Blind to the face

Recognising other people by decoding the subtle contours of their face is a complicated task that we take for granted. But imagine if all faces looked the same and you couldn’t tell whether someone was a stranger or your mother. Welcome to the world of the face-blind.

Prosopagnosia, the technical term for face-blindness, is an unusual condition the neurologist Oliver Sacks described in his bestselling book: The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat.

Those with this condition are often no different from the rest of us in every other way. Because of this it is easy for people to go through life without realising there is an aspect of their perception that is quite unusual.

About the author


Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog. His latest book is "Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick". You can follow PsyBlog by email, by RSS feed, on Twitter and Google+.

Published: 5 December 2004

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