Bill Murray's classic Groundhog Day may turn out to be an entertaining romp through stuck-in-time paranoid, but the real life case is significantly more terrifying.
While the feeling of permanent déjà vu drove Phil (Murray's character) to repeated suicide attempts, the unnamed British man who is suffering from those real-life symptoms has sought treatment. However, according to The Telegraph, doctors are baffled as to why the man feels "trapped in a time loop," and because the case is the first of its kind, it doesn't seem like there is any tangible help in sight. For now, the 23-year-old is stuck with prolonged nightmarish episodes of feeling like he's experienced his life before.
To make matters worse, doctors cannot find a connection between his neurological conditions and the symptoms that are typically experienced by people with chronic déjà vu. Typically, persistent episodes of déjà vu affect those who suffer a trauma to the brain's temporal lobe, but this man has experienced nothing of the sort, as proven by his brain scans. He also underwent psychological memory tests that didn't elicit any promising results.
So, essentially, doctors don't know WHY exactly this is happening to him, even though this has been happening since 2007. Dr. Christine Wells, who authored the report, believes it could be "the first case of a person experiencing persistent déjà vu stemming from anxiety." The most accepted theory right now is that the patient's anxiety is causing a feedback loop, the brain's misfiring causing new events to be classified as memories, which in turn causes more anxiety.
Considering that nearly every human being has experienced both anxiety and déjà vu, the prospect that one can lead to the other is downright horrifying. Imagine waking up one day, feeling particularly stressed out about the week ahead, and then quickly realizing that YOU HAVE LIVED THIS ALL BEFORE. You've already DEALT with this stress, and now it's right back in your head and surroundings. It's a like a prison of paranoia.
Scariest part about the entire situation is the fact that NOBODY knows for sure what causes déjà vu, so how can they be any closer to putting a stop to it when it occurs again and again and again for this guy?
At this point many of you are probably thinking, "So how did we KNOW that he is feeling persistent déjà vu if there's no physical evidence? Couldn't he just be a big faker?" Well, that's always a possibility, and many are quick to point out that this could just be a misnamed byproduct of his panic attacks or past LSD use.
BUT, this man has pretty much put his entire life on hold. He doesn't read newspapers, listen to the radio, or even watch TV because the feeling of déjà vu is so debilitating. He continually feels like he remembers everything that happened to the point where he doesn't want to experience anything at all. That is true terror to me and proof enough that this needs to be studied.
Let's hope that this young guy manages to escape his personal hell like Phil does in Groundhog Day, but at this point, there are no concrete answers. We'll just have to live in a world where your worries can lead to a life of torment, where all the things you used to love become things you want to avoid.