Monday, May 30, 2016

You might have prosopagnosia if...

Prosos can't tell if these are different people or not.
I'm a member of a public Facebook group for people with prosopagnosia. Prosopagnosia causes you to have difficulty distinguishing faces. It's a true brain handicap that's recently been discovered in the past thirty years. If you have trouble remembering faces, get people mixed up all the time or can never follow movies/TV shows because you can't tell who's who, you might have it. Here are some more clues that you might be a proso, as we call ourselves (Prosopagnosia is also called "face blindness," but I don't like that term because it suggests that everyone's face looks to us like a smooth egg-like surface, which is not true.)

Each of these statements was posted by someone in the Facebook prosopagnosia group. They gave me their permission to use these anonymously. I've only changed the punctuation on some of them to make them easier to read.

You might have prosopagnosia if you have ever joined an organization simply because members wear name tags when they gather.

...or if you don't join a group or attend an event because they DON'T wear name tags!

You might have prosopagnosia if you have ever studied a list of names of people who are going to be at an upcoming event, so you might have a shot at knowing somebody.

You might have face blindness if you are frustrated because no matter how many times you ask people to introduce themselves to you when they next see you because you have a memory impairment that makes it hard to recognize people, no one ever does!

You might have face blindness if you feel very, very lucky that the good-looking man you were admiring turns out to be your husband!

You might have face blindness if you have ever happened upon an intruder in your home only to realize a moment later, you just walked by a mirror and didn't recognize your own reflection.

Or said "excuse me" to someone in a store only to discover it was you, in a mirror. (I have done this more than once!)

You might have face blindness if you often lose touch with friends shortly after they get a dramatic new haircut.

You might have face blindness if you've ever turned away from someone you've been talking to and immediately thought "cr@p I forgot to make note of what shirt they're wearing!" Double points if this has happened while out someplace crowded and the person in question is your significant other.

You might have face blindness if you know all the dogs at the dog park, but you never recognize any of the people.

You might have face blindness if you help out a celebrity and are confused why your coworkers are freaking out over the normal person.

You might have face blindness if all your problems were solved until Facebook started letting people change their FB profile pictures.

You might have face blindness if you can't watch a movie without a companion to tell you who is who. Or you don't really like popular shows such as Mad Men because everyone looks the same. It's like... the women look alike except the redhead, and the men all look alike except the one who has silver hair.

You might have prosopagnosia if choosing to dine alone means giving up any hope of being able to pick out your server when you need something.

You might be a proso if you tell someone you have it, and they go home and google it to see if it was safe for you to drive home!

You might have face blindness if your explanation of why it is you don't recognize people causes folks to ask stupid questions like, "Can you see my face at all?" "Does my whole face look blurry?"

You might have face blindness if you have ever warmly hugged a stranger and called them "mom."

Hahaha! Never did that, but I did put my arm through the arm of a man I thought was my husband!

Bonus points is your actual mom was standing RIGHT THERE.

You might have face blindness if you thought the movie "Heat" was a film about a man at war with himself, a police officer who was secretly on a crime spree.

You might have proso if you go to meet your long-distance boyfriend for the first time after years of dating, including talking on webcam and exchanging pictures, and you still have to ask him what he's wearing so you'll recognize him!

You might have proso if you have to ask friends who are giving you a lift, what colour and make their car is so you can be sure of getting in the right one....

You might have proso if you freak out anytime someone changes their avatar or profile picture because now you have no idea who they are, even after looking at all their posts.

You might have proso if you watched a couple minutes of the new Battlestar Galactica and decided there was no way, even if your partner was willing to explain.

You might have face blindness if you ever had to explain to a coworker why you have a post-it note on your computer monitor that reads: "Susan P: heavy set, red curly hair, Sara W: blonde straight hair, Rachel B: glasses, br hair, Mike W: almost bald, Chris F: br hair, wears bow ties..."

You might have face blindness if you avoid large community gatherings because the most common complaint friends have about you is that you are such a "snob" because you sometimes "completely ignore" friends you see in public. By skipping the special events, you avoid the social faux pas and resulting resentments caused by your not properly recognizing and warmly greeting pals you happen upon outside of their usual setting.

You might have face blindness if you have ever accidentally mistaken your boss for a client.

You might be a proso if you introduce yourself to your aunt at your grandmother's funeral.

You might have proso if you hear your boss coming down the aisle and do a double take because he is wearing jeans and a plaid flannel shirt. This guy was big, over 6‘5" and heavy. Normally he wore dark slacks and polo shirts but there had been a bad snowstorm overnight.

You might have face blindness if you have unfortunately had to avoid talking to someone in any setting other than one-on-one because you don't know how to avoid coming across like a racist because to you "they all look alike."

You might have face blindness if you choose which landscaping or cleaning company to hire by finding out which one doesn't have workers in identical uniforms.

You might have prosopagnosia if you've argued with your significant other about your inability to distinguish between people, and s/he thinks it's just carelessness, inattentiveness or you being dumb.

You might have face blindness if you enjoy that one of the extra benefits of having a service dog for your other neurological condition is that you can tell by your dog's body language if the person approaching you is a stranger or not.

You might have face blindness if you think the worst thing about getting in an argument with someone is that afterwards you feel paranoid because you aren't always sure when you are in that person's company or not.

Yes, these are all real things that happened to people who struggle with prosopagnosia, so if anyone ever tells you they have it, please take them seriously and maybe even ask how you can help them out. Helping them might be as simple as not being offended in the future when the person ignores you because they don't remember ever having met you. It's a difficult handicap to live with, so please be patient with us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love this post! I said, "Excuse me" to someone today before I noticed we were wearing the exact same clothes because it was my reflection.