Can’t put a name to the face? You’re not alone.
If you struggle to recognize familiar faces or even TV characters, you may have a rare neurological condition called prosopagnosia, or face blindness. Brad Pitt, a famous actor, revealed this past summer that he suffers from the condition. He’s not alone, a study found that approximately 1 in 50 people have face blindness.
The permanent condition not only impacts your ability to recognize the faces of family, friends and coworkers but even your ability to recognize that it’s a face you are looking at after all.
Dr. Timothy Mikesell, a neurologist at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., says, “Face blindness is a form of agnosia which is your inability to visually recognize things accurately.”
The disorder can be caused by a structural lesion or a neurodegenerative disease.
“Where we typically see face blindness more times than not is with people with strokes or tumors,” says Dr. Mikesell. “It’s usually in the non-dominant hemisphere, so for most people the right hemisphere of the brain.”
There are two categorizations of prosopagnosia, or face blindness:
Acquired prosopagnosia – The disorder is developed after you are born usually as the result of a traumatic brain injury, seizure, stroke or dementia.
Congenital prosopagnosia – The disorder is present at birth and impacts the person for the rest of their life.
Brad Pitt is not the only big name to discover they have face blindness. Famous neurologist Oliver Sacks also had the condition. In a book he authored, he recounted not only his experience with face blindness but also a story of a patient with the condition who mistakenly took their wife’s head for a hat.
Although there is not a treatment for face blindness, you should still seek help. “If you have trouble recognizing faces, you should see a doctor because it could be an underlying condition,” says Dr. Mikesell.
Want to learn more about your risk for stroke? Take a free online quiz here.
About the Author
Anna Kohler, health enews contributor, is a public affairs specialist for Advocate Aurora Health. She received her bachelor of science in public relations from Illinois State University and has worked in healthcare public relations for over three years. In her free time, she enjoys working out, exploring new places with her friends and family and keeping up with the latest trends.