The mind is like an iceberg, it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water. ~ Sigmund Freud
Thus spake the Big Daddy of psychoanalysis! Even this great mind that laid the foundations of clinical psychology as we know it today couldn't fathom what lay in those deeper, darker recesses of the human psyche. It is in those dark, unfathomable recesses of the mind that the answers to a lot of extraordinary psychic phenomena lie, locked away in some obscure corner. That makes me wonder - are all those extraordinary, paranormal phenomena that we hear about from time to time of a spiritual nature or is it just that the obscure psychic aspects in some people just get unlocked and happen to rise to the surface of that bottomless psychic pit? Well, call it a foreboding, but I have a feeling that despite the phenomenal advancement of science and technology, we would still have to wait for about a century or so in order to completely unlock the mysteries of the human psyche.
Anyway, let's come to the point now. The subject we are here to discuss today is that of precognition and déjà vu. In both cases, there is a lingering feeling of familiarity with something that is either yet to pass or which has not been experienced before. In the absence of a clear understanding of how things work and owing to a lack of absolute evidence of their manifestations, both déjà vu and precognition are included within the ambit of parapsychology. Often used interchangeably (which is an incorrect practice), these two terms have meanings that are very different from one another. Let's understand what kind of psychic phenomenon each term denotes in order to understand in what ways they differ.
Is Precognition the Same as Deja Vu?
NO! While it is easy to confuse one with the other owing to the somewhat similar premises they deal with, precognition and déjà vu are, in no way, similar to each other. Let's take a look at both phenomena individually and get a clear, complete understanding of what each deals with. Only that will enable the light of unadulterated understanding shine bright upon you.
Let's try understanding the meaning of this word by dissecting the literal implications of this word itself. Split the word into two and you'll get pre and cognition. Pre attaches the essence of something previous or prior to any word which starts with this prefix. Take, for instance, prehistoric (before history), presumption (concluding from assumptions derived from previous experience), prenuptial (before marriage), etc. Now, coming to the second part, cognition means awareness. Now, when both parts are put together, precognition literally means previous awareness. In that essence, a precognition is a definite foreboding or an awareness of something that is yet to pass.
Therefore, a precognition is an insight into the future. In para-psychological sense, precognition refers to the phenomenon of being able to see or sense the future or become familiar with something that has not come to pass yet but will take place in the future. In other words, precognition is knowing something beforehand and such knowledge is not based upon rational deductions of a logical analysis. For instance, if I eat a pound of butter all by myself, I would know for a fact that I'll upset my stomach. This knowledge comes from either previous experience or from awareness of facts pertaining to established premises. However, if I happen to dream of an old friend with whom I've been out of contact for years and the next morning I find him standing at my doorstep, without any intimation from his side that he would come visiting, that would qualify as precognition!
Ever gone vacationing to some exotic destination for the first time but felt a wave of familiarity wash over you the second you got off the plane? Well, that's déjà vu for you. Deja vu is a French term which, when translated to English, literally means already seen. Deja vu is when you meet a random person for the first time and you get an uneasy feeling that you have seen that person before but can't remember when, where or who that person is. Deja vu also happens when, at times, you experience a certain situation for the first time or in a new surrounding and, suddenly, you get this feeling that all this has happened before in the exact way! In that essence, déjà vu is an uneasy, mostly vague feeling that a particular incident that you experienced in the present has happened in the exact way in the past. Unlike precognition, déjà vu has noting to do with visions of the future.
Now that the exact implications of both terms are clear, it is really easy to see the difference. While precognition is about seeing future occurrences in the present, déjà vu is all about the present situation giving you an impression that it has occurred sometime in the past, though the impressions are not very clear. Both phenomena are triggered in the present but while one pertains to the future state of matters, the other is concerned with a nagging feeling of the present state of matters having taken place in the past giving your mind a nasty itch. That just makes me want to share something interesting with all you ladies out there - the next time a random guy approaches you from across the bar and gives you the 'I've always known we'd meet someday' or 'Have we met before?' lines, know them to be just what they are - two of the most clichéd pick up lines ever and not precognition or déjà vu on their part!