I don't think I have what this woman has to the same degree, but I have a condition which causes me to fail to remember social and physical situations in any easily recallable way which results in similar problems.
I find that if I learn a little bit about someone when I meet them it can help a bit, as it anchors the name to something in my memory. Otherwise, just being honest feels best: "Hey, I recognize you, but I'm terrible with names... what's your name again?" Works alright whether I've been introduced to them in the past or not.
After the initial interaction I can then make any additional notes I think might help in remember relevant information about the person.
I don’t keep any of this info, afterwards I’ll either know their name from repeat interactions and delete it as unneeded, or not need it anyway, and delete it or throw it out.
Try to repeat the persons name in conversation a few times, just slip in in there.
For instance, if they say their name is Charles, respond with "So Charles, how's your day been so far?".
Not only does it help you remember their name, you're also more personable.
Since I've started consciously doing this, it's helped a lot.
I'm terrible with names. It's entirely possible for me to meet someone and know practically their entire life story, but not remember their name.
It can come off weird to some people, but their name would be forgotten in seconds otherwise, so I've decided it's a worthwhile method.
But in other situations the repartition method has and does work really well too. Also, immediately introducing the new person to someone else works strongly too.
I want to do something similar to this, but haven't really nailed down how it would work ('hi nice to meat you IanCal! Could I, uh... take a photo of you?')
The difficulty is remembering until I would get a chance to do it.
In “Orphan Black”, It wasn’t until very far in that I realised Rachel was also a clone; without the narrative clue, I just had no idea.
1 : have you two met?
(2, 3 indicate no)
1 to 2 : this is 3, she's a number too
1 to 3 : this is 2, he's prime
That's self important people thinking they can demand attention by simply existing.
There's no either/or in the kind of situation. It isn't EITHER "you did recognize me and avoided me on purpose because you hate me, and we're enemies now" OR "you have a debilitating disorder and are blameless" because that puts the recognizer on trial for a crime, in a world where failing to kiss the ring breaks the law.
Truly, it's not a crime to blow past people while you're in a hurry, and the enemies your friend made are simply demanding assholes.
I've had the inverse happen, where I see someone's evil twin doppelganger, stare hard at them, walk over, and then... Oh! It wasn't them, it's just a total stranger.
Recognition and social grace don't have hard rules. Same goes for being late to work. If you have some dick boss who fires people for failing to have their ass in the chair by 9:01 AM, better to break that rule hard and often up front, and find out that the boss is tyrranical overlord, and get fired in a week, than live on for years with the spectre of doom hanging over your head.
I don't know what your situation is, but my sons just don't use the phone. I handle all phone calls.
I'm so used to us just side stepping such issues that I have trouble imagining feeling obligated to connect a certain way. Some people prefer email. Some people prefer texting. Etc.
I don't have full-on face blindness. I do recognize the faces of people I see a lot. But I still struggle to remember people's names, especially if I don't see them every day.
I also noticed that many of the anxieties described by the author were projected and not materialized. She was afraid of how people would react and how she would feel in awkward situations, but when it finally happened and she admitted her condition, it went fine. Shyness and social anxiety have an element of self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you take this idea, that facial recognition is a modular specialization that most humans have inherited at birth (such that it can be added or subtracted from a person's instinctive skills, leaving everything else more or less untouched), and cross it over to other species, I'd take a wild guess that this is the missing piece in animals that fail to recognize themselves in mirrors.
Comparing elephants and dolphins with dogs and cats, it's tempting to contemplate that while dogs and cats can become familiar with us, they're likely face blind. Elephants and dolphins, while capable of passing mirror self recognition tests to a certain degree, are probably not as adept, because they lack the same socialization demands that have intensely pressured humans for a couple thousand years.
I have to figure in earlier periods of human history, an inability to recognize individuals, especially in similarly peopled enclaves might have been supremely deadly. Not just boss-in-the-elevator deadly (as mentioned in the article), but literally stab-you-in-the-back deadly.
So much so, that we aren't born with other skills like capable of walking directly after being birthed, like other animals, but for the most part, by age three, if we can recognize faces, we can pick our parents out of a line up.
We know literacy and written language is a hard driver of civilization. I wonder how much, the innate capacity for human facial recognition plays into the ability to read text? It seems like dyslexia is related to the degree of rendomization of the pattern of receptors in the eyes, but facial recognition seems strongly bound to processing and memory.
Is it a prevailing trait that predates history, or is the capacity to record history, and history's emergence and fidelity concurrent with the prevalence of human facial recognition as almost pure instinct?
Furthermore, imagine a world where the selective pressure is removed, and the trait is replaced by an augmented reality product, a device that recognizes people for you. How easily ruled would those people of the future be?
Running isn't innate, we learn to do it. Most children do it. But some people lack the apparatus, some are just habituated against it, some are impaired in other ways. And, running is a defining characteristic of humans. (It's not a perfect analogy but I think it fits)
Prosopagnosia appears to be different from other
neurological memory problems because it doesn’t cause
any other issues with memory and isn’t always caused by
brain damage — as in my case, it can be developmental
But, yes, you need that part of your brain to be functional to start with as a prerequisite.
We've learned lots of tidbits over the years that help him feel okay about it. For example, normal people are more reliant on context than they realize and can fail to recognize someone out of uniform or met someplace different than the norm.
For example, see Person Swap:
Super recognisers are able to remember faces very well and score high on the Glasgow Face Matching Test.
Now, I can't remember people who I saw a week ago; nearly everyone looks familiar.
A bigger issue is that I do not remember names at all; I remember faces and can tell you context ('we were in a bookshop in Utrecht, I was holding an ocaml book') but I cannot remember a name of anyone unless I regularly meet and talk with them. Even when I did work close with people; their faces stay, their names go. It's very weird because I have a good memory otherwise (I remember most telephone numbers I ever had to remember for instance) but names are just complete blanks. Human names, movie character names, movie names, song names, band names; they all are not there when I try to recall them, while I can basically recite the first Pascal program I wrote.
Strange and embarrassing sometimes; I recognize someone immediately and then have to say 'he! how are you and how is your guitar playing going?' (remembering all the context besides the name). My wife has the opposite; she has the cannot recognize faces but remembers all names.
Edit: my skill came in handy when we ran a dating site to get abusers off; I remembered when I saw someone before and removed them again. I can imagine it would work(ed/AI) well in law enforcement.
She had some autoimmune diseases and believed/had read up that her face blindness was likely an effect of the chronic pain she dealt with.
My wife was the first one to notice I might have this condition (and yes it has happened more then once that I don’t recognize her). This is despite the fact that I have a BS in psychology and had read a lot about face blindness in university. It just never occurred to me that I might have this. Those awkward moments I mentioned earlier, I usually blamed on me not paying attention, being stupid, shy or something else.
I know nothing about computer vision.
When it detects a new face, add it to the "seen faces" list, and let the user go back though that (sorted most recent at the top) whenever they like, to add names and maybe a short note like "met at party in LA". So you have to remember their name yourself but only momentarily until you can enter it into the local DB.
Whenever that face is detected again, it shows the info.
That way you can skip Internet connectivity on the device entirely.
I’d like to know just so I can be more sensitive in the future. I’d have never thought it would be a problem and would have asked way too many questions. Is this unique to this case or something I should avoid in general?
1) The medical details of my life aren't any of your business. And people tend to let their curiosity cross those lines. They don't do it deliberately, and it doesn't bother everyone. But it is absolutely personal.
2) When we do get questions, we get the same questions all the time. To be blunt, I get tired of answering them.
3) For my particular problems, I have a pile of symptoms and things that trigger them, but no formal diagnosis of anything (even after years of doctors). I just don't like to get into it because once people dig in, they start trying to help. Try this herb, try this pill, see my doctor, etc. They mean well. And they really think they are suggesting things I haven't already done. But all it really does is rekindle old frustrations.
So everyone is different. Many people won't have my obvious bitterness from #3. Some people are fine with questions. But you never know. We are all different people. So I'd recommend not asking questions. But at the same time, that doesn't mean to avoid the subject. There is a nice balance where you just talk about the direct impact it has on the current situation without turning it into a huge conversation. And if you get to know someone well enough, just ask them directly if they mind questions.
One day we both sat down in class next to the face blind kid. Face blind kid went out to the bathroom. lookalike and I swapped seats and exterior clothes (jacket, watch etc). Hilarity ensues.
I have a small bit of difficulty with faces that my ex-wife made me aware of. Since then, if I don’t recognize someone I may say, “Sorry, I’m bit bad at faces,” and
this seems to go over well. I also sometimes say this to cut short conversations about “who my kids look like.”
(There's the bizarre phenomenon, which people other than me have reported, how some people seem to consistently resemble photos of themselves, while others don't so much: they're almost a different person in photos. I think this phenomenon may also have to do with the face in action, but I'm just speculating wildly.)
> There's the bizarre phenomenon, which people other than me have reported, how some people seem to consistently resemble photos of themselves, while others don't so much: they're almost a different person in photos.
I'm also just speculating wildly, but this might have something to do with (monoscopic) photography removing depth cues, which is also a factor in the phenomenon of "the camera adds ten pounds". Different lighting and some approaches to makeup and clothing can exaggerate or diminish this effect.
There used to be a great face blindness test online where it first showed you a bunch of full pictures of heads to memorize, then for the quiz it showed cutouts of just the face. I had no idea that I was relying on all these non-face features until they were dramatically removed for that test. (Which I bombed.)
I did cheat a little bit on the first one by looking up their names on IMDB, because I can usually better remember which movie they were in and what role they played, than the name of the actor.
The random noise made it harder, but if you squint and move your head around while looking at it, you can remove a lot of noise, it's a nice little "analog" trick for situations like that.
But 34%.. Do you think you suffer from prosopagnosia? Or was there something with the test that made it extra hard for you?
I once watched Up in the Air and had to ask at the end which one was George Clooney. (In my defense, I had previously seen him in Syriana, where he had a beard. Hair and facial hair are the crutches I tend to use to recognize people.) Needless to say, on the Famous Faces test I had trouble with anyone less memorable than, say, Barack Obama.