Prosopagnosia: Face Blindness in Action.

Face blindness in action. —

Yesterday, while I was checking my Post Office Box for mail, a lady came up to me, said “Hi” and started talking to me. I was frantically mentally scrambling to figure out, “Who is this woman who is standing right in front of me talking like she knows me? ” Eventually, she asked me if the lawn had been mowed at my landlord’s place next door to me. Finally, I figured out that she is the landlord’s friend who helps with painting and landscaping. I had been at work, so I told her that I didn’t know if the yard had been mowed yet. I told her that it was nice to see her again and we parted ways. I never did remember her name, nor did I address her by name.

This is what it is like for me to have Prosopagnosia (face blindness) issues. Sometimes I find my brain in a virtual whirlwind of frantic thinking, trying desperately to figure out who i am talking to and where I know them from. It is not really a pleasant thing and all the while I try to keep smiling and talking so they do not get offended by my initial lack of recognition of them.

I smile and am friendly to people that I meet, but, sometimes, my lack of immediate recognition seems to offend people. It is not an intentional slight or insult. It is something that I struggle with. Please understand that an enormous amount of brain processing is happening behind the scenes when I meet up with someone at an unexpected location or time. If I look confused, do not get offended. I am trying very hard to pick up on the clues that I need to decipher your identity. Please excuse me if you see a look of confusion on my face when we meet. It helps if you say something that reminds me of how we know each other or where we usually see each other.

“Face blindness (prosopagnosia) is common among people with autism spectrum disorders.” 

Categories: Autism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Prosopagnosia: Face Blindness in Action.

  1. Great minds think alike! I am writing about face blindness too!

    I have face blindness, but milder than my father. For me it takes time to learn new faces and I rely on context a great deal. I really relate to your description of trying to place someone, I often feel like that too! Thank you for sharing and great to see you on Triberr!

  2. Thank you, @A Quiet Week.

    My face blindness is not too severe. I am glad that I do recognize my family members and most people that I spend a lot of time around better than those with more severe face blindness. But it hits me often enough to create some confusing situations like this one at the Post Office. Many people still have never heard about this, so it is good to get the word out.

  3. Thank you for your post. I dealt with this annoyance for more than 40 years before my diagnosis. For example, I remember meeting someone at a movie theater and having one of those long uncomfortable conversations where you have no idea who these people are who seem to have such intimate information about you. After parting with the couple, my wife reminded me that they were the husband-wife medical team I had been meeting with every few weeks for the last few years for diabetic management and several studies. I knew their first names better than their last. However, they were out of context outside the office, and had neglected to wear their white coats to the movies 😉

  4. I have only recently realized what this is. I always thought I was “forgetful” (but I have an incredible memory for other things so it didn’t really fit). People come up to me all the time and it takes me a while to figure out who they are and how I know them unless they have a distinct way of dressing or a hairstyle. The worst are generic plain dressed people (like me, ha ha). When I worked at a store as a teenager I’d go to the back to grab something for a customer come back only to realize I had NO IDEA of how this customer looked 🙂 it is awkward, to say he least.

  5. Pingback: Prosopagnosia and Asperger’s in the Family « A Quiet Week In The House

  6. Faces are the worst! I can’t even recognize my family by just their faces (but luckily, they all have distinctive hair and most have glasses, so those are usually helpful for picking up on). One thing I like about winter is that you can memorize people’s coats and boots, since those are usually pretty constant all winter.

  7. oh wow (just found your site/post today..or maybe it found me?) many of your articles ‘talks’ to me ~ but i havent been diagnosed with anything except for depression and social anxiety.

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