Prosopagnosia: What is the face blindness condition that Brad Pitt says he has

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Brad Pitt opened up in an interview about his self diagnosis of the condition called prosopagnosia. The condition, also known as “face blindness” is defined as a condition where an individual is not able to recognize people’s faces. 

In an interview with GQ, Pitt, who has not yet been formally diagnosed, shared that it has caused problems for him in different social settings and leaves him fearful that people think “that he’s remote and aloof, inaccessible, self-absorbed.” He also said that no one believes that he has the condition, and he wants to meet someone else who shares his struggle. 

What is prosopagnosia caused by? 

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, prosopagnosia is caused by abnormalities, damage or impairment to a part of the brain called the right fusiform gyrus which controls facial perception and memory. The site also says that the condition can run in families and is often apparent in children who have autism and Asperger’s syndrome.  

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The condition can be caused by a number of factors including stroke, a traumatic brain injury or from certain neurodegenerative diseases. Sometimes, it can be caused by nothing at all and people are simply born with it without any other brain damage present. 

Pitt’s condition, prosopagnosia causes him to struggle to recognize people’s faces.
((Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

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What is an example of prosopagnosia? 

It is fairly common for an individual to not be able to put a name to a face from time to time. For people with prosopagnosia, that problem is more than a rare occurrence and something that happens all the time. People who have prosopagnosia sometimes cannot even recognize their family members or their friends. 

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, there are different levels of the condition depending on the severity. Some people only have trouble recognizing familiar faces while some cannot tell the difference between unknown faces. 

There are others who cannot recognize their own face or some may not be able to tell the difference from a face and an object. 

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How do I know if I have prosopagnosia? 

The main symptom of the condition is the inability to recognize faces. This happens with people in person or people seen in pictures. People with prosopagnosia also have a hard time describing an individual and what they look like to someone else. In order to diagnose someone with the condition, test can be administered to an individual that assess face recognition skills, such as memorizing new faces and recognizing them later.  

Pitt has not been officially diagnosed with prosopagnosia. 

Pitt has not been officially diagnosed with prosopagnosia. 
(Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

Can it be cured? 

Right now, there is no cure for prosopagnosia. Some treatments that help people with the condition put on focus on trying to come up with different ways to recognize people beyond their just their facial features. 

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This could be through listening to a person’s voice, picking up on their mannerisms and focusing on verbal cues a person gives. 

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