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Surprising Science

Sacks On “Face Blindness”

What is it like to suffer face blindness, where you can’t recognize faces, even ones you’ve seen before and know well? Neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks explains his experience.

Face blindness, affects 2.5% of the population. Those afflicted cannot recognise faces, even ones they have seen before and know well. They must learn to rely on other cues such as gait, spectacles and manner of dress. Neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks is himself face blind and has been living with ocular cancer. In his latest book, which also tells his own story, he relates a case where a man goes to a physician and says he can’t recognise people, and so his life has become ‘a round of apology and offence’. “The matter must be aired,” Sacks says.


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