In a recent interview with GQ magazine, actor Brad Pitt said he thought he had prosopagnosia, also known as “face blindness” or “facial agnosia.”
Although he has not been officially diagnosed, he explained that he has trouble remembering new people or recognizing their faces.
He fears this has led people to think he is distant, unapproachable and self-centered. “Nobody believes me,” he said.
Prosopagnosia is a neurological disorder characterized by the inability to recognize faces, says the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) American. Depending on the degree of the deficit, some people may have difficulty recognizing familiar faces while others are unable to distinguish unfamiliar faces. Some people with this disorder are unable to recognize their own face.
Prosopagnosia is not related to memory dysfunction, memory loss, visual impairment, or learning difficulties.
It is thought to be the result of abnormalities, damage or deficiencies in the right fusiform gyrus, a brain fold that appears to coordinate the neural systems that control the perception and memory of faces. It can result from a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or certain neurodegenerative diseases. In some cases, it is a congenital disorder, present at birth in the absence of any brain damage.
Congenital prosopagnosia appears to be hereditary and result from a genetic alteration. Some degree of prosopagnosia is often present in children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome, says the NINDS, and may contribute to their impaired social development.
It is estimated that one in 50 people may experience face recognition difficulties severe enough in their lifetime to interfere with their daily lives, according to an article published in Current Biology in 2016.
The famous British neurologist and author Oliver Sacks also suffered from prosopagnosia and helped to raise awareness of the disorder. He spoke about it with CNN in 2011, the site reports. Healthline.
To highlight his inability to recognize faces, he was shown a photo of Elvis Presley which he was unable to identify. “I don’t know who it is,” he said, and said that when he looks in the mirror, he sometimes doesn’t recognize himself. He suffered from this disorder all his life. His brother also had it.
The goal of treatment is to help the person develop compensatory strategies.
Another specific face perception disorder is prosopometamorphopsia in which faces appear distorted.
For more information, see the links below.
Pictured: Brad Pitt at the premiere of “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood“, Glenn Francis. Wikipedia.
Psychomedia with sources: GQ, NINDS, Current Biology, Healthline.
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