This post is bit inspired by last week's post on Capgras Delusion.
Prosopagnosia ("prosopon" [Greek] = face; "agnosia" = inability to recognize) is a disorder whereby people cannot recognize faces. It's also called face blindness. A person with this disorder may have a two hour, face-to-face conversation with a person, and then then next day pass them in the hallway and have no idea who they are.
It can occur following brain damage, but there is also an inherited version that occurs in a staggering 2.5 % of the population.
People with prosopagnosia must learn techniques to recognize faces, such as individual feature recognition, clothing clues, and other things to get by.
Some of the more famous sufferers include:
Chuck Close, a favorite artist of mine
Oliver Sacks, writer/neurologist
Tom Stoppard, British playwright
Jane Goodall, British primatologist/anthropologist
A bunch of great stuff is out there tackling this issue:
- You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know, a memoir by Heather Sellers
- Oliver Sacks wrote a New Yorker article discussing his disability.
- He also discussed a case of proposagnosia in The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat
- Here's a fantastic and funny Radiolab podcast starring Oliver Sacks and Chuck Close entitled "Strangers in the Mirror"
I'm happy to admit that I don't have prosopagnosia. I'm good with faces, but I'm terrible with names. *Sighs*
I've heard there are more books out on this subject in fiction and literature, so if you've heard of them, please share!