Saturday, September 13, 2008

Deja vu or Deja Genes

Déjà vu or Deja Genes

By Janice Scott-Reeder, AA, BA

In advanced psychology we learn many possible reasons for the feeling of Déjà vu or that feeling that you have been here before. Perhaps the most plausible has to do with the way we store memories. We have what is called long term and short term memory. Most everything we encounter goes into short term memory and if the event is memorable, it transfers after a period of time to long term memory. This gives us the ability to know if we just saw something or if it is way back in time. So the Déjà vu theory goes, that there is short circuit in the memory and something that you just saw that should have gone into short term memory gets inserted into long term memory. Thus, the second registering of the event, which occurs milliseconds later, says hey, I remember this from a while ago even though it happened less than a second ago. In layman’s terms, we call it a brain fart.
Another theory is that since memories are also stored in a sensory manner as not only pictures, but smells, feelings and sounds, if enough of the sensory cues match, you think you have the same place.
However, based on a personal experience I would like to offer another theory: genetic memory and I am going to tell you right now, that it is a highly disputed topic.
Since I can remember, I have had the same dream pop up. I would be in a strange (to me) city. The houses would all be close together, with little postage stamp sized yards. This yard is enclosed in a white stone-like fence about one- two feet, with black wrought iron work (about 2-3 feet of it) on top. You enter the gate and walk up stairs to get to the front door. The door seems very small and low. The houses are across the street from a park. I have long curling black hair, a head band on, and I wearing a full skirt. My skin is darker and I am hoping that working in the night hours, no one will notice how different I am from them. In the park, there is a small flea market and I work there with my husband selling small trinkets.
I had never seen any place that resembles this location and I have traveled very extensively in the USA and abroad, until one afternoon I was watching a documentary on health care in the Netherlands. Wow, there was the street and the houses because as you may know in foreign documentaries, they have to walk you down the street, up to the house and then in, before you get the interview. I noticed the interviewer had to bend down to go through the doors and they brought up a sub-note that due to better nutrition it was getting hard for the people to get into the houses because all the door jams were too low.
Wow! Here is the location for my dream but, I have no Dutch in my background. All I’ve seen of the Netherlands is the same thing you have: tulips and windmills. How did this city get into my dreams? That answer arrived with a trial membership in one of genealogy sites. I discovered that my very English last name of Cutler was very Dutch. They had changed it upon arriving in the states and not due to someone in Ellis Island. They did it themselves. Well, the Dutch keep excellent records and I was able to continue back in my history to discover my Dutch relative had the improbable ability to produce 6 sets of twins and then two single children. Even I know that is pretty statistically impossible and I’m guessing a little painful. So I researched the twins and discovered one would have a Dutch name and the other one had a name that sounded really Spanish. So I pushed the records a little farther and discovered the family name really was Cortez and they changed it to a Dutch surname upon arriving in the Netherlands and changed the 6 kids’ first names. The other two were born in the Netherlands. I don’t know what they were running from, but they left the Netherlands as soon as they could and headed for the New World.
Then the dream of having dark, curly hair and dark skin made since. Here she was in the Netherlands, of pure Spanish descent, trying to blend in. I am certain that had I traveled to the Netherlands and wound up on that street I would have had a really heavy sense of Déjà vu, but it would have been a genetic memory not a brain fart.

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