Prosopagnosia Research at Bournemouth University

Prosopagnosia Discussion Board


Posted By Dr Sarah Bate on 22nd Aug 2010 at 12:24

How do you cope with prosopagnosia? Please reply to this thread with any strategies or tips you have for others.

Posted By Robert on 17th Mar 2020 at 1:57

QUESTION Does anyone have any kind of acronym system for helping recognize people? I.E., trying to recognize a short, middle age, white man with glasses and earrings who's bald, use an acronym like WEBS MGM and treat the acronym as though it's the person's last name to help link the acronym to who it is? W(hite) E(arrings) B(ald) S(hort) M(ale) G(lasses) M(iddle age)

Posted By Janet on 15th Oct 2018 at 19:33

Lovely to read all your stories,I'm the same, I'd love to meet you all and have a good laugh about it

Posted By David on 31st Dec 2017 at 16:59

If you are going to places where you may have met some of the people before (conferences, sales meetings etc) - get a list of who is attending which at least acts as a memory nudge. Data protection in the UK means this is not always possible. Organisers however can be quite understanding if you say you are bad with faces but good with names; everyone forgets names - so you can look very efficient!

Posted By Anonymous on 11th Jul 2017 at 23:52

I never knew there was a word for feeling this way. People have embarrassed me a lot and I get nervous going to New places, because I can't tell if I will remember anything from there.

Posted By Anonymous on 11th Jul 2017 at 23:50

Hair color, eye color, perfumes, hair styles, clothes and posture are all good ways to remember people. But sometimes even those fail. People get very offended and hurt when I can't remember them and I've been accused of racism, but honestly I find remembering the faces of black people difficult. It's just so difficult. I've tried to and come to realize that it's just how my brain works. My family don't understand why I find it very difficult to navigate. If I'm going somewhere I need to constantly look for landmarks, because each time I approach my destination it looks new like the first time I'm seeing it.

Posted By Unknown on 2nd Jun 2017 at 8:48

Having read many of the posts on this thread I feel a lot better about my inability to recognise people. One of my biggest problems is that I lead cycle rides which often involve welcoming new members into the club. One technique is to associate them with their bike, clothing, or helmet, but that doesn't work very reliably, because the same bikes, etc are used by different people. I find it very embarrassing when they come up to me a week or several weeks later and I can't remember their face at all. This is completely separate from the remembering of names, but I use the "smile at everyone" technique to pretend that I have just forgotten their name, whereas I can't remember their faces. I can't add much to the other methods described by others above, I have tried to use many of these techniques, but I have still at times failed badly to recognise the faces of people I have met before. My problem seems to be a mild or moderate one, is this possible? I usually have less problems recognising people I have met many times and spoken with many times, my problem is with people I have met a few times, or when people are out of context. My wife has very good facial recognition and teases me about the fact that I cannot recognise neighbours if they are not outside their houses. I also struggle sometimes with films with large numbers of characters, especially if they look similar. This problem has not developed in old age, I have always had it. How can I confirm if it is prosopagnosia?

Posted By Jessica on 22nd May 2017 at 19:35

One of the things I really struggle with is following the plot of TV programmes - especially ones such as Midsomer Murders which have lots of characters, often with several who look similar, who only appear in one episode - because I can't tell who is who and so I get confused about what is going on. Perhaps, whilst I do like Midsomer Murders and the like, that is why I seem to particularly favour long-running programmes with consistent characters, which allow me the time to get to recognise them. A brilliant help I have found with this, which I discovered by accident, is to turn on the audio description: it tells you who each character is whenever they appear! :-)

Posted By Simi on 27th Jan 2017 at 2:49

hi there,I used to work in a casino in Auckland. One of my jobs was to identify patrons who were band from the casino.So I studied big photo files.I used catch about 15 to 20 people every shift. The most people I have ever identified in one shift was 30 people in a shift.Really enjoyed this part of this job.I would relly challenge myself every shift.I think my record still stands at the casino.I would love to take the test. Simi Leota

Posted By Anonymous on 4th Oct 2016 at 13:29

I used to be a Cub Scout Leader - that means I had 36 kids all in identical uniform. If I struggled with a name I called them " Mr Cubby " or "Young Sir" or a made-up name like Fred Muppet, which they thought was funny. Usualy I was able to work out who they work in a few seconds, it was the initial recognition that threw me. If they came with parents it was easier, but if one parent brought several kids I could not always remember which kid was theirs and which was the car-share!

Posted By Jan on 10th Jul 2016 at 20:32

I talk to everyone, if someone looks at me and smiles I say hello, just to be on the safe side! All my coping mechanisms are subconscious as I had never even heard of prosopagnosia for the first 45 years of my life. Knowing about it makes sense of why I do some of the things I do and I am still discovering them. When I am in a new situation I always make friends first and I will select someone I can easily recognise. The bloke with long hair, the woman with purple hair, those with unusual dress sense or multiple piercings or tattoos. I pay attention to how people talk and move but it can be a slow process of getting to know them, especially with the more generic looking. I rarely use people's names and only introduce people if I know them both really well. I used to work for the police and now know why I learnt every single collar number... a very useful way of knowing who all those in uniform are. I have had people comment on how they admire how relaxed and natural I can be when talking to the boss... But that is easy when you have no idea they are the boss! When I do get it wrong I just apologise and laugh it off. I used to claim a bad memory but now I tell them why and usually have a great conversation about it. I once had friends who were identical twins and I was one of the few people who never confused them because I wasn't using their faces. Often it was their hair or if they both had it tied back it was their rings, one wore them and one didn't.

Posted By Anonymous on 14th Jun 2016 at 0:42

Does this condition affect your ability to hear music the same way everyone else does? Do you lack the basic rhythm of music or are you out of step and feel clumbsey trying to dance or sing to music?

Posted By Leila on 11th Jun 2016 at 21:42

Most of the strategies on this thread are mine too. I find I rely a LOT on voices, accents but also speech mannerisms, and body language - how fast or slow people move, whether they're the kind of person who hangs back or leans forward, etc. Example: a barista in my local cafe has alwys had long dredlocks, which made him easily recognisable, but recentlu cut them off. I did not recognise him at all *until* he started speaking and moving around, when I knew him immediately. His face is still like a stranger's though, even though I see him close up frequently. Coping strategies - I get to meeting places first, always. I always wait for the person I'm meeting to greet me first. I smile in a general sort of way at everyone, just in case I know them.

Posted By Rachel on 10th May 2016 at 1:28

I am glad to find this. Hi all! I had a car wreck in jan, I thought I was ok because the air bag "saved " 'me. Well it hurt my vision and teeth and lungs, . About a month after I noticed I was dizzy a lot and the much to my horror I could not recognize people! I did not catch on. People would come up and say "Rachel!!" And I would have to apologize. It is mixed. People I knew well before the wreck I still may have to concentrate and they look foreign to me, like I should know them. Then it clicks but it still seems past tense. People I met after? It is a grab bag depending on many things. If I feel sick it is worse. why I am here today is because 2 days ago a lady came up excited to have met me and I had no idea!!! I was so scared I almost burst into tears, She knew about my wreck but I felt terrible.

Posted By Gillian on 27th Apr 2016 at 2:34

I am retiring early from my job as guidance counsellor at a high school. I find the stress and extra energy I use to recognize colleagues, students, parents and co-workers is taking its toll. I appreciate reading everyone's comments because they are so similar to my own experiences. I am intrigued by the number of teachers who are posting here. I encourage you to keep telling your story to help others recognize and understand prosopagnosia.

Posted By Cathy on 26th Dec 2015 at 11:51

Will we know fellow prosopnosians as we look deep into each other's eyes, desperately searching for clues as to whether we already know them? And Hurrah for Humpty Dumpty, who has no social anxiety about saying it how it is - 2 eyes at the top, then a nose, and a mouth underneath. No distinguishing features at all!

Posted By Terri on 11th Oct 2015 at 11:14

I thought I was crazy until a recent episode of 20/20 or Dateline regarding Face Blindness. I have suffered with social anxiety for over half of my life due to a condition, I had never heard about until recently. I'm getting straight to the point, I'm no proud of this...I walk into my sons daycare and wait by the door until he sees me and jumps into my arms saying "mama". I am petrified of taking a child who isn't my own. I see my daughter as she is doing tumbling, than she taps me on the back. It wasn't her on the mats. I became frantic recently at a pool party for one of my daughter's close friends (20 girls, hair soaking wet, just faces bobbing up and down in the pool). I had to explain to the parent that I had trouble recognizing faces and asked her which one was my daughter. She looked at me strange, but pointed and yelled my daughter's name, she came running. I was at Walmart recently and threw sexy underwear in a shopping cart steered by a man I thought was my husband, and said "hey babe these would look sexy on you." His wife rounded the corner at the same time my husband did and my husband apologized for my behavior, he stated she has face blindness, but the couple left bewildered. I try to explain to people, if they are not where they are supposed to be in my head, than I won't know who they are. This is absolutely debilitating. I get angry. I work as a licensed Master of Social Work with hospice. I deal with terminally ill patients on a daily basis. I deal with the patients and families. Recently, I walked into a gas station and a woman just ran up and hugged me, I hugged her back, but she knew...."You don't remember me do you?" I apologized and admitted I didn't know/remember her. She said, "you took care of my terminally ill brother for two years and you don't remember?" When she said his name, it all came crashing back....but she wasn't where she was supposed to be in my head.

Posted By Liz on 8th Oct 2015 at 11:16

I really hope you don't mind me sharing this, I was thrilled to find this site and community when I read the Guardian article this week. I have not found anything about prosopagnosia and business, so I wrote a blog post about it today I'd love people to comment and share on there how they cope in a business / self-employed environment, to help other people - I've already had one other person come out of the woodwork on Facebook to share that they have the conditions, so even if I've just helped one person ...

Posted By Edward on 11th Sep 2015 at 21:12

I've always known that I had trouble remembering faces, but I never knew it was an actual condition with a name. I just read a story about Steve Wozniak of Apple Computer fame and he said he has prosopagnosia and can't remember faces. What a breakthrough - just having a name for it! Some feverish searching led me to this web site and as I read these very personal accounts, I could see myself over and over. It made me feel so much better, I decided to share some of my own experiences in hopes that others with this condition will see themselves and take some comfort from it. For the first part of my career I worked in high-tech companies where everyone was required to wear security badges with their names on them. I developed a strategy of dropping my gaze briefly to the floor when starting a conversation with someone, but I was actually scanning their badge on the way down and back up hoping to identify the person. That was better than looking directly at their badge, which would have made it obvious that I didn't recognize them. If only we could get everyone to wear name badges in everyday life! I was in for a shock when I moved to a company where no one wore badges. Without that crutch to rely upon, it took me an inordinate amount of time to learn the names of my new colleagues, and I never learned them all. I think they just considered me to be aloof. One tactic I learned long ago was never to call anyone by name. I learned the hard way that even when I thought I was sure who it was, I was sometimes wrong. Now I just greet everyone with a simple "hello" even if they call me by name in greeting me. As I pass people in the hallway, I constantly check for signs of recognition on their part so that I know to say hello and not appear rude. I also noticed long ago that when being introduced to someone, I could never remember their name or what they looked like. Even when I focus specifically on it, I usually fail. Even when I tell myself, "I need to remember this face and name," it always takes several meetings before I can do it. This has affected my career choices as I have avoided consulting work, even though I could be good at it, because it involves meeting many customers and needing to be socially "smooth." I've made sure I'm always on the customer side, not the selling side, so when I don't recognize someone it's not fatal to a deal. Some sales reps get miffed when I don't remember them, but they still have to try to sell to me. While someone is talking to me, my eyes are drawn to any unusual feature on their face - a mole, a chipped tooth, a birthmark. I have to consciously force myself not to focus on this, especially since these features are what the person might consider "defects" in their appearance. Now, after reading about coping strategies, I realize my brain focuses on those cues that will make the person look unique to me. I also noticed that I have more trouble recognizing men than women, primarily because women have more distinctive differences in hair style and body shape. But when a woman changes her hair style or color, I struggle to recognize them. Once a woman I knew well came to work with her hair completely under a scarf and I had no idea who she was, even after hearing her voice. I've always been uncomfortable in social situations that require meeting new people, or even worse, seeing people I've met once or twice before and are supposed to recognize. But I don't avoid those situations, I just do the best I can. When talking to someone who has obviously met me before, I keep my comments as general as possible and anxiously scan everything they say to give me clues as to how I'm supposed to know them. Often I can place them, even if I never remember their name. Just last night at a social event I talked to a man for an hour at dinner, but after the group adjourned to another room and started mingling, I realized I didn't know what the man looked like. Through focused effort, I was able to recall that he was bald and wore glasses. I scanned the room and there were only two men fitting that description, so I was in luck. Because I had made this preparation, when he approached me I was able to continue the conversation without missing a beat. My condition is not severe, I have no trouble recognizing family and close friends. So I can learn to recognize people, it just takes many more repetitions for me than others would expect. As you can tell, I've never told anyone, and didn't even know it was a "condition" to tell someone about. I'll start by telling my wife, at least it will explain some of my social awkwardness. I think I've bluffed my way through at work to where I don't need to tell them at this point. But when I move to a new job, I will definitely tell people up front (after I'm on the payroll, not before) to avoid the awkward situations. I have an exceptional memory for numbers and facts, so I concluded years ago that one part of my brain got overdeveloped and another was left underdeveloped. Yes, I was a nerd in school. After reading that Wozniak is a prosopagnosic, I suspect that this could be a frequent underlying condition for nerdism.

Posted By Renae on 15th Aug 2015 at 20:41

If I only need to remember someone temporarily I use clothing, because it's easy. When I meet a person I know I will see again I memorise their most obvious physical characteristic. Once at mothers group someone asked if I could them everyone at the table how I remembered them - luckily one lady was a psychologist who intervened to explain that it would not be as fun a game as it sounds because the thing they most hate about themselves is probably how I remember them. It's true, big wart on face - excellent something easy, I only have one other of those in my database and it's an aunt who lives on the other side of the country. If the most obvious thing is not unique (shared by others in database eg big nose) then I combine multiple things until I get a unique combination (eg big nose + turned out feet + leans to one side when they stand).. Occasionally I can't make a unique combination and have to settle for the same combination as someone else in a different group of people - I try to make it a group that is unlikely to cross paths, but have been caught out many times when someone turns up somewhere I wouldn't expect to see them, I think they are the other person for sometimes the entire conversation. I am very very good with voices, I think I developed it as a child and don't have to focus on it so I don't know how I do it, if I've spoken to some one more than a few minutes even long ago, I will recognise their voice. My friends and family also know to help me without being asked, they know when we walk into a room to step to the side and point out who everyone is and I memorise clothing as they go which is easier than searching the mental database for a dozen people at once. Work colleagues also figure it out quickly even before I started telling people or knew this had a name. Once they see me offend a couple of people I should have known they start telling me who's approaching. I have always wondered if someone can enlighten me, where is the point that you should know someone? When do normal people know who someone is, after meeting them once, twice, three times? If 2 people meet and have a conversation for 10 minutes then bump into each other the next day, do they know each other? I need to look at someone in conversation for around 30-40 hours over no more than about 2 years as a minimum. Or meet them about 50 times no more than a coupe of weeks apart each time. How long does it take other prosopagnostics, are there some who never recognise a face their whole life? Interesting.

Posted By Anonymous on 9th Jan 2015 at 18:30

Looking at the posts, I didn't see discussion the causes. I had a heart attack, followed by an anoxic brain injury. When I came out of the coma, I was blind. Gradually my vision returned and I thought I would move on. However, my vision did not seem right to me. I was watching "Arrested Development" ( a television show in the US) and a character on the show had face blindness. That started me looking for more information and this is where i am now. The coping mechanism I use is the same as everyone else has suggested; context, admitting to forgetting names, and my favorite - playing the prosopagpnosia card.

Posted By Sharon on 3rd Jun 2013 at 20:05

I pretend to know anyone who looks familiar. I chat and try to figure out who they are by what they say. Sometimes I'll describe someone to my husband later and ask him who it was. I tell people about the problem more and more now as I meet new people and explain that I might not recognize them next time I see them and ask them to tell me who they are. I do my best with identifying using features other than face but it doesn't work so well. I'm a great believer in name tags!

Posted By Anonymous on 25th May 2013 at 8:03

It always puzzles me why people have to go to the dark side of everything. So you have Prosopagnosia deal with it and move on with your life. I feel unique that I have this special condition that only a small amount of people in the world have. It is a built in mechanism to deal with unpleasant people who are nasty, rude, and insulting because you can't remember them the next time you meet them. It is too bad for the people who don’t have this condition. Certain types of people tend to make things much harder than it needs to be like Prosopagnosia and others look at it as a gift or a miracle. I think about all the odd and peculiar idiosyncrasy that I have and check others with this condition to see if they have the same. I tell people that I have Prosopagnosia, explain what it is, then wait for their reaction. It is a great gift.

Posted By Laura on 30th Apr 2013 at 15:56

I´ve been very interested to read this website as i share many of these issues. I find it hard to follow films as i get lost when people change their clothes. The worst are war films where Everybody has the same hairstyles and clothes. I also find men harder to recognise, probably because their hairstyles are more similar generally. I live abroad and i haven´t found it is more difficult with other nationalities but i have 3 kids and am very used to parents of their friends saying hello to me without me having a clue who they are-although in my defence there are 90 sets of parents between the 3 classes and i met them all just 1 year ago so this is possibly an issue many people would have. I generally fake it with general greetings but have been known on more than one occassion (embarassingly) to say hello the the same person twice in a 10 minute period becuase they have removed their hat or coat and i don´t realise it is the same person. I am terrible at navigating and i seem to completely miss signs of emotion such as stress in people close to me. I am totally clueless about celebraties or politicians and suck at general knowledge quizes. I don´t seem to be able to retain such random this likely to be connected? I am fairly intelligent and have a great memory for short-term things such as telephone numbers, appointments, picking up dry-cleaning, etc. I remember very little general knowledge, including things i have spent years of my life studying. Do other people also experience this or is this just a bad memory on top??

Posted By Holly on 29th Apr 2013 at 16:32

Hi everyone! I've only just learned that what I've got has an actual name so I'm sorry if I'm not as well-informed as I should be before posting (I've self-diagnosed via Dr Google, but if anyone knows somewhere in Yorkshire I could get a proper diagnosis that would be excellent. I don't want to bother my GP because it's not that problematic for me any more). I find the easiest way to deal with this is to either avoid eye contact or smile welcomingly at everyone you see. I hope I look friendly and not like a nutcase to strangers! Usually I can tell who someone is by their body shape, voice or clothing they often wear. I struggle to follow films, especially if they're subtitled so I can't focus so much on what the actors look like, and the actors in foreign films are often unfamiliar to begin with. I don't know if this is related or if I'm just horribly judgemental, but I find myself judging strangers on their faces alone. I can't remember a person's face, but I can tell if someone has a friendly face or a cruel face, and my first impression of new people is always based on the category I put their face in to. I get around being lost all the time by having google maps on my phone. I can follow a map fairly well, but I struggle putting together a map in my head. I'm fine doing a journey if I've done it with someone else a few times, but if I've only done it once before, or it's somewhere new, I'm going to get lost. I struggle with left and right as well, and generally flail in the direction I mean instead of trying to work out which is which. If I give myself a few seconds I remember which hand is right, but when I'm on the spot pointing is easier. I had quite serious social anxiety when I was younger, and still have it to some extent now. I think not knowing who anyone was contributed to that quite a bit. I'm still nervous now when I go out that I'll bump into someone I should recognise and blank them because I don't know who they are.

Posted By Unknown on 17th Apr 2013 at 18:13

Please excuse me for only knowing about this condition from a BBC Radio 4 programme. It did make me think though... Google recently released a new device called Google Glasses. This device could probably be programmed with face recognition software that could scan the wearers field of view and display the name of any matches from a library of friends and aquaintences. I'm not a programmer but there are plenty of developers, including at Google, that may be prepared to work on a proof of concept... Just wanted to share the idea. Google are actively looking for applications and I think this would be one worthy of their attention and considerable resources. Cheers Andrew Wiczling

Posted By Isobel on 8th Apr 2013 at 18:13

I'm interested that so many people use photographs. I don't find this helps at all. If I can't recognise someone in the flesh, I could hold their photogaph next to their face and not be sure it's the same person. In fact I can't always recognise family members in photos. Like other people, I use a variety of clues - context, hair, voice, height, build, style of dress - to recognise people and, after a while, I can do it, though I'm not sure it's their face that I learn to recognise. I once, very publicly, failed to recognise my own daughter because she was wearing a wig (I'll never live that down!) and I think that, if even those closest to me were presented, as in the test, with no hair or other clues, I would struggle. Incidentally, in reply to Adele's post (25/6/11)I am on the autistic spectrum, and when I was young I dressed 'differently' sometimes because I wanted to wear what I liked. For me, at least, it wasn't to do with wanting to be recognised so much as not understanding or caring that people would think I was weird if I didn't conform, so it had more to do with the autism (lack of empathy), I think. Nowadays, I take a good look in the mirror and try to assess if I'm dressed appropriately before I leave the house.

Posted By Patricia on 23rd Mar 2013 at 19:31

At 82 years I have suffered from this all my life. My father was the same so I wonder if it is hereditary? I have been in so many embarrassing situations that, for many years past, when I meet new people I tell them my problem and apologise in advance should I ignore them in the future. BUT I really believe that the older I become the face recognition is becoming very slightly better!

Posted By Diane on 22nd Mar 2013 at 15:54

Amara's post about a stranger (or is it??) coming to her door, and concerns about being a victim of crime if someone knew you were faceblind really caught my eye. I'm quite a ways into writing a novel with just that central theme. Still, my gut feeling is that criminals intentionally targeting someone because they have prosopagnosia would be quite rare. The odd thing is that most people are very bad at remembering what someone looked like when they saw them in an extremely stressful situation, and "eyewitnesses" -- even those without prosopagnosia -- are notoriously inaccurate. But, back to the question at hand. I love seeing some of my strategies listed here -- things we came up with independently. I also make diagrams of where people are sitting and jot down their names at meetings. As a variation on the caricature drawings and imagining people's faces as animal faces, I imagine drawing the person's name, or at least the first letter, directly on their face, using the shape of their eyebrows or nose or cheeks or mouth or jawline to help form the letter(s). I also try to come up with a verbal description of something memorable about their appearance, and write it down. Both of these latter strategies require that I focus solely on their face (tuning out conversations & any other input briefly) and try to memorize whatever I can.

Posted By Ruth on 24th Jan 2013 at 19:54

Hello loads of people like me! So good to know you're all out there. I've been faceblind all my life and diagnosed about ten years ago, in my 20s, from the website. Done research with Brad Duchaine in London and I think I have it quite bad. I use all the coping techniques listed especially the sound of people's speech, patterns of speaking and so on. I smile politely and say hello when I meet people and let them start a conversation to see if I can work out who they are. I need a "support worker" to watch films :) so pleased to see others do this too. For the last ten or so years I have been studying teeth and lips and some people I can now recognise from that. I will try the wedding ring trick that someone mentioned now I'm older and I know more married people. And to follow the above comment, I too see the shade of skin colour but don't get proper clues as to nationality. Oh and a few weeks ago I discovered that Clare Balding, Sue Barker and Hazel Irvine are three separate people...

Posted By Anonymous on 5th Jan 2013 at 16:32

Hello, everyone! You all sound like me! yay! I've tried explaining to others what I go through, but they usually just look at me like I'm full of bs. I was recently talking to a friend and trying to explain my "problem" to her, to which she replied, "so your just oblivious"! I've never been so offended, and tried to explain I'm anything but! I need to pay extra attention to detail when I'm around people! Anyway...I figured I'd stop in and write about some of the ways we have been blessed... 1. We are VERY forgiving! Someone can treat us horribly bad, go home change their hair and clothes, come back and still have the chance at being our friends! 2. If you don't stop to say hi to us...we don't really mind:) I think it helps us all to be less judgmental. ....that reminds me. I have a problem with distinguishing what part of the world people are from. Like my husband will say that person is korean, and that one is mexican, but to me if their skin tone is the same and their eyes don't give them away, then I can't "label" them. The only people I can say I can truly distinguish as far as "what they are" are extremely white people and extremely black people. Everyone in between....I have no clue in identifying an origin. I really enjoy this about myself though because it makes me a very non judgmental person. I can't distinguish, so I just see everyone as the same:)

Posted By Anonymous on 2nd Dec 2012 at 7:41

Isabeau - I set up a temporary e-mail address on yahoo - [email protected] - If you want to talk about our condition and compare experiences send me an e-mail. I am the person in Pleasanton.

Posted By Anonymous on 28th Nov 2012 at 1:32

Isabeau I am the person interested in getting together and people watch I live in Pleasanton CA. If you would like to talk on-line that would be great. I'm not sure how to go about this without giving out personal information what do you suggest?

Posted By Isabeau on 26th Nov 2012 at 2:10

I usually go by people's hairstyles. That really doesn't work well if they drastically change their hair though. If I am not sure if I know someone or not I just try to be as generic as possible when chatting and hope they drop clues during a conversation so that I can figure it out. To the person interested in getting together to people watch and discuss our condition in the Bay Area--I am in Sacramento and would be interested in this.

Posted By Richard on 4th Nov 2012 at 20:46

I have suffered from prosopagnosia all of my life but only realised it as an adult. It has been so comforting reading all of your comments and realising that I am not the only one ! I have endured most of the things written about on this board - failure to recognise reasonably close friends that I had seen the day before, failure to recognise work colleagues, failure to be able to follow films / series because I don't recognise the characters. I have three young kids and worry when we are out together that if I lose them I would not be able to find them due to lack of recognition (I have to continually remind myself what they are wearing). I have a job which means I have to meet dozens of people who I am supposed to recognise (they all recognise me) but it's impossible. In meetings I continually write down what people look like and what they are wearing. I use the fact that there are so many people that I am supposed to know as an excuse for not remembering anyone. When I try to explain the problem to anyone, including close family, they just say the typical "yeah, me too" kind of response. There are no easy solutions. All the tactics have been explained elsewhere plus I just try to be as friendly as possible to people so that they are not offended if I fail to recognise them. I would be happy to participate in any way that would help similarly-troubled people.

Posted By Sandra on 25th Sep 2012 at 13:41

Hi Janet. I'm Sandra from the Daily Mail article you read. My aim was to try to raise awareness so I am delighted to hear it helped you find out about face blindness. Totally terrifying experience I have to admit, not least when the make-up artist and personal stylist turned up at my house with a photographer! Definitely outside my comfort zone, I never ever wear make-up and really don't like looking at the photo at all. Your post makes it all worthwhile doing though :)

Posted By Anonymous on 22nd Sep 2012 at 8:13

Anyone in northern California Bay Area interested in getting together to "people watch" and compare our neurological condition and perception of people. I am anxious to meet others with this condition.

Posted By Janet on 20th Sep 2012 at 11:15

I had my moment of revelation an hour ago when I read yesterday's Daily Mail & the article on Face Blindness -- really fortuitous because I only started buying it yesterday for the genealogy offer. Now everything is starting to make sense. Fortunately I'm on the lower end of the spectrum. My real regret is not knowing this before I retired a few months ago. I worked as a social worker in a small team which I had got to know well then we moved to another town, sharing a very large office with a number of teams that we needed to liaise with. Previously most of my contact had been by phone and so the expectation was that one would quickly get to know/recognise dozens of other people. Walking through a crowded office trying to locate someone you had engaged with the previous day is daunting and asking someone where "X" is with the fear that the person you are addressing is actually "X" is awful. If I'd know what I know now I would have cascaded an email explaining my problem because I'm sure I would have had an empathetic response & maybe even found people with the same difficulty.

Posted By Anonymous on 7th Sep 2012 at 6:36

I recommended that they reverse the post from most recent to oldest that way you don't need to scroll all he way down to the bottom to read the new posts. What do you think?

Posted By Karen on 27th Aug 2012 at 20:17

I learnt about prosopagnosia a few years ago when I did a neuropsychology qualification. Early this year I realised I probably have prosopagnosia. From afar I recognise people by their gait and shape. Up close I recognise people by their voice. If people are out of context I do not recognise people I know well until they speak to me. I have never been able to put names to actors, presenters, musicians or poleticians. However if I hear an actor on the radio and then hear them on TV or film I know it is the same person when others can not make the connection. I would be interested in taking part in any research to develop a further understanding of this condition, and the devekopment of a meaningful neuropsychological test that is ecologically valid. I am a clinical psychologist/neuropsychologist.

Posted By Anonymous on 20th Jul 2012 at 8:59

I describe people into certain looks because to me everyone looks alike. White men in their 20 and 30 with saved close cropped hair all look alike and the same for Black, Asian and Hispanic. When I attempt to describe someone people would tell me they look nothing alike. This sometimes made me think I was a racist when in fact it has nothing to do with race it is how I see them because of the Prosopagnosia. If I see two or more people standing together with these features it is impossible for me to differentiate them. I started dating an older man in February and all I can remember is he has white hair and wears glasses so I try not to get separated because I will never find him if there are other older men with white hair and glasses. Situations like this make me laugh. I recently learned about face blindness on a new TV program that was on this week Premonition and I have spent hours researching it and I find it fascinating. My mind is flooded with flash backs on all the unexplainable situations over the years and everything is coming clear to me. Twenty years ago I missed my nephew’s entire wedding because I drove around for over 2 hours looking for the wedding and it was only a few miles from my home. I am eager to meet someone else who is face blind so we can watch people together and see how we perceive them. I am curious to know how people actually look to other people who are not face blind do they look totally different than what I see. I have always known that I was different and this has changed my life forever and I love it.

Posted By Anonymous on 19th Jul 2012 at 1:54

I have known all my life that I was different and I knew that some day I would find the reason why. Not recognizing my own son on the playground or grandkids, getting lost where ever I go even if it is only a short distance, always looking directly into person’s eyes when talking to them to see if I recognize them. My family has lovingly accepted me as the dingbat who gets lost all the time and can't recognize her own grandkids, or spends hours in the grocery store for no reason. In the business world it was a little difficult to laugh it off like I do now but I faked it and managed to succeed in life and career. I have pride in myself and don’t allow people to intimidate, insult or belittle me so I have always been able to handle this “special” quirk or idiosyncrasy as a blessing not a curse. I like being different and I knew the day would finally come when I find that I am not the only one with this “special” feature. Have fun with it and enjoy the ride.

Posted By Paul on 9th Jul 2012 at 12:59

Like many people on this thread, I have mild face-blindness, and always thought I was just stupid. I find it difficult to learn people – once I know them I’m usually OK. ( I had real problems following the plots of films, and thought everyone else was really clever, until I managed to learn a few of the actors.) There are just a few people who I can never seem to get, which is really embarrassing. Fortunately I can read emotions without difficulty (I think). Anyway – strategies, worked out as a vicar and then a teacher (not the best jobs for someone with this condition!) • Make notes on people after meeting them – it forces you to think about them • Draw a seating plan and go round it in your head several times after the first class/meeting • Obtain a print out from college office of mug shots of all students • Wait for the recognition in people’s eyes in the corridor or the street – then at least you know you ought to recognise them • Avoid saying anything specific until you’ve worked out who they are – say “How are things?” – they usually tell you, and that often gives you enough clues. • When visiting hospital, people are even harder to recognise – but they usually have their names above their beds! Also the nurses will tell you exactly where they are. • Never say “I can’t remember who you are” – it’s really hurtful to people. Instead say “ I can’t remember your name”. It’s a lie – I’m very good at remembering names – but it’s a white lie, and it gets over the problem. I’ve tried “Do I know you?” as well, but you get some funny looks. • But the biggest thing has been discovering that it’s a condition. I now start every new class by telling them I’m face blind, and explain that though I will probably be OK in the classroom, I won’t recognise them outside. Sometimes there’s someone else there who is face blind too. And I can blame my rudeness on a medical condition – which is easier for them and me. Paul Lack

Posted By Allison on 6th Jun 2012 at 8:08

5 years ago I moved to the small Texas town where I now live. All 3 of my children have done very well here. They are all well known and received by the town. They are all athletes who have helped bring recognition to the town and athletic programs. At 6ft 7in my son was a football star. Both my girls are over 6ft 2in and are known as the Twin Towers of girls basketball in the region. Also they are great kids. As a result, everyone in town knows me. ... I have tried to avoid the stress and panic of not recognizing my kids teachers and coaches. Rather than developing coping mechanisms over the years I retreated more and more into the small circle of my family. Now, to my horror people care if I recognize them, they feel slighted when I don't wave or speak to them. Remember,this is Texas and sports are very important. But, the primary claim to fame in this small town is money (of which I am not in abundance). The situation I now find myself in is that most people consider me to be arrogant and stand off'ish - as sad as it is this fits within my comfort zone. If you don't speak to me then I don't have to panic and wonder how I should know you. What is the worst though is that the people who run what happens in this small part of Texas are actually offended when I don't have a clue who they are. Some have felt compelled to knock me off the high-horse that they percieve I am perched upon. The reality for me is that I am just trying to just blend in. I am a victim of my kids sucess when out of the blue someone says something really ugly or insulting to me. I now drive 30 miles away to go to the grocery store because I am afraid of offending someone. .... Obviously, I am very proud of my children but this has become a very serious problem for me and has isolated me even more than I was before.

Posted By Anonymous on 28th May 2012 at 22:18

I'm so glad I know about this condition, but now what o I do?

Posted By Anonymous on 28th May 2012 at 22:15

Firstly pls excuse the grammar, im on the ipad! I am self diagnosed with prosoprognosia as i cant find a test anywhere. I recognise family and close friends, but struggle with all others . I just see it as a quirkypart of who i am. However, at work this causes issues. As people are unaware of my condition, i can appear unprofessional, almost stupid! . Last week i had a conversation with someone at work who i thought was someone else (I'd gone outside my comfort zone and taken a risk by approaching him rather than phoning him) I consult in IT, but how can people take me seriously when I make mistakes like that! Should I tell people at work I have this condition? Most people prob won't take it seriously. I'm even going anonymous as I wouldn't want people I know to think I'm stupid!

Posted By keith on 16th May 2012 at 18:35

I only found out about this condition a little over a year ago, although I have dealt with it my entire life. I always assumed I had mental issues and was afraid to say anything. I not only have issues with other people’s faces, I can’t see myself in the mirror which was very disturbing when I was an adolescent and young adult. I do use hair and jewelry as clues but what helped me a lot was I got to be VERY good with voices. That was particularly helpful in business. I also trained myself to be very good at reading expressions, which sounds contradictory if you can’t see faces but it works. I look for that spark of recognition in their face so at least I know it is someone who knows me. I kept this inside me for my entire life and never told anyone including my wife of 26 years, who unfortunately is gone. It is such a relief to be able to talk about it. So far I have only told my daughters and my father but just to talk about it at all is huge.

Posted By Jane on 24th Feb 2012 at 14:52

Yes I would also like to try the online test. I have no problem with recognising family, and people at work are OK as long as they don't change their hairstyles, shave off beards etc. But I have worked in the same place for 9 years and it did take me a long time to learn who people were. Context is all important. If I meet someone from work out of their usual surroundings, e.g. in a supermarket, then I have that horrible panicky feeling that I should know them but cannot place them. I have offended people badly on a few occasions when I meet them when out and have not recognised them despite them having previously entertained me to dinner or the like. When I apologise and say that I have a very bad memory for faces they usually look at me as if I am making excuses. I suppose it must seem as if they are not very important to me if I can't remember them. I also have a huge problem with remembering names. Some of this is just poor memory on my part but I think it is also because I cannot mentally visualise faces at all, even my nearest and dearest (or even my own face, come to that!). So I have no mental picture to pin names onto which makes it harder to learn them. My techniques are mainly around getting myself out of hot water when I can't remember who someone is or when they clearly remember me and I haven't a clue who they are. Just keeping them talking until they let slip something that contextualises them sometimes helps. Something vague like 'how is the family?' can provide some clues.

Posted By Brian on 18th Jan 2012 at 21:15

Part of my job involves me traveling to a customer's office to repair equipment. Frequently my onsite contact will walk away during the repair and not come back before I'm finished. If I need to go find them I will typically walk around and stare each person I come across in the eye and look for signs they recognize me; raised eyebrows, lifted chin, etc. If that doesn't work and I need to ask for help I ask someone I know for sure is NOT the person I am looking for (opposite sex if possible). It's kind of embarrassing when you ask where Joe is only to have them say "I'm right here...".

Posted By Vanessa on 30th Dec 2011 at 22:15

Is the online test with the percentage result still available? I want to be able to measure my difficulty against others here who have noticed a problem, but I can't find it. I don't know if mine is mild (I recognise everyone in work) or more serious (I didn't recognise my sister at a bus stop). It seems to depend a lot on whether the people are where I expect them to be. People on TV are easier, maybe because there is more opportunity to study them than in life where it would be rude to stare. I thought I might try to find an excuse to take photos of new people so I can try to learn them, but I couldn't think of how to do that without looking like a mad stalker ;) Where can I find the online test mentioned in some other posts?

Posted By Laura on 6th Nov 2011 at 10:26

I try to avoid meeting to many new people at once, sometimes it is unavoidable though. I try to remember height and mannerism. If all else fails which quite regularly occurs if anyone looks like they recognised me I just smile and go along with the conversation. I can usually figure out who they are after a few minutes conversation. This has led to me holding conversations with random strangers but also making a few new friends at uni who I originally thought were already my friends. I have also "trained" close friends and family to include a persons name when we meet them randomly "Jane, I haven't seen you in ages", by far this is the best way to deal with situations but not always feasible.

Posted By Nina on 7th Sep 2011 at 3:44

Wow. I'm glad to read the comments from people who see faces and recognize people they know well, but can't remember acquaintances; that's my problem. And I, too, am in a very social field. I always wondered why people recognized me but I didn't recognize them; was I more distinctive than most? I can completely relate to so many of the comments here. As for coping, I'm basically down to telling people I don't remember faces very well, and leaving it at that. I've embarrassed myself too many times; it's getting ridiculous. Incidentally, I think Humpty-Dumpty in 'Through the Looking Glass' should be our mascot. Here's the relevant bit from the book: `Good-bye, till we meet again!' she said as cheerfully as she could. `I shouldn't know you again if we did meet,' Humpty Dumpty replied in a discontented tone, giving her one of his fingers to shake; `you're so exactly like other people.' `The face is what one goes by, generally,' Alice remarked in a thoughtful tone. `That`s just what I complain of,' said Humpty Dumpty. `Your face is that same as everybody has -- the two eyes, so -- ' (marking their places in the air with this thumb) `nose in the middle, mouth under. It's always the same. Now if you had the two eyes on the same side of the nose, for instance -- or the mouth at the top -- that would be some help.' This egg absolutely speaks for me!

Posted By Anonymous on 27th Jul 2011 at 18:19

PS: Sorry for the enormously long post. Is there a condition for people who cannot truncate their text? :)

Posted By Anonymous on 27th Jul 2011 at 18:15

I rely heavily on stride, stance, and verbal mannerisms (not just voice - but tone and sentence structure). I also have learned to focus on body parts -- which includes the non-sexual observance of rear, chest, waist, etc. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit this to myself, but I find myself "checking out" other people (women and men alike) -- not out of lust, but out of trying to figure out who is who. It is absolutely not sexual, but still feels creepy to remember "that guy next door with the saggy butt" or "the lady at work who wears too tight of a bra and appears mis-shapen" My first career was as a public figure. I was a broadcaster and would seldom converse with the strangers I met. When I met them the second time, they usually assumed I had just met so many people and would remind me "I was at XYZ event last year with the puppy costume..." and it I would smile and nod (a REGULAR person likely wouldn't remember that anyhow, so I was OK). I instantly recognize people in my immediate office space and people from church. Anyone I deal with on a daily basis, I might not remember their name (I need to work harder to remember names)... but I would know them. However, I once had a coworker jump out and startle me at a busy train station. He was inches from my face, making a silly voice and acting drunk. It wasn't until he walked away and I saw his sachel (I recognized it as his) that I knew who he was. In that context, he just wasn't familiar. When I see co-workers at the mall (people I've seen a half dozen times or more), I generally know that I know them -- and usually remember from where. The tricky part is when I see similar people. I work with a few people of similar ethnicity, and it's tough to remember who is who and who sits where. When watching TV or movies, I contantly ask my wife "is that the killer or the lady who is running from the killer?" If two characters have similar hair color / length -- and similar body shape, I'm lost. I can't tell Denzel Washington from Wesley snipes -- but I'm not just a redneck racist. I can't tell Brad Pitt from Val Kilmer either. I was a huge fan of John Popper (Blues Traveler front man) -- I'd even met him face to face before. But I didn't recognize him at all in pictures when he lost all the weight. Not just a "wow, he looks different!" It was literally "I have no idea who that guy is". And if I hadn't met him at a Blues Traveler concert... even when he was heavy, if he wasn't wearing the famous harmonica vest with the "Four" cat embroidered on the back -- it's likely I'd have smiled and walked by. I accept that there is some work I can / should do to remember names more effectively... but beyond that, there are some aspects of people that I just don't recognize. Similarly to other posts here, I recognize odd people. I know a guy who kinda looks like Lyle Lovett, and I have no problem remembering him. Others get associated with other musicicans with whom I'm familiar... but never based on facial features. Always on hairstyle.

Posted By Anonymous on 7th Jul 2011 at 11:40

Hi everyone - yes, such a relief to know there are others who experience this. I find social situations difficult - I avoided a street party recently because I knew that after it, all the neighbours we didn't previously know would recognise me and expect me to recognise them - and I knew I wouldn't. In a small village, I just have to smile at everyone and assume I may well know them. Agree that a 'no idea' choice on the facial recognition test would be helpful. Did others also find it very stressful to complete? After the first few, when I try consciously to manage, I start to feel a sense of helplessness and start to hit the 1/2/3 buttons just randomly faster and faster to get through it as I cannot recognise anyone! Do others also find it has an impact on how you read books - because I cannot visualise any of the characters from their descriptions? For years I was puzzled by this inability.

Posted By Bill on 28th Jun 2011 at 17:06

As said above - I guessed virtually all the faces. A "no idea" choice would be good. i recognise people by their mannerisms, voice and clothing. Out of context, I really struggle. I had a 25 year class reunion a couple of years back and fortunately had many recent photo's on Facebook that I was able to study. When we got together, I was still able to recognise people by their voice and mannerisms, which to me hadn't changed too much. Oddly, I was voted the least changed in the past 25 years which I found pretty bizarre since I'd cut my hair since the hippie days, grown a beard and lived abroad in the interim with consequent change to my accent. But I guess such things are insignificant to normal people ;)

Posted By Joanna on 28th Jun 2011 at 11:42

I took the test and it was a total guess for each face. I got 45% so on reflection I think I did quite well but the truth is I didn't recognise any of them as they had no hair and they were all white. Or nearly white. I don't have difficulty with close friends etc or colleagues I work with a lot. There are lots of co-workers upstairs who i guess i must see quite a lot of but i doubt i would know them if they came up to me or if i saw them out of context. i was in a kids home from birth till 3 years old ish - so i wonder if multiple carers has an effect on the development of this skill?

Posted By Fiona on 26th Jun 2011 at 23:59

Val, Brigid - yes, I would also have liked a "none of them" button on the test as almost every answer was a total guess (I got 43%). As others have said it's a relief to know there is a name for this, I did not know it was a recognised condition until reading a recent Guardian article about it. I try to use hair and context to help me, but if someone changes their hair style or colour it is very unlikely I'll recognise them, and I have introduced myself to a colleague whom I saw in a different office than normal, thinking she must be a new person, when she was someone I had frequent contact with. One theory I have thought of is that when I was a young child I saw very few people - from age 2 to 6 we lived on an island so there were only 9 people I had to recognise on a daily basis, all easily differentiated. So perhaps I didn't develop the ability to recognise faces because I didn't need it?

Posted By Adele on 25th Jun 2011 at 1:35

A question: Because I have worked with people on the autistic spectrum who are known to have a greater chance of having congenital prosopagnosia than the general population I know quite a number of people with the condition and I have noticed a common trait - almost all of them/us stand out visually in some way. Two of my friends with proso are goths, my 15 year old daughter (she probably has it too) is a sort of brightly coloured goth (but definitely not emo), I'm a flambouyant aging hippy/punk who dresses in bright colours and dyes her hair purple and my son is in a class of his own and was dying his hair (encouraged by school, not me) to represent dragon flames at 12 (he has AS and is obsessed with dragons). Another friend is into cos play and dresses as her favourite character; only one of all of them dresses with any subtlety. My question is this: Is this a feature of prosopagnosia or is it more associated with high functioning autism (not all the people I know with proso are on the spectrum, my daughter, myself and one of the goths are not)? Or is it just coincidence? I have pondered on whether or not people with prosopagnosia perhaps need to stand out - maybe, because they find it easier to identify people who stand out in some way, they are drawn to make themselves recognisable by using a sort of anti-camoflage on the assumption that it is normal to ignore facial features so if you want to be recognised you have to stand out in other ways. just a thought - I'd be interested to hear any opinions on this.

Posted By Adele on 25th Jun 2011 at 1:00

I thought I had mild problems - I can see a face, I just can't remember it. But I just scored 33% which it says I could have got by just guessing. Compared with my son my problems really are mild - he looks at a face and sees only the nose, the rest fades out to black. Can you imagine how scary a high school dining room was for him? crowds of teenagers all dressed the same, all yammering on with those blank faces? He can't tell whether they are talking to him or not, whether they are looking at him, whether they are friendly or hostile, the place is total confusion for him. Camhs told me that some of his behaviours as a small child were typical of blind children - he would take my hand and place it on the back of his head so that I could guide him through crowds. Later he started shadowing me on my left shoulder and now, as an adult, he walks ahead of me, just ahead, so close that if I miss a step I will collide with him - he says it is so that I can't go faster than him (he's afraid of losing me in a crowd) and that although he is in front he is still actually following me using his peripheral vision

Posted By Malcolm on 24th Jun 2011 at 16:23

I hated football as a kid, I had no idea who was on which team. Now I have been known to not recognise my kids, or grand-kids. Now I just tell everyone, so they all know to greet me by name. I also find I can spot people by the way they move. I've also noticed differences between people's movement and style of dress from different countries (esp Germany and UK, both countries where I have lived)

Posted By Brigid on 24th Jun 2011 at 13:56

When I took the test for each question it just a complete shot in the dark - all the ten men we saw at the start had no distinguishing features for me to hang my memory on, so I hadn't a clue. I know my family and close friends with no problems but I find work and social occasions a nightmare. I always wondered if I am too busy trying to make a good impression on people on these occasions that I put all my mental faculties into this and therefore forget their faces - that was before I knew there was such a thing as this condition. I have contemplated so often asking work colleagues if i might take a picture with my phone of them, and then i could study it at home , but have never dared ask. As others, I am hopeless with TV, never knowing who is who - I would love name tags also. I am good with voices - and this helps once they speak but that is always after that first embarrassing moment of non-recognition!

Posted By Christine on 23rd Jun 2011 at 12:38

I got 50% in the test so classed as mild, in fact just above the cut-off point, but I felt I was guessing wildly and had the sort of mild panic about it that I get in real-life situations. I didn't have a sort of data bank to refer back to of the faces I'd seen and that feels like it's the basis of the problem for me. I have very poor visualisation ability (my husband's is almost perfect: he can recall visual details of all sorts of things from 50 or more years ago)and I tend to rely on remembering "facts" about people and things. I never really worked out strategies other than trying to sound warm and friendly if the other person does and engage them in enough conversation to get clues. My husband used to joke that I was "dimly aware of my surroundings" and imply that if I stopped daydreaming and concentrated, I wouldn't have problems, but has , I think, begun to realise that it's not that simple. Does anyone else have problems visualising?

Posted By Andy on 22nd Jun 2011 at 21:46

40% in the test which I found disappointing as I only consider myself a mild sufferer. I do seem to fail to recognise the same few people repeatedly. They don't have any memorable characteristics to my mind. Also I have found a couple of instances where someone I know now seems to have replaced in my mind someone else I used to know, perhaps because I never knew them at the same time and they seemed similar and so merged. How do I cope? I don't know. I guess I just put up with it.

Posted By Caroline on 21st Jun 2011 at 12:23

I wonder whether I almost overcompensate by remember entire conversations word for word. If only I could recognise the person I had had the conversation with. I am extraordinarily bad at following films and tv programmes - there are fewer visual cues than in real life, and often I have no idea who has done what. In real life I try very hard to do a verbal recognition (Glasses/small nose/curls) until the proper recognition kicks in. But that is quite fallible. I once worked in the same building as someone for a year and spoke to him several times, then to my horror saw him TWICE, talking to himself, and realized that they were two different people. Both tall, slim, short dark hair - I was doomed.

Posted By Val on 21st Jun 2011 at 11:00

I have great difficulty recognising people, other than family, that I don’t see on a regular basis without the aid of photographs. I fudge it and avoid names until I get a clue. A couple of years ago, in Edinburgh, I met someone who greeted me warmly. She obviously knew me since she related anecdotes from school days. I remembered the scrapes we had got into but sadly, not her name or face. I had sat beside her for a year. As for actors and actresses and public figures, I don’t usually recognise them because of that I avoid soaps, they are too confusing. Having said that, a distinctive walk, feature or attitude helps. I have great difficulty recognising people, other than family, that I don’t see on a regular basis without the aid of photographs. I fudge it and avoid names until I get a clue. A couple of years ago, in Edinburgh, I met someone who greeted me warmly. She obviously knew me since related anecdotes from school days. I remembered the scrapes we had got into but sadly, not her face or name. She realised laughed said I hadn’t changed, still dizzy. Now I can tell her why. The problem has improved over the years. I am very glad to be able to put a label on it. Did anyone else need a ‘none of the above button’ in the test?

Posted By Anonymous on 21st Jun 2011 at 8:25

I got 38% on the test but I wasn't sure of any or the answers. In the whole test there were maybe two or three photos I was sure I hadn't seen before. I've had some embarrassing moments with face blindness, eg, walking into an office where I used to work and not noticing that one colleaugue had been replaced by a new person. They were both slim with dark hair. The others went on about it for weeks and I was squirming.

Posted By Anonymous on 21st Jun 2011 at 0:32

It didn't surprise me that I got 0% on the test, and I believe I followed the instructions - but I could not recall anything from the presentations and really struggled. I would like to ask if the sequences of 3 faces came through more than once, perhaps to compare with the first try. That would mean that I failed both times round if so, which is even more interesting.

Posted By Anna on 21st Jun 2011 at 0:24

Wow! How strange to hear other people doing the same things I've been doing without realising it: I also use voice, personality & context to fix faces. For years I just assumed people who could easily recognise others were odd, until I realised my 3 year old could recognise people better than me. Now, I do a few things consciously: at work I use seating plans to 'fix' students - I learn 3 or 4 per lesson, but I need to repeat this 3 times a week to 'fix it'. I 'lose' students' faces over the summer as they grow, so I relearn them. Students I interact with in passing - I write down a name/context - I won't recognise them once they have walked away. My daughter, looks out for people in town, as I never see them & I'll try to remember what my family was wearing. I'll watch telly with my daughter to check on characters - Vampire Diaries is a nightmare! Family? its been a standing joke for years. Politicians, actors celebrities...well I'll never meet them anyway! People on the doorstep - tricky - we live in a village so its easier, but I was quite rude to my son's scout leader the other day thinking he was a door to door salesman.

Posted By John on 20th Jun 2011 at 23:43

Also, on the test, I thought the face colours were a help and probably designed to be so. but it would be more difficult if you made all of the faces the same shade. Putting them on diagonals made it harder as nose length was not significant on the full frontals. Also, if the angle had changed every time the faces changed, it would have been easier to cope with the test. Also, sometimes I was not sure but had to guess; a don't know answer would be more acccurate.

Posted By John on 20th Jun 2011 at 23:34

To Linda who got zero%. Thats what I got, then we worked out that you have to press a number key as the mouse click was not designed to do anything. Try again with the number keys. My wife thinks I am STUPID and I am an experienced PC fiddler.

Posted By Laura on 20th Jun 2011 at 17:36

Once I know people well and can recognise them easily, they always look different to how they did before. Distinctive features are exaggerated. Does anyone else have that? When I bump into a good friend on the street often they have to stand right in front of me and address me by name before I realise, and then as I recognise them all their first-glance features are superimposed by the features I know.

Posted By Sharon on 19th May 2011 at 21:03

I just found the name for this today. I don't have a strategy. I just struggle. I'm fine with family and people I know well but terrible with others. I have trouble with chilren and adults. Maybe I will start telling new people about prosopagnosia and that will help.

Posted By Lucy on 8th May 2011 at 19:54

I have had particular problems this year now that my children have started losing their baby teeth for big teeth. Their faces are changing so fast I simply can't recognise them. I also pay their swim teacher at the end of the lesson. Even if I stare at the teacher solidly for the lesson, I never can pick them out at pool reception with their clothes on and hair towel-dried. I can recognise school gate mums from the car they arrived in. If they walked, I've had it. Unless they brought a dog or a distinctive pushchair. Things that have completely thrown me include people who have had their teeth whitened, changing the shade of their highlights or when they have a sore throat and their voice changes. I count people in family groups at the school gates and guage relative heights of kids. If one child is off sick in a family I get very doubtful that they are the people I know.

Posted By Stephen on 11th Apr 2011 at 20:32

Most of my strategies have already been mentioned here (context, hair) but I have some others which haven't been mentioned. 1) Facebook - thank goodness for facebook & profile pictures. I try to friend anyone whom I expect to have regular contact with or who I already have regular contact with, then I study their profile picture and any pictures they're tagged in. 2) Photography - I'm an avid photographer (love doing portraits) and I use Aperture from Apple. It has facial recognition built-in to it. It detects faces and after you name some people it suggests other photos the person might be in. Supposedly you're training it to recognize people, but it does a great job of training me.

Posted By Cathy on 21st Mar 2011 at 3:57

I just came across the name of this problem today. I always thought it was part of my ADD, but it seems to be in addition to it and separate somehow. I usually tell people I meet at parties if it seems appropriate to do so. Most think they are relating by saying they don't remember names and I say me too.and it's OK until the next time when I don't know them at all. I'm always so embarrassed especially after multiple meetings. So glad I found this sight.

Posted By Angela on 8th Mar 2011 at 19:08

1.In a meeting, classroom, draw a plan of where everyone sits, with names. 2. Meeting just 1 or 2 new people, look for their most distinguishing feature or something permanent about their person, and make a mnemonic about it e.g. Ed's extra-big eyebrows, Diana's dimple. The effort of finding an alliterative 'title' for the person helps, though I have to write it down, ideally without them knowing, as it isn't always flattering! I never try more than 2 in a day, as I forget the lot otherwise. 3. ALWAYS tell new people I'm sorry I'm faceblind, so do please introduce yourself again when you next see me, that would be really helpful. People are fine about it, and often remember, so it helps avoid offence - though just for safety, I smile at practically everyone I meet. It's still very hard to manage,though.

Posted By Anna on 2nd Feb 2011 at 13:25

Thank you everyone for all this. I am just realising that my problem is not just a 'bad memory' which I also have! But it is more. It explains my dislike of parties, big social gatherings etc. There is always a fear I will do it again. I dont have it very seriously but when it happens - total non recognition of someone I really know quite (or even very) well - then I am mortified. Over the past year as I have come to terms with the problem as 'real' if I meet someone I like and think i may meet them at another social gathering, I try to always warn them that i may not recognise them and ask them to come up and remind me. This often helps me remember them too. I am sure I am worse when life is stressful. has anyone else noticed this?

Posted By Crissy on 21st Jan 2011 at 0:25

I have couple ways of coping with prosopagnosia that I haven't seen metioned here yet. First is jewelery, particularly wedding rings. I bet I could make a detailed sketch of wedding/engagement rings of every friend and coworker I have. :) Shoes too - I can recognize people from the knees down with amazing accuracy. I have a coworker who owns hundreds of pairs of shoes, and even if she is wearing a pair I have never seen before, I can now recognize her style in an instant. The other way I cope is to tell everyone I meet that I have prosopagnosia. And then I ask them to introduce themselves to me every time we meet, with their name and where we originally met. Some people are really amazing with this. One friend always says "Hey, it's Christopher! We met at the Hudson room, where we played Flux together." Even if I just saw hime the day before. Every time we met I give him a hug, because it is such a relief to 'know' who someone is. And the more he does it, the more others around him remember to do the same - it is wonderfully contagious. I figure prosopagnosia is a lifelong condition, and one of the easiest things I can do (for myself and my family/friends) is let people know about it, and what they can do to help. And heck, if everyone introduced themselves every time they saw each other - it would even help those who can't remember names. :)

Posted By Lisa on 19th Dec 2010 at 13:10

One final thought: I often find I can remember conversations almost in their entirety, word for word, but with absolutely no recollection of whom I had them with or even where.

Posted By Lisa on 19th Dec 2010 at 13:08

I use the Dick Tracy (or Batman) method: making caricatures of people. Many people dear to me would probably be offended if they knew how I keep track of people (e.g. Vader Hair; "Hey Arnold!" Head; Ghost Lady; etc. (It really embarrasses me to share any. :D) There are some famous people I can easily pick out (usually): Patrick Stewart, William Shatner, Barack Obama, George H.W. Bush, but even then I swing and miss sometimes. The ones who mess me up the worst are the "young and stereotypically pretty" famous people. Put a Jake Gyllenhaal, a Ben Affleck, a Matt Damon and a Mark Wahlberg in a bag and shake them up - I will swear they are all the same person. "The Departed" was a prosopagnosia nightmare to watch. I also can't tell your Taylor Hickses from your Carrie Underwoods. Unusual looking people have a great advantage with my recognition abilities. After years of being accused of a vast array of idiocy and snobbery, I've generally settled for the Spacey Yet Polite demeanor, and just warn people I am very bad with faces. (This often leads to. "I know! I have the same problem! I just can't remember anyone's names!" It really is NOT the same problem.) I work in a public library where a regular clientele comes in, and the times I work the circulation desk are hard because our regular circulation clerk knows everyone, it seems. I cope by saying (if they don't have their library card with them), "What name are you checking out under?" I do completely relate to people who have mentioned having a hard time with televised detective fiction. "Didn't that guy already die?" Easier when I read the book. :D

Posted By Marie on 10th Dec 2010 at 7:15

I have realised that my memory for names is better than for faces but have always been able to cope with recognising a large number of students after a short time-I did the test mainly because I have been interested in the different clues used by different ethnic groups and the effect on recognition of people with different ethnicity. The result of the test was a surprise to me.

Posted By Linda on 7th Dec 2010 at 22:36

I am still amazed that there is a name for this. I have always tried to cover the problem I have with recognizing people. I have been managing a restaurant for the last three years--it's a small intimate place with a loyal, consistent clientele so I do better than I could a lot of places. The problem is that BECAUSE the clientele is loyal, I am often in the position of having to greet someone as though I know them when I dont. I cant tell you how many times a customer has greeted me with great enthusiasm and even hugged me! but I dont know who they are. If I see customers on the street, I oftentimes cannot recognize them because they are not in the restaurant. It has been very embarassing and I have been very critical of myself. When I took the research test today, I got a 0%. I didnt recognize a single person on the test.

Posted By Joyce on 10th Nov 2010 at 15:45

I've been dealing with prosopagnosia all my life. For the most part, I recognize people by the context I find them in, and by their personality. "The happy guy near my area of the office" will generally be my boss for example. "The somber guy near my area" is my coworker Jim, and so on. I also find that I recognize motion very easily. I can often recognize someone at a distance just by looking at the way they walk. Still, I frequently don't know who people are, and I run into a lot of issues around that. Seeing the disappointment in people's faces. Finding that people think I don't like them or have a problem with them. Stuff like that. In any case, for the past year, I've been trying the strategy of launching into a long winded explanation of my condition to everyone I meet. Although tedious and annoying, it results in everyone knowing where I'm at with things. It's been really helping at my new job, where people that encounter me tell me who they are if I seem to be having trouble placing them. The fact that this happens with people that work right next to me, or that I talk to on a regular basis is what makes this odd to them, and several have thanked me for letting them know about my condition so that it doesn't bother them as much. My boss is considering helping me draft an email to the entire company about the issue, just to let people know.

Posted By Susanne on 9th Oct 2010 at 16:51

Is there some sort of training that you can do to improve your face memory? I tried everything and it`s really frustrating when I don`t recognise people. It`s hard to build or maintain a good social network this way because people might think that you are ignoring them. I find it difficult to tell people about my problem as well because they don`t seem to realise how serious it can be... most people just say... ohh that`s very common `I can`t recognise faces either` or some of them just don`t believe you and get offended if you don`t seem to recognise them. I make a huge effort to remember people`s clothes, hair, tatoos, make up, or anything just to be able to say hello on the street whereas I wouldn`t even recognise my own mother in an `unexpected place` ;)

Posted By dwain on 8th Oct 2010 at 3:24

I read somewhere that staring at someone for 4 seconds helps kick in the "face recognition software" in your head...I'm trying that, and then going back to it for 2 or 3 times per meeting. (I'm not sure how it'll work, though, since I've failed to recognize people that I spend hours with just the week before...).

Posted By Johanna on 4th Oct 2010 at 20:09

Suzanne, I can relate to what you are describing with recognizing people you know, but not those that I don't know well. It takes me a few times of interaction to recognize them and sometimes that is not enough. When it comes to series and movies I have problem with those who are darker and fail to follow the plot because I mix the actors up. How do all of you who have to meet many people in your job increase your chances to recognize them? I am a public figure in many contexts and do not know wether people who greet me have seen me on stage, seen my picture somewhere or if we have actually met. I lead people and the personal contact is important. I many times walk up to someone to make a connection and say 'Hello I don't think we have met before' whereas they tell me we have. This sometimes makes me avoid people I am unsure of which obviously do not help. Lately I have tried to explain to people and say that I often fail to recognize people and the response I get is a laugh and a 'yes we all do sometimes' at which I do not feel compelled to explain further. Does anyone have any suggestions of how to handle these situations?

Posted By Amara on 27th Aug 2010 at 11:38

Oh, well, and now I have a topic-related question myself: How you you deal with possibly threatening situations, like being alone at home, someone knocks, you open the door and a stranger stands in front of you with the clear expectation of being invited in. Or being alone at work, and someone you can't recognise enters your room as if he has any right to be there. (I had happen both, the first was someone I knew very well and it happened before I knew about faceblindness, the second was someone who as I learned later was psychologically instable and potentially dangerous, that happened recently, long after I learned about faceblindness). My first instinctual reaction still is throwing the stranger out (you can imagine the surprise of the first person at my initial hostile reaction ;-), later for that guy it was OK though I guess)..., but the strategy I would be aiming for as a more polite solution would be to ask the person to identify themselves and explain why I need that in case I should know them (even though I try to explain to people about it I can't tell literally everyone). But would this not be kind of an invitation to any crime? I mean, think about it from a criminals perspective: wow..., someone who can't point a finger at the picture or the person in the line at the police station and say: it was this guy... anyway, I can't think of a good solution to this dilema.

Posted By Amara on 27th Aug 2010 at 11:02

Just remembered another strategy... several in fact ;-): To make up for my lack of recognizing I try to remember personal details about people, our former meetings and so on, so that I at least can procude some kind of 'evidence' that I pay attention once the embarassing 'oh, I didn't recognize you'-moment is out of the way. Also I ask whoever happens to be next to me who others are (collegues, friends, family - that's most fun, because some of them are faceblind as well ;-)). With TV-shows/movies I tend to watch them alone at first, so that I can figure out who is who from context in private. Also I guess it helps that I prefer shows with few main characters and very visible characteristics like being a dog or klingon or roboter ;-). I would love the special subtitle-feature of name-tagging, too, though!

Posted By Amara on 27th Aug 2010 at 10:10

My main strategies are: To figure out the amount of people I can handle at the same time and only engage in private activities that meet these criteria somewhat. I always make very specific meeting arrangements and tend to be the earliest person there, so the others have to find me, and not vice versa. Never ever use anyones name, because it could be the wrong one! (not a strategy I like, but one I developed early on and can't seem to shake) My main strategy from day one though is: tell everyone about it, especially at places that count like work! That divides the responsibilities of recognizing somewhat.

Posted By Sally on 26th Aug 2010 at 21:57

I know exactly where you're coming from Suzanne. No one wants to watch films with me because I am continually asking who the character is. The other day I watched a film thinking the mother and daughter were the same person as they didn't appear on screen together until near the end and both had long brown hair. Rather than subtitles I would rather that a name hovered over their heads!

Posted By Suzanne on 26th Aug 2010 at 11:20

Does anyone else have a problem with following the plots of Detective shows on TV? When a new character comes on screen I often have to ask a family member if it's someone we've met already or someone new...and if a character changes their clothes I'm completely confounded!

Posted By Suzanne on 26th Aug 2010 at 11:14

I never knew I had a problem at all and thought I was just bad with faces until I read an article about "Face Blindness". I have no problem recognising close friends and family but I do struggle recognising people I know less well particularly if they've changed their hair style or hair colour and particuarly if I meet them in a place I don't associate with them. Only this week I met a teenage girl I've known all her life, in a place I wouldn't normally expect to see her, and I couldn't recognise her face at all. She had to say hello to me twice and then stood in front of me for about 20 seconds until I'd worked out who she was - during those 20 seconds it was as though her features swam around her face and then re-positioned themselves into the face of someone I knew. I was so embarrassed and sent a grovelling email to her mother who I know would never fail to recognise my teenage children wherever she met them. So, I do have a problem although it's not terribly severe. I recognise that I often rely on hair style and colour, body language and posture to recognise people. I know that if I meet someone I don't know very well in a place I don't expect to see them there's only a slim chance I'll recognise their face. If they make the effort to speak to me and I can only look at them blankly I apologise and tell them that I'm hopeless at recognising faces out of context and that they shouldn't take it personally. I tell myself that if they're offended it's really their problem not mine, but I can't help feeling embarrassed about it.

Posted By Judy on 26th Aug 2010 at 1:23

I'm glad somebody can explain why I never remembered a face. What I usually do is say "Hello" to everybody (I might have met him/her sometime in my life). The hard part is when they say my name and I don't have any idea of what their's is.

Posted By Sally on 25th Aug 2010 at 9:58

I seem to rely very heavily on colour - colour of clothes and also colour of facial skin, make-up etc. It doesn't always work - yeserday I parked my bike next to a man in a flourescent jacket in Sainsbury's car park as I thought he was the man who has been training me for the last couple of months who also has a fluorescent jacket. He was talking to someone else and after a while I thought he sounded a bit different and so stupidly blurted out, 'You're not Bob are you?'.

Posted By Steven on 25th Aug 2010 at 2:42

I participate in video conferences at work on a daily basis and have no idea who is sitting at the other side of the screen while other people greet everyone by name. I draw a U shape on my note pad and add circles around it to mark the positions of people in chairs and then as their names are mentioned I add their name next to it. I hope this helps someone else.

Posted By Katie on 25th Aug 2010 at 2:09

I have only recently figured out that this disorder is likely the root of what has been a confusing, decades long problem with not "remembering" people- & hurting alot of feelings in the process. A few instances have been truely mortifying, such as looking blankly at a client I had lunched with the previous day!

Posted By Peter on 25th Aug 2010 at 0:30

I try to remember likeness of faces with animals like cats, dogs, horses,apes, rhino's, camels, ferrets, etc. Horses and dogs are the best. But of course if they appear in a totally strange landscape I'm at a loss. I would like to participate in developing a new test for prosopagnosia, for the existing ones have in my opinion little to do with reality. I am a M.D.

Posted By Gavin on 24th Aug 2010 at 21:37

Similar to Susan, My facial recognition has improved as I've aged but I wonder if its because I've perhaps learned to "contextualize" the people I do meet with wider experience. I'm not subject to many social situations that I haven't, in some way, chosen to participate in. I'm aware that I'm recognizing individuals, less on a pattern of their physical face but more on an emotional response, their clothes, their recognition of me, the context we share and their voice. I haven't warned people of my problem. I think I just try to make more of an effort to find unique details to help identify people. It sounds like a terrible, dismissive, excuse that you can't recognize someone you have engaged with. I think perhaps warning people might be a positive step.

Posted By Susan on 24th Aug 2010 at 17:13

As a student nurse, years ago, I had a notebook and made a note of any strong facial features my colleagues or patients might possess; I shall use this again, since I shall be going back to nursing, following my husband's death, last October but I've found that, somehow, I'm getting better at 'learning' some faces more quickly(I can eventually remember most people but it takes time - and a lot of meetings - before I do!). I've also found that my brain works rather better than it did at 18, since I started studying with the Open University - maybe there's a connection there, somewhere? Whatever it is, I'm just grateful for it but I do still warn people about my problems - some laugh but most understand and cherfully remind me who they are if we meet somewhere, unexpectedly - and it's good to have a name for this thing,too!

Posted By Crystal on 24th Aug 2010 at 15:55

I rely very heavily on hairstyles,but obviously this falls down with any changes!! I failed to recognise my husband in the swimming pool as his hair had washed back... he had to wave and shout to me!

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