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Why you shouldn’t ignore face blindness that Brad Pitt & Shenaz Treasury suffer from

Prosopagnosia arises when there is a problem in the Temporo-Occipital area of the right side of the brain. The problems that could affect the area include a stroke, hampered blood circulation, haemorrhage or a tumour, says Dr Kishan Raj, senior consultant neurologist at the IBS Hospital, New Delhi

Written by Aanchal Poddar |
Updated: June 29, 2022 5:48:12 pm
shenaz treasuryShenaz Treasury (Photo: Shenaz Treasury/Instagram)

Social media circles were abuzz after another of our celebrities, actor and vlogger Shenaz Treasury, came out with an embarrassing cognitive disorder called Prosopagnosia or facial blindness that makes it difficult for her to recognise and remember faces. A rare condition, she said how she was perceived as snooty and arrogant just because she couldn’t put people’s faces together. “I’ve always felt so ashamed that I mix up people and can’t recognise faces of people — even close friends if I see after a few years — I can’t recognise them. This is a real brain issue. Please be kind and understand,” she wrote on her Instagram post. A few days ago, Hollywood actor Brad Pitt, too, had revealed how the psychological and social impact of the disease had made him unfit for public interactions.

No matter how frivolous this sounds, this could indicate a serious brain condition that needs serious attention and early diagnosis, said Dr Kishan Raj, senior consultant neurologist at the IBS Hospital, New Delhi.

What is prosopagnosia?

Prosopagnosia is, as Dr Raj defined, a neurological condition in which the patient finds it difficult to recognise familiar faces and is unable to recognise people who he/she has known earlier, by face. The patient will, however, be able to recognise another individual through voice and/or other gestures. Normally, an individual can recognise and remember 5000 plus faces throughout their lifetime. However, people who suffer from Prosopagnosia have difficulty recognising people’s faces out of context.

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What precedents/causes could be attached to development of the disorder?

This condition arises when there is some problem in the Temporo-Occipital area of the right side of the brain. The problems that could affect the area include a stroke, hampered blood circulation, haemorrhage or tumour, said Dr Raj. “These are the major underlying causes that could lead to the development of prosopagnosia. The occurrence of the disorder could also be attributed to degenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, but this happens very rarely. Some congenital conditions could also cause prosopagnosia,” he added.

What are the available treatments for the disorder?

The treatment could be decided after identifying the underlying cause. If the disorder is caused by a stroke, then that has to be contained first. If the underlying cause is a tumour, then an operation, chemotherapy or radiotherapy can be used. If it is caused by haemorrhage, then it will have to be treated accordingly. Thus, “the treatment of this cognitive disorder will be in accordance with the treatment of the underlying cause”, said Dr Raj.

What are some of the initial symptoms that a patient could look out for to detect/ self-diagnose the disorder?

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This varies across patients. Since the disorder involves the Occipito Temporal area, it can lead to some symptoms like loss of vision, and individuals might experience drowsiness due to edema or swelling in the region. Sometimes, the patient might directly report the loss of facial recognition.

How quick are the symptoms to occur among patients affected by facial blindness?

Timely reporting of the disorder will depend upon underlying symptoms. Dr Raj said that in case of acute conditions like a stroke or haemorrhage, the patient would report the condition immediately. However, in cases of encephalitis, brain infection or brain tumour that develop over a period of time, the symptoms of the disorder would not manifest enough to warrant patient attention.

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Which age group is the most vulnerable to this cognitive disorder?

People develop conditions like brain haemorrhage and stroke mostly after the age of 50. Those who suffer from hypertension, diabetes and smokers, too, develop a high risk of developing prosopagnosia. Tumours, brain infections could, however, develop among younger people too.

Asked about the frequency of the cognitive disorder, Dr Raj said that it was very rare.

Aanchal is an intern with The Indian Express

📣 The above article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

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First published on: 29-06-2022 at 05:42:24 pm

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