 27, 2020 @ 10:20 AM

  19. I have localized epilepsy. Where and how, I don’t know. EEG and MRI’s fine. I’ve had a few deja vu’s. What people don’t get is that it isn’t like “Oh my gosh, this feels so familiar, it’s deja vu!” No, it’s a powerful and overwhelming feeling of conviction that you’ve seen and done this and were having this conversation all exactly like this before and you just can’t believe it’s even possible.

    My main thing before I finally got diagnosed that it was focal seizures and not panic attacks and started medication was jamais vu. I’d get a big Kaboom in my stomach and then I’d feel like my brain went on a commercial break, like I came back from somewhere and I’d get this panicked feeling that I had no clue how I got there. I felt like I was losing my vision and hearing, like consciousness was bleeding away. I’d feel so terrified I thought I’d collapse and had to get out of wherever I was ASAP no matter how humiliating to run out and leave. It would take a while to calm down and I’d have a headache the rest of the day.

    Thank God a neurologist finally diagnosed me and gave me lamotrigine so I can live my life without these things. I still have anxiety and fear about them happening but they haven’t.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Hety Eliot — May 28, 2020 @ 6:51 PM

    • WOW! Jamais vu sounds terrible. To be honest, I’ve never known anyone to have them. But, with your description, it’s quite vivid.

      Good thing you finally got diagnosed and got that monkey off your back, although I can understand the anticipation / fear of them coming back at you.

      I’m also on lamotrigine and it’s been great for me. 99% seizure-free for 10+ years! Hooray!

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 28, 2020 @ 7:19 PM

      • Yeah jamais vu is like the opposite of deja vu–instead of the overwhelming feeling of having been there before, it’s the overwhelming feeling of having no clue where you are or how you got there. At least for me.

        Thanks for the response and I am glad the lamotrigine works so well for you!

        Liked by 2 people

        Comment by Hety Eliot — May 28, 2020 @ 7:35 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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