Woman Suffering From “Face Blindness” Can’t Even Recognize Her Own Face

Can you imagine looking in the mirror and not recognizing the person staring back at you? That’s what Lena Ash, a 29-year-old Russian woman faces every day. She suffers from prosopagnosia — a rare condition that makes it impossible to recognize faces, including her own. Lena only learned that she was suffering from the disorder last year. Even as a child, Lena had problems recognizing faces, and the neurologists she went to for headaches, low blood pressure, and nausea couldn’t figure out the cause. When she is talking to someone, Lena can see their face very clearly, but as soon as they leave her field of view, she forgets what they look like. While our brains are programmed to create a memory of people we meet, Lena's isn’t. She says she tries to focus on certain irreplaceable features — like noticeable moles, scars, tattoos, or crooked noses — and not on the face as a whole. For example, her husband with and without a beard looks like two completely different people to her. She has also taught herself to recognize people’s voices in order to tell them apart. Luckily, Lena has managed to maintain a good attitude about living with face blindness. Prosopagnosia has no cure or treatment, and sufferers can only rely on a series of techniques for improving the memory and fine motor skills in order to develop the hemisphere that's responsible for facial recognition.