In a recent interview, Brad Pitt revealed he believes he suffers from “face blindness”. The Oscar-winning actor is certain he has prosopagnosia, a condition whereby a person cannot recognise people’s faces, though he remains undiagnosed.
“Nobody believes me!” he sighed to GQ. “I wanna meet another.”
So, what exactly is prosopagnosia? The term refers to the cognitive disorder of face perception in which a person struggles to recognise faces, including one’s own features.
Dr Marianne Trent, clinical psychologist and founder of Good Thinking Psychological Services, explains that prosopagnosia has two causes – one developmental and one acquired.
“There have been some studies suggesting that as many as one in every 50 people would fulfil the diagnostic criteria for prosopagnosia. However, many people will never realise that they are experiencing something different than the other 49 people!” she shared. “This could be because people who are on the autistic spectrum are more likely to have the symptoms and people on the autistic spectrum often have difficulties appreciating that others see the world differently and so wouldn’t necessarily realise it wasn’t commonly experienced by others.”
The symptoms of face blindness can be difficult to diagnose, though there are some key signs to look out for, such as struggling to follow films or TV shows with many characters.
“It can cause understandable anxiety for people but making it more widely known helps improve understanding and reduce stigma. Some sufferers ask people to remind them of their name when they chat out of context,” the expert continued. “Others ask partners or trusted friends to gently act like royal advisors by whispering information about the person they are chatting to, for example, ‘It’s Barbara, Theo’s Mum from school!'”
Unfortunately, there is no cure for prosopagnosia. Yet, people may be able to come up with other strategies to help them navigate everyday life.
“These may include remembering the colour of someone’s coat, remembering the person they are meeting has a beard, or even that they’ve agreed they’ll wear a certain hat, tie or lapel badge to help them stand out more easily,” she added.