Prosopagnosia. They are “face blind” — they find it very difficult to recognize faces.
Actor Brad Pitt (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Fight Club,” and numerous other movie roles) recently disclosed that he has this fairly uncommon condition. He shares this trait with neurologist and author Oliver Sacks (Awakenings, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat). Prosopagnosia is also the central theme of a new novel by Diane Winger called — appropriately — Faces.
Although scientists believed for some time that face blindness was extremely rare and only caused by brain trauma, it is now thought that 2 – 3% of the population have this disorder with an impaired ability to recognize faces, and that it can be a developmental problem. The disorder does not impact other types of visual or intellectual functions. In Winger’s novel, the protagonist acquires prosopagnosia following a rock climbing accident. In real life, Winger labels herself as “mildly to moderately” face blind, and believes her condition is congenital, not due to any trauma.
“My primary goal with this book is to provide the reader with an interesting, intriguing, and entertaining story, but I also hope to raise awareness and understanding of prosopagnosia with Faces,” Winger explains.
Winger is the co-author, along with her husband Charlie, of several guidebooks related to outdoor recreation. While she has been writing nonfiction for many years, this is her first published work of fiction. Faces is available in paperback and for e-readers from Amazon.com and other book outlets.