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What is prosopagnosia, the condition Brad Pitt says he has?

The 58-year-old actor told GQ Magazine that he believes he suffers with a condition known as face blindness, which as many as 1 in 50 people may have.

Update:
Brad Pitt claims he suffers with prosopagnosia
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Hollywood star Brad Pitt revealed in a recent interview that he believes that he has prosopagnosia, a neurological disorder which makes it difficult for the sufferer to recognise faces. The condition, often referred to colloquially as ‘face blindness,’ is thought to affect as much as 2% of the population according to Faceblind.org.

The 58-year-old told GQ that he often struggles to remember and recognise faces, something that has often caused problems in social settings. Pitt has not been formally diagnosed with the condition but admitted that it is a source of shame for him.

After revealing the condition in conversation with Ottessa Moshfegh, he said: “Nobody believes me… I wanna meet another [sufferer].”

What is face blindness?

The exact parameters of prosopagnosia, or face blindness, are still unknown but it is generally accepted to be an inability to identify a person’s face, even if they know the person very well. Despite the term ‘blindness,’ it is not a consequence of poor vision, but rather a difficulty with identifying people at first glance.

Typically humans have a built in ability to identify familiar faces almost instantly, with just a quick scan of facial features picking up the required detail to know who they are. Someone with prosopagnosia will often need more time to process that information, which can result in some awkward pauses in social situations.

What causes prosopagnosia?

The condition can be brought about by a head injury or similar trauma, but in most instances prosopagnosia sufferers are simply born with it. The former is known as acquired prosopagnosia, while the inherited condition is termed developmental prosopagnosia.

Acquired prosopagnosia is rare but can occur when the patient suffers an injury to areas of the brain that are associated with perception and memory, known as the occipital lobes and temporal lobes. In general sufferers are acutely aware when it happens because it affects how they are able to identify people, but it is sometimes less easy to identify if it happens in a child.

The second type of face blindness, developmental prosopagnosia, is more of a genetic condition which is not brought about by brain damage. It is thought that close to 1 in 50 people have this, although some who are born with it may not realise.

The severity can vary greatly between people so it is not always identified. One of the clearest signifiers is having family members who also suffer. Many people with the condition have at least one close family member who also has developmental prosopagnosia.

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