Monday, 22 October 2012

An embarrassing condition

No. Not that kind. A different kind altogether.

I've had it for years, but until recently, didn't know it had a name. But now I know. I have Face Blindness. I know i have this because i recently did a little test in the Times, and failed (or passed. Depends how you look on it). I don't always recognise people, or I bound up to people I don't know and greet them like long lost friends. I often have no idea who's who in films and on TV, and drive any companion mad by constantly asking "is that the baddie or the goodie?", "is that the guy who married that girl or is it the other guy?". That kind of thing.

One of my sons, B* (hallo, B!) has the same thing, which is comforting in a way, but I also feel responsible, as he probably gets it from me (he got very little else from me, as he is a clone of his father. So maybe it's quite nice really? No. Not nice. A bloody nuisance, if I'm honest).

I would love it if all the characters in films wore name badges, or different coloured hats/hair, or at least wore identifying clothing, but that's never going to happen. So I shall continue embracing total strangers, amd ignoring friends. And if you're either, please don't take offence.

I can't help it, you see. It's a Condition.

*B has just become a follower. He took pity on me being stuck at 99. We Face Blind are basically very caring people.

27 comments:

  1. Well, as far as I can see, you have 101 followers now, so someone else must have "taken pity" on you - which I don't really think is the reason why anyone signs up for your blog :-)
    Face blindness can be annoying, I imagine. But how many of the total strangers you greeted like long lost friends have become real friends with you? It sounds like a good idea for a story!

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    1. I think the strangers were too confused to want to be my friend!

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  2. You didn't mention, Frances, that it not only has a name but a long and important sounding one: Prosopagnosia. I have a friend who has it and it can be quite disconcerting. However once your friends know that I'm sure they will make sure they speak first because you presumably have no problem with voice recognition as well. Someone who blogs recently mentioned their experiences with the condition. I assume that it wasn't you. I have good face recognition skills. I just can't remember things. At my age I might have started to worry but for the fact that I've always had an atrocious memory.

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    1. I don't have it as badly as some people, GB. Some have problems even recognising their families. I think I know mine. More or less...

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  3. Oh I do sympathise - but I also understand. I thought it was just me! Although in my case it's probably more "doesn't pay attention" syndrome or "lost in a dream world" itis :-) x

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    1. John says I don't concentrate (with films), but I really really do!

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  4. I have it too - like you I didn't know it was an actual condition.

    I sometimes find people remind me of someone else and that I'm the only person too see any similarity. My guess is I'm matching expressions rather than features.

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    1. All this is soooo reassuring! Thanks, Patsy!

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  5. I'm glad I'm not the only one. I thought it was me just not being observant. Nice to know it's a recognised condition. I have trouble at college when I have to identify students who've been up to no good. Their photos on the database generally look nothing like them and CCTV is often useless.

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    1. My late husband was a housemaster at an international boys' boarding house for a while. All races and shapes. Boy, did I have problems!

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  6. Nice article, thanks for the information.
    Anna @ rental mobil jakarta

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  7. Is there such a thing as name blindness too? I can watch a film and not remember a single character by name at the end. Actually I'm not a big film fan. I find I'm wandering off into fairy land unless the plot is really gripping.

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    1. But do you need their names, Maggie? So long as you know whose side you're on, I reckon you (or I) can cope!

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  8. It's nice to pass on one's traits to one's offspring, but this does seem to be something of a nuisance to you, and to your son. I knew it was a recognized condition, but I never knew its official name, as pointed out in DB's comment: Prosopagnosia.
    I agree, if your friends know you have the problem, they can help out by speaking first, but strangers are another story altogether. They can't be asked to help, but perhaps you could say "Are you Joe?" before you actually embrace someone.
    Being a curious sort of person, I had to look up prosopagnosia, and Wikipedia has some interesting things to say about it. Apparently there is a book (Oliver Sacks, 1985) called "The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat."
    My youngest brother is quite the opposite. He can identify people from their baby pictures, or from photos of their backs. We have always supposed this is because he's an artist, or it's what makes him an artist.
    Well, you've certainly got my imagination going today. And I'm curious about your answer to Librarian's question. Have any of those hugged strangers become friends?
    K

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    1. Is your brother good at art, Kay? I believe very observant people often are. I, if course, am hopeless!

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  9. I'm no good with names or faces. In fact when I first met the man who was to become my husband I recognised him by the registration number of his car. Giving strangers hugs can be fun.

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  10. Just to let you know the author Peter James has the same problem too. How do I know? he told us at the Harrogate crime fest. It happens when you are giving some many talks and book signings.

    Anyway pick up a Next Big thing thingy on my blog. Sorry I have to pick five and you were on my list :-)

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    1. Thank you for choosing me, Paula. Tho I'm not good at getting down to this kind of thing!

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  11. Well, you just made my day! I had been worried that it was something much worse (parent with Alzheimer's makes one hyper vigilant about such things).
    I am human-face blind like you but can recognize a horse or dog at a great distance.

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    1. Oh dear. I've been known to try to catch the wrong horse, too!

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  12. I think I have more of a problem remembering names than faces! It must be frustrating for you, Frances, but I'm glad it's not a more embarrassing condition you have.

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  13. Now I know it has a big name (thanks GB), I will not worry the next time I am unable to recall someone who is hugging me and calling me by name.

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