Brad Pitt suffers from “face blindness”. Here’s what that means

Share on Pinterest
Actor and film producer Brad Pitt has revealed he has prosopagnosia, a rare condition that makes it difficult to recognize faces. Amy Sussman/Getty Images
  • Brad Pitt recently revealed that he is living with “face blindness”, also known as prosopagnosia, a condition that prevents him from recognizing faces.
  • Experts say the condition can be socially disabling and may run in some families.
  • They also say there are coping mechanisms people can learn to help manage life with the condition.

Speaking to GQ, actor Brad Pitt recently admitted he’s been living with a rare condition – one that an internationally acclaimed movie star might find very troublesome.

He told the magazine he thought he had prosopagnosia, also known as “face blindness.”

Pitt said he had trouble remembering new people or recognizing their faces. Never officially diagnosed, he fears it has led people to believe he is aloof, aloof, unapproachable and self-centered.

“Nobody believes me,” Pitt told the interviewer, and it’s not hard to see why.

However, as unusual as it may sound, prosopagnosia is a real-life condition that can present unique challenges to those who live with it.

Dr. Alex Dimitriu, dual board certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine and founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine, as well as BrainfoodMD, told Healthline that this condition results from abnormalities or damage to part of the right side of the brain. called the fusiform gyrus.

It is a fold in the brain that coordinates neural systems responsible for controlling facial perception and memory.

“[Prosopagnosia] It has been shown to affect up to 2% of the general population,” Dimitriu said.

He explained that people with prosopagnosia have trouble recognizing faces as a whole, so they can identify them.

“They see all parts of the face, but cannot combine them into one face for recognition,” he said, and pointed out that “not being able to recognize faces can have social implications important”.

According to Dr. Salman Azhar, a neurologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, there are two types of this disorder.

“One is developmental, meaning they’ve had it since infancy and it’s not caused by injury,” he explained. “Then there’s another type that can come later because they have a brain injury or a stroke or even Alzheimer’s disease to some extent.”

Azhar said Brad Pitt likely had the developmental form of this condition.

“He always had this difficulty recognizing faces,” he said. “So he sees the face, but he doesn’t have the ability to connect it to who that face is.”

“In developmental prosopagnosia, there is no positive MRI,” Azhar noted. “You can’t do an MRI and see there’s something wrong with the brain. In strokes and brain damage, of course, you can.

When asked if there is a cure, Azhar said no, but there are ways around it.

“You can develop a sort of ‘catalogue’ or list of, say, your wife’s face,” he said. “She’s got brown hair, she’s got freckles on her nose, an oblong face, and you kind of tick off those categories to know ‘she’s my wife’.

Famed neurologist Oliver Sacks, dubbed the “poet laureate of medicine,” spoke with CNN in 2011 about living with prosopagnosia.

To highlight his inability to recognize faces, Sacks showed a photo of the iconic Elvis Presley – whom he couldn’t identify.

“I don’t know who that is,” he said, and admitted that looking in a mirror, “Sometimes I don’t recognize myself.”

He told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta that he had the condition all his life. He suspects that in his case it is genetic since his brother also lives with prosopagnosia.

“Even Brad Pitt said people got the impression he was distant, because of his difficulty recognizing familiar faces,” Dimitriu said.

He added that people with prosopagnosia might avoid socializing because of their inability to recognize faces and their fear of talking to the wrong person or misidentifying someone.

“In many cases, it might be easier to avoid the situation than trying to figure out who the individual is,” Dimitriu said.

According to National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), development prosopagnosia seems to run in some families.

The institute pointed out that “some degree” of prosopagnosia is often present in children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome, and may be the cause of impaired social development in this group.

“It can be a very socially disabling syndrome,” Azhar confirmed.

There are resources online that may help you if you or a loved one is affected by this condition.

First, there is a Facebook group aptly called “Prosopagnosia”, where members offer support and share information and experiences.

You can also visit prosopagnosiaresearch.org and download a PDF of coping strategies to facilitate social interactions.

Additionally, there are self-tests available, like this one, on openpsychometrics.org, which is called the Exposure-Based Facial Memory Test.

Brad Pitt recently revealed that he is living with “face blindness”, also known as prosopagnosia, a condition that prevents him from recognizing faces.

Experts say the condition can be socially disabling and may run in some families.

They also say there are coping mechanisms people can learn to help manage life with the condition.

Leave a Reply