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Pickford, R.W. (1944). Déjà Vu in Proust and Tolstoy. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 25:155-165.

(1944). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 25:155-165

Déjà Vu in Proust and Tolstoy

R. W. Pickford


Experiences of déjà vu, as the writer has already argued (1)(2)(3), following MacCurdy's theory based on psycho-analytical principles (4)(5), appear to be due to infantile or very early memories or impulses of special emotional importance, which have broken through the surface of consciousness and caused what may be described figuratively as ripples there, like the ripples caused by a bubble rising through the surface of a still pond.

Special circumstances on the objective side have given these memories the opportunity to break through, and such circumstances may be viewed as 'stimuli', or as the objective situation, which has the power, through similarity to events of the past or through other forms of the well-known laws of mental association, to excite certain memories normally inaccessible to conscious attention. The memories, when excited, are of a disturbing kind, and must be dealt with by the familiar conscious mechanisms, chiefly rationalization, which render innocuous any repressed emotions, impulses or thoughts of infancy which happen to be able to break into consciousness and which might be dangerous to the normal adult mental balance. As fast as they are rationalized, the memories or impulses are woven into the ordinary web and woof of conscious life and are able to pass as it were unnoticed. MacCurdy has pointed out that it is a peculiarity of déjà vu, among the many forms taken in rational consciousness by revived unconscious memories, that it involves a strange feeling of perplexity, a remainder, as it were, left over by the rationalization, which the ego must deal with as well as it can.

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