Prosopagnosia Disability Essay Example: Inability to Recognize Faces
Prosopagnosia derives from the Greek words prosōpon meaning “face” and agnosia meaning “ignorance”. Prosopagnosia is an impairment that causes the inability to recognize facial identity. This impairment can range from not being able to recognize family members or close friends to themselves. Many people every day have trouble recognizing faces they have seen before but prosopagnosia is much more severe than that. People that suffer from prosopagnosia tend to rely on hair, gait, clothing, and voice to figure out who they are talking to. Prosopagnosia can be caused by lesions in parts of inferior occipital areas, fusiform gyrus and the anterior temporal cortex. There are two types of prosopagnosia: acquired and congenital or developmental.
Cases of acquired prosopagnosia can usually stem from any sort of brain damage. Some of these brain damages may be caused from head trauma, stroke or from a disease. This acquired prosopagnosia results from the damage of the occipito-temporal lobe in the brain. Acquired prosopagnosia is then divided into two more categories: apperceptive and associative. Apperceptive prosopagnosia is used typically to describe cases of acquired prosopagnosia with some of the earliest processes in the face perception system. The brain areas that this usually takes place in is in the right occipital temporal regions. People who suffer from apperceptive prosopagnosia cannot make sense of any face, familiar or unfamiliar. This case also makes it difficult for these people to recognize facial emotion, but they are able to identity people based on clothing, hair, skin color and voice.
On the other hand, associative prosopagnosia is typically used to describe cases of acquired prosopagnosia with spared perceptual processes but impaired links between early face perception processes and the semantic information we keep in our mind about people. The brain areas this usually takes place in is the right anterior temporal regions. People that suffer with this type of acquired prosopagnosia may be able to figure out whether people’s faces are the same or different in photos and may be able to derive age and sex of the face but they would not have any recollection of their name occupation or when they had last saw them. The other type of prosopagnosia that is more common is congenital prosopagnosia. This impairment is lifelong and normally starts at birth or manifests in one’s early childhood. This type of prosopagnosia is not tied into brain damage rather it is suggested that a genetic factor is responsible for the condition. To figure out if this prosopagnosia was hereditary there was a test of 689 students who have developmental prosopagnosia. From thee 689 students, 14 of their family members had prosopagnosia characteristics and in these 14 families at least one another person in the family was affected by prosopagnosia. Although there is so much knowledge about this impairment starts, there is not yet knowledge on how we can cure it.
Although prosopagnosia may be rare in some cases, the impairment is still very relevant. Awareness about the disorder has gotten more and more attention recently. Based on recent studies it is reported that prosopagnosia has a prevalence rate of 2-2.5%. This study indicates that nearly one in 50 people have this impairment. If this condition is so prevalent, who does it affect? Prosopagnosia can affect anyone from young children to adults. A child would be more prone to congenital prosopagnosia. When a child develops prosopagnosia, it is usually a result of genetic mutation or deletion, a prenatal, or brain abnormality or damage. In another case child can develop prosopagnosia because they have autism or Asperger’s syndrome. If a adult develops prosopagnosia is it normally due to some sort of accident or disease. This can range from a stroke to brain trauma.
Not only does prosopagnosia affect the people with the impairment but it also affects those who are in the lives of these people. It is very difficult to help and work with the people you love when they are suffering but there are many ways they can. Some examples of familial impact would be parents, spouses or even just friends. Children can often become clingy and withdrawn from their parents from this condition because it can be scary for them to leave their side. Parents though learn to help their child cope with prosopagnosia. For example, the parent may give visual cues, like a wave, to assure the child that they are there to pick them up from school. However, for adults it might be troublesome to find a spouse due to not being socially confident. Prosopagnosia can really take a toll on these people not only physically but mentally.
Due to no cure for prosopagnosia, these people feel nervous and mentally drained constantly. The only possible way for these people to feel the slightest bit more confident is trying to figure out different strategies to make life easier for themselves. There are no definite psychological factors that help all prosopagnosia patients because everyone is different, and everyone copes differently with situations. One major way people are told to try and deal with this situation is therapy. Different ways of therapy have been tested for years but there isn’t any true improvements to the mental and physical health of people with prosopagnosia.