Prosopagnosia is a condition where the sufferer cannot remember faces,
not even those of their nearest and dearest, due to malfunctioning
of the facial recognition centers in an individual's brain (better
known as face blindness).
Prosopagnosia (better known as face blindness), is a neurological
condition that renders an individual person incapable of recognizing
faces. Prosopagnosia arises when the brain center dedicated to face
recognition (the "fusiform face" area) becomes damaged or is otherwise
unable to perform its function. Although the individual can see the
faces (many have perfect vision), they are unable to attach a name
to them (because facial recognition malfunctions).
Scientists believe this condition is transmitted through family genetics.
It can also result from strokes or brain injuries. Prosopagnosia can
even exist when the area of the brain that recognizes faces is normal.
There are several "Face Perception Tests" to diagnose Prosopagnosia.
Although most people have the experience of failing to recognize someone
they have met at some point, Prosopagnosics usually make that mistake
all the time and with nearly everyone they know. It is the extreme degree
of facial non-recognition that determines Prosopagnosia.
Imagine how hard life is when everyone wears the face of a stranger.
Even worse, imagine losing your closest loved ones amid a sea of faces.
The main symptom of Prosopagnosia is that the instant someone leaves
their sight, the image of that person's face fades from their memory.
Here is how this works:
When the eye first sees an image, it only gathers sensory data (color,
brightness, shape, motion, etc). The brain takes the data and turns
it into information. The brain compares the information it creates,
compares it to what it has experienced before, and draws a conclusion
about it resulting in recognition.
When the brain is analyzing information about a face, it looks inside
its 'archive' of known faces, and tries to find a match. If a match
is made, the brain will bring up other information about the individual
(age, gender, personal facts, etc).
It will be able to filter out
irrelevant, non-matching data (like glasses, cosmetics, aging, etc).
If the brain center that governs facial recognition does not function,
the individual literally cannot recognize the face.
Prosopagnosia sufferers do NOT have a bad memory. They are capable of
remembering things (other than faces) like names, phone numbers, and
non-face images. Neither do they suffer from vision problems. They
can see faces well.
Many can even process information about
a face like gender, ethnicity, and emotions revealed through facial
expressions. They just never know whose face they are looking at,
not even their own. Worse, they will instantly forget the face once
they look away. "It's frightening and confusing," sufferers say.
They also report it causes constant problems in relationships.
Karmically, this is one reason why sufferers come into agreement
with this disease: to develop alternative means of coping in the
world. The other reason is to "knock them down a peg" and break
the patterns of arrogance and superiority they have displayed during
numerous past lives.
Navigating your way through a sea of faces without any landmarks is
a humbling experience... guaranteed to instill a sense of faith and
gratitude in anyone. It also gives the sufferer the chance to
recognize other things about a person and to enter into a greater
awareness of life by forcing them to pay closer attention to it.
Many sufferers compensate by recognizing people in other ways by voice,
by movement, or by mannerisms. Jewelry or accessories that are
frequently worn as well as distinctive hair styles or clothing are
other means of recognizing others. Learning to ask leading questions
to subtly get others to tell you who they are is another useful skill.
Listening as one person identifies another is another solution.
Having supportive people who frequently identify themselves is also
helpful. Plus many face blind people always travel with a companion
who performs the facial recognition for them. The bottom line is where
there is a will to overcome a problem, there is a way to find a solution.
Just ask a Prosopagnosia sufferer they will be happy to tell you all
is included in all of the above descriptions of Prosopagnosia.