From the Daily Mail, January 8, 2008
We’ve all experienced those embarrassing moments when someone we meet seems to know us, yet we just can’t place their face.
But for some, an inability to recognise faces is more than fleeting forgetfulness.
They suffer from a complex brain condition – prosopagnosia – which makes it almost impossible for them to tell faces apart, even those of close family and friends.
The condition, also known as face blindness, is extremely common – as many as one in 50 people suffer from it, according to research from University College London and Harvard University.
This means there are 1.5 million Britons with the condition.
Unfortunately many sufferers are unaware they have the condition; as a result they suffer not only embarrassment, but may become increasingly socially isolated, simply because they cannot recognise their peers.
Relationships can be hard to build. Meanwhile, even mundane activities such as watching television become impossible since they cannot keep track of characters.
“Face blindness can be socially crippling since sufferers find it difficult to connect with others and build relationships,” explains Dr Brad Duchaine, a neuroscientist based at University College London and a world authority on the condition.
In cases of very young sufferers it can even lead to misdiagnosis of autism or Asperger’s syndrome, since the face blindness can cause them to become insular and shun social interaction as a way of coping with the confusion of being unable to recognise people they should.
“I only got by socially because my two best friends at school had a distinctive appearance: one was very ginger and the other very small,” says Wendy Holt, 41, a business services manager from Gloucestershire.
“Fortunately I’m a friendly person and made sure I got on with everyone. But in terms of real friends I only had these two, and without them school would have been a really lonely experience”.
Entire article is here.