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Prosopagnosia- A Condition Due to Which People Can Not Recognise Faces, Doctor Speaks
Recently Hollywood superstar Brad Pitt and Bollywood actor turned travel vlogger Shenaz Treasury revealed that they are diagnosed with Prosopagnosia. Dr Kaustubh Mahajan explains the condition.
Next time someone passes you without showing any recognition, need not be that the person is being rude, it could also mean that the individual is suffering from face blindness or prosopagnosia. The Hollywood actor, Brad Pitt recently mentioned having a similar experience wherein his ability to not recognize people, led to a negative impression. Not just Brad, Bollywood actor turned travel vlogger Shenaz Treasury also revealed that she is suffering from the same disorder.
What is Prosopaganosia?
Dr Kaustubh Mahajan, Consultant Neurologist, SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim – A Fortis Associate says that Prosopagnosia is a disorder in which one is not able to identify a person. They are unaware or do not have the ability to remember or recollect known faces and hence their brain is indifferent towards the ones they know. Some may even not be able to recognize their own face. While this may sound bizarre, the condition is not rare and affects *two per cent of people. Also, it is known that *one in 50 people suffer from some level of prosopagnosia.
Prosopagnosia is caused due to a block in the brain or due to injury that caused damage or even because of abnormalities. In this disorder, a part of the temporal lobe is affected, and this part of the brain is used for facial memory and perception. This condition is not caused by memory loss, vision loss or any other disability.
While the common symptom of prosopagnosia is – the unable to recognize known faces, there are different levels at which the person’s ability to identify people might differ.
Someone who is affected with minor face blindness might find it difficult to identify or even differentiate between faces they know against the ones they have never seen, from strangers. Individuals with moderate to severe prosopagnosia may not recognize the faces of their family members, co-workers, neighbours etc., faces they see regularly.
- When you see or meet someone, you try to remember their distinctive feature rather than the face
- You wait for a person to wave or greet first, even if you have plans of meeting them as you are not able to put a face to the name
- Approach strangers thinking you know them
- One can become withdrawn in public places
- Not able to enjoy a movie or show as unable to follow the plot of characters
- Find it difficult to make friends
- Feel withdrawn at work, school, college etc. but confident at home
While there is no specific treatment or cure for prosopagnosia, if an individual has a clot in the brain or an injury, that can be reversed, then there are chances that the person will not have the condition. However, for others, there are some training programs that can help one recognize faces, like remembering their voice, a specific feature of their face, a tattoo on their body etc.
Also, due to the condition, there likely is an impact on personal relationships and thus it affects the patient’s mental health. They hence tend to suffer from depression, anxiety etc. and therefore they are given the needed counselling and support.
As this condition might occur due to an injury or health issues, there is no prevention. However, one can immediately seek medical help and opt for the necessary techniques needed both that would identify people and help improve their mental health.
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