Saturday, July 12, 2008

Blind to your face..


If I know you, and one day I walk past you on the street unexpectedly, there is a very high chance I am going to come off as a Grade-A bitch, totally ignoring your, or else staring at you like I have no idea who this freak is, coming up to me like they've known me for years. Not because I *am* a Grade-A bitch (I hope!), but because I am face blind. Mildly, anyway. I am not a hopeless case; I just have an incredibly poor memory for faces. AKA, I have Prosopagnosia. I am pretty sure I have the genetic kind, because I am firmly in denial that I am brain damaged. :p Also, because my sister has it, a little worse than me. And I have my suspicions about ds, too. Poor kid.



I never realized not everyone was like this; I thought it was NORMAL to not know who someone was if they weren't in their normal setting, their normal context! How odd. Anyway, like I said, I have a MILD case...I can recognize most people I know, most of the time. If I know them. If I see you every week at the supermarket, and then I see you two towns away, in someone's house, I MIGHT think you look familiar, but I probably will never place why..unless you triggered one of my coping mechanisms, and said something that I could place...or if you are very distinctive in some way...or if your voice has a pattern I can place. If I *know* you, I probably won't do that..usually (Note to NS: It had been a whole week since we had moved out of the house! I PROMISE I recognized you...2 seconds later!!! lol)



I am not bad with famous people, either...I can recognize the really famous, most of the time, if the picture isn't really weird, and I can recognize others, if there is something I can latch onto. Otherwise, IMDB is my FRIEND! :P



I get by by recognizing speech patterns and voice tones; overall facial structure and body build; walking patterns; settings; and then if I am actually talking to you, and I STILL haven't figured it out, I can listen for cue words, that will clue me in. I am not completely nonfunctional, though..some people are completely, totally faceblind. I am thinking it's like the difference between being nearsighted without glasses, and totally stone blind. I am the former, obviously. And then there are the ones who rely on others to tell them who their wife and kids are. And for the record...face blindness is NOT real blindness...we can see perfectly fine!!! We just don't retain any record of what we are seeing! Okay, *I* do, mostly, but total faceblind people don't. And I am really good at reading expressions, and seeing *other* details, to remember. Oh...and I didn't realize til yesterday that not everyone thinks all dogs, or all cats, etc, look alike. :p Apparently that's a symptom, too, lol. (I think my inability to remember the way to get somewhere, no matter how many times I've been there, if I was NOT the driver, has something to do with it, too...drives my dh freaking NUTS, lol!)



Anyway. There you have it. Totally random, useless trivia about me. I figure, it's a rare enough, unheard of condition, that you might still be interested, right? Right? :D Maybe next time I will get into my synesthesia (what...doesn't EVERYONE think in colors??? :P )

Credits:
1. Blood and Ink
2. Andrea Shishmanian
3 and 4. Magnolia Forever
5. CDT Images

14 comments:

Hoppo Bumpo said...

I wonder if we all suffer this to some degree? I know that I'm often thrown by seeing someone completely out of context. I think the worst case was unexpectedly bumping into my mum whilst shopping and thinking there was something a bit familiar about her ....

Lilli said...

Very interesting! I never heard of this, although I have heard that generally men aren't as good at recognizing faces as women are. And this can be genetic? Amazing. It never occurred to me that there's a specific part of the brain whose job is to recognize faces.....and the difference between different dogs and cats.....and remembering which way to go to the next town.....

Well, they say that if you're weak in one area, you have to be stronger in another area. Those 'other' cues you say you pick up on, maybe? Maybe you're stronger at voice recognition than most people?

I look forward to your next post about color-thinking :)

Liz said...

Interesting... I've never hear about that. How did you discover that you had this "issue?" I've always been better with voices. Often I'll close my eyes when I hear a familiar voice and that helps me place it.

flossy-p said...

Hey, I just watched a documentary on ABC about face recognition blindness in the last week or so. It's very interesting! Great art, it says it all!

mamajil said...

Very interesting. I can usually recognize a face but I can never remember a name....it gets kinda embarrassing!! Or worse I get it in my head that a persons name is one thing and its totally not... then when I see them I am trying to remember which is the name I think is theirs and which is their real name.....hmmm what kinda of disorder causes that??? lol

onesilentwinter said...

great post! I am not good with name sat all- not one bit- but i never forget a face or what you were wearing that day!!!

corine @ Hidden In France said...

How strange.

I have the oposite problem but don't know the name for it is. When I meet someone new, like at a party, I spend half the time oogling them, sure that I know them from somewhere, and the other half grilling them excitedly as to where our paths may have crossed. They usually patiently deny it.

The name for my condition might be 'clueless', or 'annoying'.

Patty said...

I've never heard of this before. Very interesting. Do your kids have it too?

Tonya said...

I have never heard of this! How fascinating! Well, i guess not so much for you. I usually recognize faces, just have a horrible time putting names with them. I say "Hey, girl" a lot lol

Sasparilla Sue said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sasparilla Sue said...

Sorry, some wierd computer thing happened when I posted my comment so I deleted it, hopefully it'll come out right this time...

I hadn't heard of face blindness either but it's an interesting syndrome, ailment, malady (whatever they call it).
Synesthesia is utterly and completely fascinating to me. My mom insists I have some mild form of it because I relate everything to shapes (yes, some sounds are round). But I don't think so. I think thinking in colors would be awesome! I once heard about a guy in the UK, a bartender, who tastes something different with every word or maybe it was every name he hears (I can't quite remember), and not all the tastes were something good.

jellybelly*jellybrain said...

What an interesting post - thanks for sharing.

I have a form of synesthesia. I see words, numbers, weeks, months, time, years in patterns and always thought everybody did this. I have a "pattern-map" for most things.

I watched a really interesting programme once about synesthesia and it had a man who had a taste for words. He thought a certain word tasted like ear-wax!! Bleuch!
It's also linked to genius and savants so it's not all bad!

jellybelly*jellybrain said...

PS - I am referring to the same guy in sasparilla sue's comment.

Just remembered, my brother has colours for numbers and from a few things he's said, I think my 5 year old may have it too.

Clarity said...

That is fascinating. I think you're blessed to have it mildly and talking about it helps people understand. I have the opposite where a friend could yell my name 5 feet from me in the street and I blank them because of my "tunnel" hearing or focusing on something else. Do post about the colour sometime: It's not wierd, when I was little I attributed personalities to the numbers 1 - 10. 1 was cool and singular (!) two was kind and stable, 3 was fat and a little greedy, 4 was stable and dull.. :) Hmm, I think I'll stop before I regress.

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