Face Blindness

I was watching 60 Minutes on CBS today and they had a segment on prosopagnosia, better known as face blindness. This is a link to the article that sums up the show. This is a neurological condition that impairs a persons ability to recognize the face. In extreme cases they can not recognize their own parents, children of even themselves. The show interviewed people that had this condition and showed them pictures of people that were close to them or even pictures of themselves and they, in most cases, could not recognize the face. CBS talked about the social implications of this condition. These people were scared when they went to pick up their child from kindergarten and they couldn’t recognize their own child. They had to completely rely on their four or five year old to pick them, or they would chose to remember the outfit that their child was wearing! They interviewed a ten year old child who had this condition, and he talked about how hard it was to make friends. He could make great connections with children, but the next day when he came to school he could not recognize the child with whom he had made the connection. To intensify the problem he had the normal twenty five children in his classroom and was naturally making multiple connections in one day. The next day when students would approach him he would not be able to match the experience with the face. I can only imagine how hard it would be to make friends in a situation were children would see me as completely abnormal.   They said about 2.5% of the population suffers from some degree of this disorder. This implies that my high school school had about twenty people with this disorder. I am sure that most cases of this are acute, so I am assuming that these twenty people could recognize themselves and their families. Regardless, I do not know for sure. I can never truly put myself in that position but I know I would be incredibly self concious. As an educator I don’t know how I would help this student. I don’t know if there is really anything I could do.  Has anyone had any personal connections with this condition? How would you deal with it as an educator?

What was fascinating to me was the opposite of this condition; people whom they call “super recognizers”.  These are people who never forget a face. The woman they interviewed said that she had this condition to the point where someone could pass her on the street, and she could recognize them twenty years later when they were old and grey. She also talked about the social implications of this, how people would find her to be “stalker” like of “creepy”. I have never heard of these conditions and I find this to be incredibly compelling. I would love to know what you all think!

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