Last weekend, I was cruising through the financial blogs and I ran across a post by Lazy Man and Money, where he admitted he had Prosopagnosia. The reason he posted about it was to bring awareness to this unusual condition. I also have Prosopagnosia and I would like to bring awareness to my readers.
What is Prosopagnosia?
Prosopagnosia is a condition which makes it difficult for some people to recognize faces. Facial perception is impaired, but this doesn’t affect their ability to recognize other objects. This condition affects roughly 2.5% of the population.
My experience has been that I don’t have any trouble recognizing people I see a lot or others I am close to. But, people I have met briefly or people who have changed their appearance can present some problems for me. I also have trouble recognizing people who have aged, such as teenagers who have become adults.
What it’s Like
It’s hard to describe this condition to someone who hasn’t experienced it. It’s even harder to describe why it’s a problem. But, when someone walks up to greet you and you can’t recognize them, it’s really embarrassing. Often, it sends me into a panic, because I know this person, but I can’t recognize them. The look on my face is a dead giveaway and they become confused. There is no way to fake it or recover gracefully. They think you have forgotten about them and it makes them feel like you don’t care.
Before I learned about Prosopagnosia earlier this year, I thought I was losing my mind. I thought I may have early indicators of dementia or some other form of degenerative mental problem. Then, I remembered that I had this problem back in school as a child. I remembered not recognizing a girl I had dated, after she changed her hair style. And, she wasn’t too happy about it. Unfortunately, it was just the beginning of my problems and it continues to haunt me to this day.
Why I’m Telling You
This is only the third time I have told anyone about my condition. In fact, my immediately family doesn’t even know, including my wife and Mom. Only two people know and that’s because I couldn’t recognize them and I had to explain why. When I told them I had Prosopagnosia they seemed pretty doubtful it was really a condition. I even emailed my co-worker a link so she would understand Prosopagnosia and why I couldn’t recognize her.
Now that I understand my condition and am no longer embarrassed about it, I feel it’s time to bring it out in the open. There are two reasons I want to share my experience. First, I want to create awareness, in case you know someone who has it. Second, I want to enlighten others who may have Prosopagnosia and not know about it. Not knowing what was happening to me was the worst part. I would love to save someone else the fear and embarrassment.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that you can’t hide from problems in your life; you have to face them head on. The first step in facing a problem is understanding what it is. Once you know the cause, you are half way to solving the problem.
“I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll make an exception.”
Groucho Marx – American Actor and Comedian