Wouldn’t it be miserable to relive the same experiences over and over again?
Popular movies like Groundhog Day have explored this memory phenomenon, but in a new case report, this was the reality for one man.
Researchers found that he had a rare condition that caused him to think he was experiencing the same shows, movies, and books repeatedly.
The unnamed man, who was in his 80s, believed that his eBook reader was malfunctioning and giving him the same pages to read over and over again.
When he contacted the manufacturer, he was assured that everything was working normally, according to the report in the journal BMJ Case Reports.
A retired man in his 80s thought his Kindle was malfunctioning and giving him the same pages to read over and over again. He was actually suffering from déjà vécu, the persistent false feeling that events are happening repeatedly
MRI scans of the patient’s brain showed signs of Alzheimer’s disease
He also asked a technician to fix his television because he thought it was playing the same news repeatedly.
‘Every day is a repeat of the day before…Every [television] session is identical,’ the patient said.
‘Wherever I go, the same people are on the side of the road, the same cars behind me with the same people in them…the same person gets out of the cars wearing the same clothes, carrying the same bags, saying the same things.’
‘Nothing is new.’
His family could not convince him that these were misperceptions.
The researchers described the phenomenon as déjà vécu. Unlike the better known déjà vu, or feeling like something you are currently experiencing has already happened, déjà vécu is a persistent false feeling that events are happening over and over again.
The patient had difficulties with memory and had a tendency to conflate two stories into one. The team performed cognitive tests and scans of his brain and also found signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a group of diseases that mark progressive and permanent cognitive decline.
The disease typically develops later in life, with 73 percent of patients diagnosed after age 75.
The researchers stated that déjà vécu was first described in 1896 as ‘a pathological form of déjà vu.’
Though the condition is considered rare, researchers said that it has been seen in a handful of patients with Alzheimer’s.
A similar case report from 2021 described déjà vécu in an 84-year-old woman in Amsterdam, though those researchers ruled out dementia. The woman believed that TV shows and live sporting events were replays, and she would approach random people in public because she thought they were acquaintances.
The patient showed no signs of improvement after treatment.
‘Contrary to Groundhog Day though, déjà vécu does not tend to have a happy ending,’ researchers in the woman’s case wrote.
In the case of the unnamed man, doctors attempted to treat him with a course of immunotherapy, which is typically used in cancer cases to destroy malignant cells. The patient’s condition did not improve, and he continued showing signs of Alzheimer’s for four years.
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