25 June 2010


Marie D Jones and Larry Flaxman. The Deja-Vu Enigma: A Journey Through the Anomalies of Mind, Memory and Time. New Page Books, 2010.

If you start reading this review and suddenly think that you have read it all before, then you are having an experience of deja-vu. If you start reading this review and suddenly think that you have read it all before, then you are having an experience of deja-vu
This the eerie sense of having seen, experienced or encountered a scene or experience before, or where strange places never before visited look or feel unaccountably familiar. 

This experience is beginning to gain the attention of psychologists and neurologists and some of their findings are presented in the early part of the book. Suffice it to say that there is no agreement, with a variety of neurological and psychological explanations being given. It is also clear that these experiences are not all the same, and the general deja-vu experience has been divided into a number of components.

The lack of obvious explanations for deja-vu has led to searches for paranormal ones, and these have included reincarnation and precognition, and now it looks as though parallel worlds is the paranormal explanation of choice.

Obviously the only way one could decide whether there was any need to entertain such radical ideas, would be if deja-vu experiences could be shown to anything more than subjective experiences. While it is sometimes claimed that people knew what they were going to encounter next and so on, these are always reported after the fact (often years later) and may themselves be artifacts of memory.

These themes are not gone into much here, for about a third of the way through the book the authors seem to have realised that they are not going to have enough material to fill a book, and then start wandering off into all sorts of side topics, ranging from a general account of memory and its pathologies (which at least had relevance), to rambling discussions of the paranormal, including a section on spells, and several pages devoted to a variety of paranormalists' opinions on ghosts. Needless to say skeptics do not get a word in edgewise.

I have to say that this reads less like a properly crafted book, and more like snippets of information and opinion cut and pasted together. -- Peter Rogerson.

1 comment:

Marie D. Jones said...

Hi, Peter. Thank you for the review. I just wanted to mention to anyone reading this that the book is not just about deja vu, and that is made clear in the title. It's about the anomalies of mind, memory and time, deja vu being one of them. Thus the move from that topic to others involving the human mind. Thank you.