Prosopagnosia (prosopagnosia, or face-blindness) is a perceptual disorder in which a person is not able to recognize the faces of other people, even the closest ones, such as friends, family members, work colleagues. Interestingly, the ability to identify objects or, say, animals while fully preserved.
The first more or less complete descriptions of cases of prosopagnosis are found in the works of the English neurologist John Hughlings Jackson (John Hughlings Jackson) and the French psychiatrist Jean-Martin Charcot (Jean-Martin Charcot) in the middle of the XIX century. However, the term "prosopagnosia" (dr. Greek. prosopon - “face”, agnosia - “not to recognize”) was introduced into circulation in 1947 by the German neurologist Joachim Bodamer. He diagnosed an unusual case of a 24-year-old patient, who, though he survived a severe gunshot wound to the head, stopped recognizing not only his relatives and colleagues, but himself.
Later, other cases of prosopagnosia were also described by practicing psychiatrists and neurologists, which they attributed, as a rule, to brain damage or stroke. However, modern experts argue that this disorder can also be hereditary in nature (in this case it is incurable) and be in the nature of a short-term syndrome that occurs as a result of severe fatigue or overstrain.
If you believe the latest data, then prosopagnosis occurs in 2% of the world's population, which in fact represents a rather awesome figure - 140 million people. In other words, out of a hundred at least two are not able to recognize even their own spouse or child. According to scientists, about 10% of the population is subject to mild forms of prosopagnosis. It can be expressed in bad memory on the person as a whole. For example, a person constantly confuses the faces of famous actors, although by names he may know them as relatives.
Despite the fact that so far the nuances of this disease are the subject of research and controversy of many specialists around the world, today the following classification of prosopagnosia can be found in textbooks on neurology. The first type of disease is apperceptive. This is a hereditary form in which a person is not able not only to distinguish and memorize faces, but generally make any judgments on them, say the age of a person, his field, race, etc. The second type is associative: the patient can accurately judge about a man by his face, but he cannot determine with certainty whether he is familiar with him or not.
Today, psychologists suggest that many people with prosopagnosis, deliberately silent about their illness. In the same way, like most color blind people, they prefer not to advertise their color perception.
Unable to distinguish relatives and friends from completely strangers by persons, patients with prosopagnosis rather successfully use other criteria for identification: they recognize their relatives and colleagues by voice, gait, gestures or special signs. As far as it is sometimes difficult and emotionally difficult, it can be judged, for example, by the 32-year-old Swede, Cecilia Berman, who suffers from a congenital form of prosopagnosis.