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'Groundhog Day' Man Was Stuck In Deja Vu Time Loop For Eight Years

Jake Massey

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'Groundhog Day' Man Was Stuck In Deja Vu Time Loop For Eight Years

A man who experienced constant déjà vu felt like he was 'trapped in a time loop' for eight years.

For most of us, the sensation of déjà vu - which means 'already seen', en français - is rare and fleeting. Many of us enjoy it, in a weird kind of way.

But when every waking day feels like it has been lived before, it soon starts to grate. This nightmarish notion was popularised by the classic 1993 Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day, but was experienced for real by a young British man.

Hold on, didn't you just see this picture? Credit: Columbia Pictures
Hold on, didn't you just see this picture? Credit: Columbia Pictures

The poor guy's rare ordeal began way back in 2007 and progressively got worse. By 2010, it was so bad that he stopped watching television, listening to the radio, or reading papers because he felt he had already encountered all of the content before.

The man was studied by a group of scientists from the UK, France and Canada, and they hypothesised in their case report - which was published in 2014 - that anxiety may have been central to his symptoms.

Dr Chris Moulin, a cognitive neuropsychologist at the University of Bourgogne who worked on the study, told the BBC: "This man was striking because he was young, otherwise aware, but completely traumatised by this constant sensation that his mind was playing tricks.

"There was one instance where he went to get a haircut. As he walked in, he got a feeling of déjà vu. Then he had déjà vu of the déjà vu. He couldn't think of anything else."

Brain scans on the man - who was 23 at the time of the study - appeared normal, suggesting a psychological rather than a neurological cause; and while the study did not prove anything definitively, the researchers surmised that his experiences may have been linked to his mental health conditions.

The man felt 'trapped in a time loop'. Credit: Storyblocks
The man felt 'trapped in a time loop'. Credit: Storyblocks

The scientists wrote: "There is little scientific literature on any relationship between clinical levels of anxiety and déjà vu. Our case experienced high levels of anxiety and derealisation, and had a family history of OCD.

"There is no clear evidence in support of a neurological basis for his déjà vu, although we acknowledge that it is difficult to exclude this possibility absolutely and therefore do so with caution."

They continued: "In relation to our case, distress caused by the déjà vu experience may itself lead to increased levels of déjà vu: similar feedback loops in positive symptoms are reported in other anxiety states.

"It is plausible on neurobiological grounds that anxiety might lead to the generation of déjà vu. The hippocampal formation, a structure of central importance in declarative memory and the ability to engage in recollection, is also implicated in anxiety as part of the septo-hippocampal system."

You can find out more about what exactly déjà vu is here.

Featured Image Credit: Columbia Pictures

Topics: Interesting, Community, Health

Jake Massey
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