Face Blindness: The Inability to Distinguish Faces

Dennis Faas's picture

Imagine not being able to recognize your mother's face -- or even your own. It sounds like the plot of the next big Hollywood science fiction movie -- but for 48-year-old Bill Choisser, it's real life.

From Wired.com:

"During the 1970s, as a small-town lawyer in the Illinois Ozarks, [Bill Choisser] struggled to convince clients that he was competent even though he couldn't find them in court. He never greeted the judges when he passed them on the street -- everyone looked similarly blank to him -- and he developed a reputation for arrogance. His father, also a lawyer, told him to pay more attention. His mother grew distant from him. He felt like he lived in a ghost world. Not being able to see his own face left him feeling hollow."

Countless visits to doctors led Choisser nowhere. "No one, as far as the doctors knew, had ever been born with the condition," Wired wrote.

It wasn't until Choisser discovered the Internet that he began finding some answers. He posted a message titled "Trouble Recognizing Faces" to a Usenet newsgroup about neurological problems. Several months later, in late 1996, he finally received one reply. "Hello, Bill," the email began, "I read what you wrote, and I think I have what you have."

Choisser eventually began a website and support group on Yahoo and website for what he termed "face blindness." That's how neuroscientist Brad Duchaine found him. Duchaine ran tests on Choisser -- and eventually did the same with others on Choisser's face blindness support site.

Through the Internet, Choisser brought a community of face-blind people together -- many of whom were able to aid Duchaine in his research to discover crucial facts about the condition.

Now Duchaine runs his own website for face blindness.

To read Wired's incredible five page story on face blindness, click here:


Bill Choisser's website:


Choisser's face blindness support group on Yahoo:


Brad Duchaine's face blindness website:


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