Face Blindness

Face Blindness

Sunday, May 6, 2007
| John 13:31-35

Prosopagnosia is a disorder that makes it very difficult to recognize faces, even familiar ones. Sometimes, this same disorder is present in the church.

Two full-face photos: One of Bono, and one of Madonna.

How do you tell these two celebrities apart?

You’re thinking, “Don’t be silly! Nobody’d ever take those two for look-alikes.”

True — for most of us. But for some, about one in every 50 people, distinguishing faces is difficult if not impossible. These people suffer from a documented disorder called prosopagnosia (´präs•R•pag´nRzh•y), but because that’s such a mouthful, it is often referred to as “face blindness.”

Cecilia Burman, 38, who lives in Stockholm, is one such sufferer. She can barely describe her mother’s face and struggles even to pick out her own face in photos. She continually loses friends because when they encounter Cecilia on the street, she doesn’t recognize them, and so she ignores them. They conclude that she’s stuck up or too self-centered to say hello, but in fact, they look like strangers to her. Prosopagnosiacs can see eyes, noses and mouths as well as anybody else can, but somehow they lack the ability ...

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