Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Faceblindness: Never remember a familiar face

Filed under: ,

It's happened to most of us: You see someone familiar in a setting where you don't expect them -- maybe your pharmacist at a restaurant or a co-worker's husband at the grocery store -- and it takes you a second to place them. Sometimes, this can lead to awkward situations when you can't figure out how you know them and you fumble a little until you finally figure it out or admit that you're at a loss. Now, imagine this happening every day, even with the people who are closest to you.

It's called prosopagnosia, or faceblindness and it affects about 2% of the population. Those who suffer from it don't recall facial features as easily as the rest of us and have difficulty recognizing a familiar person. The condition can be mild -- occasionally not recognizing people -- or can be severe enough that sufferers may take years to learn the faces of their own family members.

Coping skills include learning to recognize voices, hair color, glasses, or other unique non-facial features and having family and friends help them out when necessary. Obviously, it's a condition that can lead to some interesting social scenarios, so I think that being open and honest about the condition probably is a priority as well.

No comments: