Monday, June 6, 2011

If I Don't Say Hi, I'm Not a Snob! I'm facially blind!


Okay, backstory: I grew up in a family that did not talk about stuff. They just kept their shit to themselves. I grew up with the ability to perform psychometry (reading objects with touch and knowing about others who have encountered that object), I also had synethesia in relation to time (storing days of the week, times of the day, months, years outside my body in a 3-D grid). I never knew that no one else does these things. I just figured they didn't talk about it.

Yet one more oddity plagues me. Yeah, I'm a freak, I know, but I'm a lovable freak, dammit!

I have facial amnesia.

I cannot picture anyone's face in my mind, not even my own, my son's, family, friends, my ex... Doesn't matter. I can't picture them! If I see them, I recognize them, but until I see myself in a mirror or someone else I know, I cannot conjure up even a clue of what they look like. My son, for example. I know he has brown eyes and a broken nose, but, I cannot put a face together in my mind to imagine him. Even my own face I look at every time I brush my teeth or wash my face--completely blank in my mind's eye.

Sometimes, it's an embarrassing issue. I ran into a dear friend after years apart in a store I never would have imagined she would shop at. I stared right at her in the checkout line and she went home insulted that I saw her and didn't say "hi." Oops! How do you explain, "I didn't recognize you outside of your usual environment"?

I can recognize someone outside of the usual place if I am expecting to meet them somewhere we haven't been before, but if I walk into a restaurant and you live across town, but happen to be in my part of town and I see you, I will not know you. The exception will be when you approach and say "hi" and I blink a few moments, placing the voice and then recall who you are because you have frizzy blond hair or a beard.

It's a weird affliction. I don't know how many people have this, but I'd be curious to know. As you can imagine, I was miserable working in the retail industry. I'd put someone in a dressing room with clothes and if they came out and walked around the store looking for more shirts to try on, I'd approach them as if they were new to the store. I had to learn to look for price tags dangling.

So, if I run into you where I don't expect to see you, help me out. Speak first!

ADDENDUM:


(my attempt at a self portrait. Honestly, if you asked me to do a portrait of anyone from memory, this is how they'd look. har har)

15 comments:

  1. That would be weird. If that was me I would go insane, then I would think of everyone and draw them like I remember them. Would be interesting art.

    Also, your background annoys me.

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  2. Runewake2. I change the background a few times a day, so never fear, it won't be here long. I never knew any different. It doesn't occur to one to talk to others about how they envision faces, so I never knew that people could pull up "photos" in their heads of people. I did art for a time and I found portraiture to be a specialty of mine and that's because I would study the face in great detail, trying to memorize it as I paint it and still I would walk away not able to visualize the person. Whenever I come onto my blog and see my own face, I go "that's what I look like?" I never know if I like it or not. I can't compare it because I can't envision other people to compare it with. If I had a picture of me against a picture of Nicole Kidman or someone, I could probably figure out how I stand looks wise, but since I don't know any comparisons, I figure I'm very plain. I love having pictures of loved ones up so I can recall them. Every time I see my son, I think "wow, he's handsome" as if I never saw that face before. It's very strange, but like I said, I never knew others didn't do the same thing. Now that I know they carry faces in their heads, I feel kind of jealous and then kind of lucky because every time I see someone I love, they're new and exciting to me. I never take them for granted and I study their expressions hungrily, wanting to recall them for later on when I think about them.

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  3. Ahh, I see. That makes sense. You don't know anything is odd until you realize people aren't having the same problem.

    It would be interesting to see what you thought your face looked like without any reference. Have you tried that before?

    On the bright side, you have a book full of faces over → there. So you should be fine. :D

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  4. You know, you got me wondering. I'm going to try to sketch what I think I look like and put that up in a few. Thanks for the idea. I love you readers, you're the smartest think tank in the world.

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  5. i'll be thinking of you when i look at the grass.

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  6. Okay, but will you be seeing my face?

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  7. The neurologist Oliver Sacks writes about his own experiences with face blindness in The Mind's Eye, out last year. Haven't read it myself, but I heard some of his interviews and it sounds like you'd enjoy it.

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  8. Thanks for the heads-up, Scared. Now that I've realized it's a debility, I'm curious about the way others deal. Here's something else I realized. I do psychic reads and when I do, I can open my mind to see parts of a person's face and sketch them out, but I can't see the face as a whole. It's interesting to me because, even someone I look at all the time, like say Sheldon on Big Bang Theory, I get a sense of his slenderness, his clothes, his height, his voice, even his hair somewhat, but the face is a big blank. Yet, if I do a psychic read on someone, I can obtain the features and that tells me it's as if I'm seeing them instead of imaging them. I don't know if that makes a case for psychic abilities, but that realization gives me shivers.

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  9. Sorry to change the subject, but I just finished reading JOSIAH: UNDEAD COWBOY.
    GREAT READ! Your descriptions and imagery are first-rate, and this ghostly tale builds to an exciting climax with a neat twist.
    Highly recommended, everyone!

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  10. Thanks Tim. If you're feeling in a sweet mood, go rate it on Kindle or Nook. I modeled it after a variation of Miami, AZ and Josiah was based on the personality of a blogger and the looks of a man I saw when in Miami who looked supernatural.

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  11. I just have a tough time remembering names. but faces always help out a little. lol.

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  12. Faces no problem, names I don't remember very well, not either I can keep them for long. Only the special ones...

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  13. I always feel better when I hear people have trouble with names. Imagine putting them to faces you can't recall? Haha. I've learned little memory tricks to help me. I have photographic memory, so I can remember a person's name by what position they were in and what position I was in when I heard the name. Then, in my mind I can pull up those positioning we were in and the name sort of hovers over their blank face for me.

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  14. omg! i think i have something similar. I can't make myself see the image of a person's face in my mind. no matter how well i know them. i even try really hard to focus on people so that i can bring back that image in my mind's eye. but i can't. it's really awful. i just thought i had some type of learning disability. maybe that's what it is for me, because i've had related problems in other areas.
    i've always had trouble retaining information in school. when i was learning in class, it totally made sense and i understood it. but i had trouble regurgitating the information. it was really tough for me in college.
    even to this day when i'm reading a book with facts and information, i have to take notes and just try to memorize the information.
    also, watching movies or seeing a concert. i try to bring back details from what i just saw and it's hard for me. thank goodness for video these days. lol
    maybe i'm just brain dead. or maybe i need to fix my thyroid as the ad below states. he he

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