Do I Know You?

faceless_mask“Excuse me, I’m so sorry!”

You’ve just bumped into someone on the street, knocking the package in her hand to the ground.

You stoop to pick it up, but you do so quickly because you’re already late.

“Here you are.” You hand the package to her. She stares at you strangely.

“Again, I’m very sorry,” you apologize. As you turn away to hurry on, she calls out.


Reluctantly, you turn back to her, glancing hurriedly at your watch. Already twenty minutes late. Your wife is going to have a cow. You’re always late.

“I’m sorry,” you apologize to the woman again. “I’m meeting my family at the museum. Feeding our son’s obsession with dinosaurs,” you chuckle. “I really have to run. My wife hates when I’m late.”

To your surprise, the woman has tears in her eyes.

What the…??

“Every time this happens, it’s like the first time,” she whispers emotionally, her eyes boring into yours. “It still hurts, Josh…every time.”

“Daddy?” a young boy peeks from behind the woman’s legs. He looks up at you, his eyes wide, fearful.

You search the woman’s face, study her hair, her clothing. You reach out to touch the boy’s hair. It’s as soft and wispy as you remember.

You bow your head in shame. Again.

This is your family.


Can you imagine not recognizing your family?

Being face-to-face with them, and not knowing who they are? Looking right at them, but seeing complete strangers?

There are people who do this every day – many times a day, in fact.

From their morning cup of coffee to their second cup fifteen minutes later, these people forget what their families, their friends, and their coworkers look like. Repeatedly. All day long.

What could be worse than that?

How about looking in the mirror, and seeing a stranger staring back at you?

It’s called Prosopagnosia – or “face blindness” – and up to 10% of the population has it. It’s a neurological mystery in which the brain is unable to piece together information needed to recognize a collection of features as an individual’s face.


So, the next time someone you know doesn’t recognize you, don’t be insulted. Instead, try to see your face through their eyes.


Foreign Eyes Friday

6 thoughts on “Do I Know You?

    • Thank you very much for sharing these personal details. I became interested in prosopagnosia after meeting a woman with it in Paraguay. I had never heard of it before that, and watching her navigate through life was an eye-opener for me. No one can really imagine what it’s like to live this way on a daily basis. I so appreciate you sharing your personal experience here, and I pray that a treatment is found very soon.

    • No, you either inherit it or get it thru injury to a particular portion of the brain by way of hitting your head. There are cases of people – both young and old – who had concussions as the result of accidents or attacks, who awakened with prosopagnosia.

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