Brad Pitt opens up about fears he has 'face blindness': What is prosopagnosia?

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·4 min read
Brad Pitt says he believes he suffers from face blindness, a condition known as prosopagnosia, pictured in February 2020. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
Brad Pitt says he believes he suffers from face blindness, a condition known as prosopagnosia, pictured in February 2020. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Brad Pitt has opened up about his belief that he may suffer from undiagnosed face blindness, which is a rare condition known as prosopagnosia.

In a recent interview with GQ magazine, the Bullet Train actor, 58, revealed that if he is impacted by the condition it could explain why he struggles to remember people and can come across as “remote and aloof”.

While he has never been formally diagnosed with prosopagnosia, Pitt says he has difficulty remembering new people and recognising their faces, especially in social settings such as parties.

He worries this could lead to people forming the impression that he is "aloof, inaccessible, self-absorbed", and he says he often feels "ashamed" that he can't remember the people he meets.

The actor went on to acknowledge that “nobody believes” him when he discusses his possible medical condition, adding that he is keen to meet another person who suffers from the condition.

This isn't the first time Pitt has spoken about his struggle to recognise faces and his concerns over the impact of those difficulties.

Read more: Aphasia explained: The truth about Bruce Willis' health condition

Brad Pitt says he struggles to remember the faces of people he has met. (Elizaveta Porodina/GQ/PA)
Brad Pitt says he struggles to remember the faces of people he has met. (Elizaveta Porodina/GQ/PA)

The Moneyball actor previously told Esquire, "So many people hate me because they think I'm disrespecting them. So I swear to God, I took one year where I just said, 'This year, I'm just going to cop to it and say to people,'Okay, where did we meet?' But it just got worse. People were more offended.

"Every now and then, someone will give me context, and I'll say, 'Thank you for helping me.' But I p*** more people off. You get this thing, like, 'You're being egotistical. You're being conceited.' But it's a mystery to me, man. I can't grasp a face and yet I come from such a design/aesthetic point of view. I am going to get it tested."

Watch: Brad Pitt says he is on 'last leg' of his career

What is face blindness?

The NHS describes prosopagnosia, or face blindness, as a condition where you cannot recognise people's faces.

Face blindness often affects people from birth and is usually a problem someone has for most or all of their life.

Those living with the condition are often unable to recognise family members, partners or friends, which can have a knock-on effect on their everyday lives.

"A person with prosopagnosia may avoid social interaction and develop social anxiety disorder, an overwhelming fear of social situations," the NHS site explains.

"They may also have difficulty forming relationships or experience problems with their career."

The actor worries it may affect people's impression of him, pictured in February 2020. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
The actor worries it may affect people's impression of him, pictured in February 2020. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

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Feelings of depression are also common among those living with the condition.

According to the NHS, there are two types of prosopagnosia: 'developmental prosopagnosia' – where a person has prosopagnosia without having brain damage and 'acquired prosopagnosia' – where a person develops prosopagnosia after brain damage, often following a stroke or head injury.

Several studies have indicated that as many as one in 50 people may have developmental prosopagnosia, which equates to about 1.5 million people in the UK.

While it isn't known exactly what causes developmental prosopagnosia, it is believed it may have a genetic component and run in families.

That's because many people with the condition have reported at least one first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling (brother or sister), who also has problems recognising faces.

Though prosopagnosia is not related to memory problems, vision loss or learning disabilities, it is sometimes associated with other developmental disorders including autism spectrum disorder.

Read more: As Roman Kemp shares diagnosis and 'extreme tiredness' – what is sleep apnoea?

Treatment for prosopagnosia

While there's no specific treatment for prosopagnosia, researchers are working to investigate what causes the condition, and training programmes are being developed to help improve facial recognition.

Those living with the condition often cope by using alternative strategies to try to recognise people, such as remembering the way they walk or their hairstyle, voice or clothing, but these types of techniques don't always work, particularly if a person with prosopagnosia meets someone they know in an unexpected location or who's changed their appearance.

The Centre for Face Processing Disorders has more information about coping strategies for prosopagnosia.