What's the word for when something happens in life that makes you take a step outside of the normal routine of life and view your self in an existential way.

For example, you witness what the internet calls a "glitch in the matrix" which makes you question reality. Another example would be in the movie: "The Truman Show" when a camera falls out of the sky and he realizes his whole world is a lie.

Example: Ned experienced a moment of _________ making him stop and wonder what the point of all this was.

  • 4
    I might call this an epiphany, but you need to add a sample sentence demonstrating proposed usage. See the SWR tag requirements. Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 15:51
  • english.stackexchange.com/search?q=epiphany
    – Mitch
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 15:51
  • 5
    epiphany is a somewhat loaded term, which in addition to the "theological" overtones, always implies that the person experiencing it gains insight / understanding (about life, the universe, and everything). But my guess is when people come up against something "outside normal experience" that disrupts their normal "sense of self", what they actually experience is what psychologists call cognitive dissonance (they don't gain new understanding; they actually risk losing what understanding they thought they already had). Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 16:47
  • Are you looking for a word for one's internal processes of questioning existing beliefs about the world, or for a word of the external event that caused those thoughts and feelings?
    – Boondoggle
    Commented Jun 30, 2019 at 13:01
  • @Boondoggle An external event that causes an internal existential crisis. Commented Jun 30, 2019 at 14:42

3 Answers 3


I will call this an eye-opener.

Eye-opener (noun): something that surprises you and teaches you new facts about life, people, etc.


More words (synonyms) besides the two suggested: revelation, insight, realization, inspiration, flash, eureka [moment].


Moment of clarity

a time when a person suddenly understands something

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