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ThisTimelessMoment
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12 Oct 2021, 1:58 am

I often find myself seeing a person and identifying them as someone I know, only to find they're a complete stranger.

It seems as if I put people into "categories" of similar looking faces. It only happens with the faces of people I have occasional contact with. Not close friends or family.

Is this face blindness? Anyone else have this happen?


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Mountain Goat
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12 Oct 2021, 3:01 am

Yes. Grouping people is common for me. Sometimes you may think "I know that person from somewhere" and can't think who it is and later find out it was your Mum (My Mum also has the same).

It is where one finds someone where they don't expect them to be is when one has the issues, but I started smiling at everyone just incase I upset someone that knew me as it gives the impression that they have been noticed so they don't get upset... BUT one can only do this for so long.

I failed a college course for more then one reason and the first reason where I noticed rhings going downhill when I kept getting zero marks for work I handed in. Sometimes I would get average marks and other times zero marks. I thought "At least I should get something!" I could not work it out.
Fast forward to around a year (I am not sure if it was six to eight months or could have been longer then a year into the course but lets say a lengthy period of time) and one day I saw one lectrurer come into my class to speak to the one teaching us, and I realized that they were both different people and on occasions I had handed in my work to be marked to the wrong one and I did not know because I had "Grouped" them in my mind as being the same person even though they looked different.
My Mum will even group a very black skinned person with a very white skinned person who to her look the same and she can't tell them apart, as their skin colour does not always register that they are different.
The wierd thing is that I have the complete opposite when it comes to identifying bicycles, railway locomotives, cars etc. I can identify an individual bicycle out of many the same make and model, and I knew the bicycle. The customers who I could not remember until I saw them, seemed to not be identifyable but the bicycles were, and sometimes two bikes had very little to tell them apart... But I would know which was which and I did not know how I did it.
The same came when I could point out and identify a Blackstone shunter from a class 08 as to most the only visual difference is the engine inside, and one does not see the engine from the outside. Yet somehow I could see loads of photographs and pick out the Blackstone ones and I would be studying the photos to try and see what my eyes and brain was seeing to work it out and I did not know as visually they look the same. (Some class 08's were unfitted and the Blackstones were unfitted, so I would be looking at pictures of unfitted ones. Unfitted means does not have train brake pipes).

Sometimes I can learn a face but I have to spend a long time staring at the person to learn their features without them looking at me (As with eye contact I would look away and not take in any information) and I would also have to do this without speaking. Just staring. I rarely did it because people would tell me off if ai tried as they said I was freaking them out. I did not tell them why I would be doing it.



ezbzbfcg2
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12 Oct 2021, 5:13 am

@Mountain Goat: What you're describing is classic face blindness: not recognizing faces you've seen before, not knowing people you ought to know.

OP seems to have the opposite problem, thinking he recognizes someone when they're actually complete strangers he's never seen before.

Though---

ThisTimelessMoment wrote:
It only happens with the faces of people I have occasional contact with. Not close friends or family.

If they really are complete strangers, then why should it happen with friends or family? Seems like a redundant statement. If I understand you correctly, you're saying you think you recognize the face, but it turns out you've never met the person before, so, obviously wouldn't apply to people you actually know.

OP, do you ever have the opposite problem? Do you fail to recognize someone you should know?



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12 Oct 2021, 5:21 am

No, but I always fear this might happen. I think everyone makes that mistake sometimes though, where they think a stranger is someone they know but it turns out not.


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DuckHairback
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12 Oct 2021, 5:40 am

ThisTimelessMoment wrote:
I often find myself seeing a person and identifying them as someone I know, only to find they're a complete stranger.

It seems as if I put people into "categories" of similar looking faces. It only happens with the faces of people I have occasional contact with. Not close friends or family.

Is this face blindness? Anyone else have this happen?


I've never heard of anyone else this happens to, but yes I have this. I see people I recognise quite frequently and mostly they're not who I think they are.

On several occasions I've approached people that I thought I'd recognised and started talking to them and they don't know who I am. I've even assumed people were messing with me, pretending they don't know me. It's very embarrassing when it happens - so much so that as a rule I don't approach people I think I know any more, I let them come to me, or I hang around listening in case someone uses their name or there's some other confirmation. I just don't trust my ability to recognise people any more.

And for me this does happen a bit even with family members. I've never actually properly mistaken anyone for my mum, but I have seen people that I think might be my mum and I have to watch them for a while before I can fully rule out that it is my mum.



ThisTimelessMoment
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12 Oct 2021, 7:36 am

Thanks for the replies.

Mountain Goat - your college story sounds scary. That would blow my mind, though I can imagine it happening to me.
I also sometimes smile in the hope of them recognizing me. Not working so great with all the mask wearing!

ezbzbfcg2 - what I meant was that I don't mistake strangers for family members, but I do sometimes mistake strangers for people I have met occasionally. It happened yesterday where I thought a woman sitting opposite me at the hospital was someone from a group I attended quite regularly before covid hit.
No I don't fail to recognize people I should.

DuckHairback - Yes, I'm also learning to be more cautious.

Perhaps with people I know well (like family) I also have an appreciation of their mannerisms, which makes it easier to recognize them, if I can observe them for a while? That info might be lacking in my memory of someone less close?


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Mountain Goat
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12 Oct 2021, 7:45 am

ezbzbfcg2 wrote:
@Mountain Goat: What you're describing is classic face blindness: not recognizing faces you've seen before, not knowing people you ought to know.

OP seems to have the opposite problem, thinking he recognizes someone when they're actually complete strangers he's never seen before.

Though---
ThisTimelessMoment wrote:
It only happens with the faces of people I have occasional contact with. Not close friends or family.

If they really are complete strangers, then why should it happen with friends or family? Seems like a redundant statement. If I understand you correctly, you're saying you think you recognize the face, but it turns out you've never met the person before, so, obviously wouldn't apply to people you actually know.

OP, do you ever have the opposite problem? Do you fail to recognize someone you should know?


This is a part of having faceblindness (Prosopragnosia). It is around 50% of what I get in day to day life. The other 50% is not recognizing people anyway so having the two together does not help, but the one condition works hand in hand with the other and it has the same end result in how ones brain functions if one has the condition (I know from first hand experience!)

Faceblindness is also through my experience rather puzzling as it is not a condition that one can sense, feel or realize one has it unless one either "Discovers" it through mistakes (It took me 18 years of my life before I caught on, and I only realized what it is because my Mum has it. If she didn't have it, I would probably even today not know what is going on as I would have had nothing to compare it to).
I discovered it from what happened in college and it was because my Mum had it and shared her experiences that I recognized it as faceblindness. It was almost another 25 years later in my 40's when my Mum and I discovered it had an official name and that it was a medically recognized condition.
Faceblindness (Prosopragnosia) is often a case where one finds out one has it through other people and I believe it comes in waves in that sometimes I can get it and other times I don't and I can't work out why sometimes I may recognize someone and at other times I don't, though the times I don't are normally in a different enviroment where I would expect them to be, but not always.

When I used to have a house, I saw someone on the roof of my neighbours house. My house was the end house of a row of terace houses. Now I was saying what I saw to the next neighbour to keep an eye out as the elderly couple who owned the house were only there a few times a year (They moved elsewhere due to his past line of work but they always kept their origional house to come back to, and when they retired they were fortunate enough to have a choice so they would come to their terrace house for a break in the summer etc).
Now the man from the next house down then said when I told him "That was me!"
He was fixing their roof for them. I just did not recognize him even though I expected him to be in that enviroment, so it does not always work wirh me saying it is an enviroment I don't expect them to be in as there is moee to it then that... As he is one of the people who has faces that dissapear into a "Group" if that makes sense?



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12 Oct 2021, 12:35 pm

I'm certainly not very confident of being able to recognise the faces of people I've not seen very often, and I can mistake them for anybody who looks even slightly like them. I'm used to it so I don't jump to any conclusions when I think I recognise somebody. But when I see the actual person I'm looking for, I usually get a much stronger feeling that it's them, and realise how wrong my other recognitions were.

It's one of the things that makes it difficult for me to follow movie plots - I can't easily tell the faces apart unless they're very different from each other. As I also generally fail to catch their names, I'm usually lost very quickly.

If somebody changes their hairstyle drastically, to me it often looks like a completely different person and I can't recognise them at all. Once when I had very long hair, just for fun I took a photo of myself after I'd wet my hair and combed it back so that it looked very short. I couldn't recognise myself, even though in those days I spent plenty of time looking at my face in the mirror. I showed the photo to other people, expecting them not to know who it was, and was very surprised when they could immediately tell it was me. This was all decades before I was diagnosed.

If you want to memorise a person's face, it's probably wise to wait until they're talking to you, then it seems you can stare at them as much as you like (in fact they can get quite annoyed if you don't). For some reason they equate it with paying attention to what they're saying, though I agree with Alan Watts who said that it actually gets in the way of attention.



ThisTimelessMoment
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12 Oct 2021, 3:10 pm

Thanks Toughdiamond. I'm not sure I can tell I have a stronger response when it really is who I think it is. I'll have to look out for that in the future.
I have problems with movie plots but I don't associate it with face blindness as I have the same problem with books.


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ToughDiamond
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12 Oct 2021, 5:32 pm

ThisTimelessMoment wrote:
Thanks Toughdiamond. I'm not sure I can tell I have a stronger response when it really is who I think it is. I'll have to look out for that in the future.
I have problems with movie plots but I don't associate it with face blindness as I have the same problem with books.

I also forget names, hence my problem with books. And as for who's related to who, beyond the simple things like mother, father, son, daughter, brother, and sister, I struggle to fathom that too.