View Full Version : Trouble recognising faces

26th Nov 2006, 16:05
I've always had major problems recognising faces, even people with whom I've worked for years if I only see them briefly every couple of months. I always thought it was just me being an idiot or not concentrating properly, but I read an article in the New Scientist today about prosopagnosia - an inability to recognise faces. Apparently it's a condition which varies in severity (some people can't recognise their own loved ones, or even their own reflection) and is more common than you'd think.

I have compensated for my inability to recognise faces by using other cues, such as clothing, hairstyles, body posture etc. Can lead to embarrassing situations though. No problem with my eyesight now, but did have poor vision from birth to about the age of 12.

Doesn't affect any other recognition - I can easily distinguish types of car, plane etc.

Anyone else have this problem? If so do you compensate in other ways?

tony draper
26th Nov 2006, 16:52
Yer I am terrible at recognising peeps as well,led to some embarrasing situations at times,great with voices though, recognise voices ok.

Loose rivets
26th Nov 2006, 17:22
It's very interesting that you should have had the early period of your life with poor eyesight. It used to be thought that the first four years was hyper-critical eyesight wise, but now there is some argument that the brain will compensate for the missing hard wiring. I tend towards thinking the first is correct.

I was aware of the former, when I finally decided to ‘operate' on my 20 month old son's duct. The medical profession had tried five different types of antibiotic, but failed to notice that the tear-duct (drain) was not evident. He was not able to use that eye at all. (After a year of one eye being crusted up, he was fine within a week.)

I met an American in England who has been mentioned in Science magazines. He was working on a floppy CD and was or about to become a PhD. He could not recognise his wife...at all.

I'm just the opposite. Faces okay, names.....lost in a grey blur.

26th Nov 2006, 17:24
I'm terrible when I meet someone who is not as you normally see them. They come up to you and say hello and you have no idea who they are until a certain word or phrase falls into place and the penny drops. It's like the old addage "I didn't recognise you with your clothes on";) !!

tony draper
26th Nov 2006, 18:16
"I remember your name perfectly, I just can't think of your face"
William Spooner.

26th Nov 2006, 18:24
I'm the same as Loose, can remember faces very well, just can't remember the name that goes with the face.:(

26th Nov 2006, 18:53
I'm a very poor 'witness' - I can't readily recall or describe the appearance of people that I've seen briefly (or even relate what clothing a friend or relative was wearing). I struggle to identify folk 'not in their usual environment' - such as shop-assistants (even to a young lady who works in the hairdressers that I attend). I'm better off with dogs - I recognise people by their dogs. It's not an eyesight thing (I've had excellent eyesight until needing reading glasses due to advancing age).

26th Nov 2006, 20:46
At last - I'm not alone!

And I always thought I just have a bad memory for names (I have that - too). With most people I'm all right (appart from not remembering their name for ages) - but some people I always tend to "mix up" - thinking it's P1 instead it's P2 - though they might not look anything alike. I guess they might have similar "cues" for me like movement or speech... :rolleyes:

Now - places, routes or such is a different story... No problem with that... I always tend to remember the "unimportant" info and forget the important things :(

26th Nov 2006, 20:58
I often forget names and faces, especially if it was a brief initial meeting. Never forget a dog's name, which can be awkward when you greet the dog by name and then have to ask for owner's name!

26th Nov 2006, 23:23
Same problem and it has caused me some grief at work.I can remember names, clothing, mannerisms etc, but if shown the face without everything else I associate that person with I cannot for the life of me remember who they are. I have turned up for court (currently...for 3 more weeks anyway, a policeman) and known EVERYTHING about the case and have been looking to see if the defendant has turned up and been getting ready for an early dismissal only to realise that the person has been sat there all along and I have walked past them several times. The change in clothes is what does it for me. If they wear a suit they could be anybody!.

26th Nov 2006, 23:45
I am so happy that I am NOT alone....:)

I recognize people and remember their names only after I see their dogs. Many days,I can't even remember what I had for breakfast or lose my car in parking lots but when I see a working Border Collie,I could easily recall their pedigrees for 15-20 generations. :eek:

27th Nov 2006, 01:01
Haven't we met somewhere before?

I recognize faces, no matter how briefly I knew the person from even years before. I can't remember their names though. I once spotted one of my teachers and approcahed him. It was only as I aboput to speak to him that I realized that the only name I could recall was "Bubbles".

So I just called him "Bubbles" and he was chuffed to death at the reminder of his nickname... Phew!

27th Nov 2006, 12:51
I have a problem recognising faces. Apart from the fact that I think the world revolves around me, I think my problem is that I recognise faces descriptively instead of pictorially. Consequently I continually bump into people who say "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!" and I'm sure I have never met them before.

Actually that was supposed to be serious. People say hello and I have no idea, or what's worse, when ever I start a new job, I'll always get two people mixed up, who, when I eventually sort them out, are very individual, but if you were to describe them, the descriptions would be similar.

I also recognise people by context, so if I see them out of context, like old work people in the mall, I have no idea who they are.

27th Nov 2006, 13:10
I have the opposite problem - I have an ability to recall minute details from long past meetings, a face will trigger the opening of a dossier in my head that has been closed for years.

A typical scenario is the formal intro, followed by me saying 'we've met before....' I can remind people I only met for ten minutes, twenty years ago where we met, what they were wearing, what we talked about. It really freaks people out!
I never did a days swotting in my life for exams. I could always recall all my lectures even down to the jokes. I could pretty much transcribe a lecture onto an exam paper. I'd hear the lecturer talking in my head.

On the downside, I cannot do any arithmetic at all (in the traditional way) in my head. I often completely forget what I'm saying half way through sentences. Tell me your name, and I won't be able to recall it five seconds later. I'm all ROM and no RAM.

tony draper
27th Nov 2006, 13:34
My biggest problem was working on large construction sites,as contractors we were obliged to attend weekly the ritual beer and sarnies meeting with architects consultants site managers and such, there to report our progress or lack thereof,these chaps would invariabl regard meeting days as a legitimate half day off,and would attend in suits ties white shirts toting brief cases ect, all ready to buggah off to the golf club when the meeting broke up,so when a few days later someone would approach one clad in hard hat green wellies sheepskin coat and say "hello tony did you manage to get that problem sorted",one never had clue who any of these people were or what the **** they were talking about fortunatly one's mate would generaly whisper in one's shell like ,"thats the site forman, you were at a meeting with him yesterday"

27th Nov 2006, 19:31
This is all music to my ears. I had a humiliating experience a couple of weeks ago. My landlord (whom I've only met maybe twice in seven years) came round in the morning to check out some building work that needed doing. He told me that his son would come round in the afternoon with a builder. Sure enough, later on that day, he turned up with the builder, and I mentioned that I was speaking to his dad earlier. Then came the bewildered looks and the terrible feeling I'd said something odd. The penny dropped and I realised it was actually my landlord standing in front of me and not his son. They must be separated by about 25 years. My wife, who was in the room at the time couldn't believe it. I just mumbled "Oh I'm sorry, I was a bit confused...."

It makes me cringe just thinking about it.

No problem remembering anything else! It's like my memory puts a blur over the facial details, and leaves everything else pretty clear. Strangely, this can even happen if I deliberately study the face of someone new so I don't forget.:(