It can happen to anybody: not recognizing somebody after already meeting them. Brad Pitt claims that his inability to remember is a condition called prosopagnosia, or face blindness.
“Nobody believes me!” the 58-year-old told GQ for the magazine’s August cover story. “I wanna meet another.”
Although not formally diagnosed with the condition, he had suspicions dating back to 2013, telling Esquire that people think he is being “egotistical” and “conceited” because he doesn’t remember them.
“But it’s a mystery to me, man. I can’t grasp a face and yet I come from such a design/aesthetic point of view,” he said.
Pitt has said that he is going to get tested for this condition. Below is a look at the disorder.
What is prosopagnosia?
Prosopagnosia is a disorder that affects facial perception, or the ability to recognize familiar faces.
There are two different types: acquired and developmental.
According to the National Health Service in the UK, acquired prosopagnosia occurs after a brain injury such as a stroke or other head injury.
Developmental prosopagnosia occurs without any brain damage. It “may have a genetic component and run in families,” per the NHS.
What causes it?
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, face blindness is thought to be caused by “abnormalities, impairment or damage” in the fusiform gyrus area of the brain. The region “plays important roles in object and face recognition,” per ScienceDirect.
It is not caused by memory loss, blindness or a learning disability, although it can be more common in those with autism compared to the general population.
How common is it?
Studies have shown that 1 in 50 people have some form of prosopagnosia, with developmental being the most common.
How is it diagnosed?
Brad Pitt has not undergone any formal testing. But when he does, it will likely involve testing his ability to recognize faces, which includes being shown a set of faces and later being asked to remember them along with being asked to judge a person’s age, gender or emotional expression.
The symptoms vary based on the type of prosopagnosia a person has and how severe it is.
- Inability to recognize or differentiate between faces of people they don’t know well consistently
- Struggling to identify a person in a different setting
- Inability to recognize the faces of loved ones (severe)
- Inability to recognize your own face (severe)
What is the treatment for prosopagnosia?
While there is no cure for this condition, those with acquired prosopagnosia can be retrained to use other clues to recognize faces.
NINDS suggests that those with developmental prosopagnosia can use compensatory strategies to better recognize faces.
Coping with prosopagnosia
Prosopagnosia is said to be socially crippling because people with the disorder avoid social situations and “feelings of depression are common,” according to the NHS.
Pitt said he uses it as an excuse to “stay at home.”
“You meet so many damned people,” he told Esquire. “And then you meet ’em again.”