Have you ever interacted with someone you swear you’ve met before but they can’t seem to remember? It feels disrespectful, makes you feel slighted, as if they are perhaps too cool for you.
Before you get offended, consider that 1 in 50 people have a medical condition called prosopagnosia—face blindness. And Brad Pitt believes himself to be among those affected.
The Once Upon a Time in Hollywood star opened up to GQ about his struggle to remember faces and how he’s often seen as aloof or self-absorbed. The reality is he just can’t remember. “Nobody believes me!,” Pitt told GQ.
What Is Prosopagnosia?
Prosopagnosia, more commonly known as face blindness, is a neurological disorder where someone is unable to recognize faces.
Face blindness often starts at birth and follows a person throughout their life, severely impacting their everyday routine, according to the UK’s National Health Service.
While the condition can be embarrassing and make those suffering feel isolated, those with severe cases can mistake strangers for those they know and may fail to recognize family, friends, and even themselves, says The Harvard Gazette.
Ways To Cope With Face Blindness
While there is no cure for prosopagnosia, treatment centers around coping mechanisms to better identify and recognize faces. Strategies include noticing hairstyles or types of clothing, for example. But for those in unfamiliar situations, these superficial cues may not be enough.
However, studies show promising advances in those suffering from face blindness. In one case study, 24 people learned how to identify and discriminate facial features, like the distance between eyes, eyebrows, and even the nose to the mouth. Another study of 10 subjects was able to refine their perception of facial shape with promising results that showed a 10 percent increase when recognizing new faces (1).
It’s hard to remember everyone we come across. But for those with face blindness, it can be extremely debilitating. For the rest of us, it’s important to remember that a little compassion goes a long way.