Disorder Information Sheet Mental Health Information from PsychNet-UK
Multi Search
HomeSubject Page
Refer to conditions of use


Prosopagnosia is a rare disorder characterized the inability to recognize faces, including one's own in the mirror, inability to recognize previously familiar faces, including, friends and family. The sufferers knows that they are looking at a face but they cannot say who the face belongs to. However, recognition of familiar people can sometimes be preserved but it depends upon such cues as; gait, clothing, voice etc. The main characteristics of the disorder are:

Selective inability to recognize faces, although other visual objects may be correctly identified.

The inability to identify a familiar face of a family members and friends. There may also be the inability to recognize their own face in a mirror.

Accurate judgments about gender, age and emotion are still intact and can recall detailed information about a specific individual if prompted.

No indications of object agnosia.

Associated Features:

The person may be able to imagine faces of familiar people.

May be able to differentiate between faces and other objects.

May not be able to match unfamiliar faces.

Differential Diagnosis:

Some disorders have similar symptoms. The clinician, therefore, in his diagnostic attempt, has to differentiate against the following disorders which need to be ruled out to establish a precise diagnosis. Agnosia of which Prosopagnosis may be a symptom is a disorder which the person looses the ability ability to recognize objects, people, sounds, shapes, or smells; that is, the inability to attach appropriate meaning to objective sense-data.

Object Agnosia.
Not a general memory disorder.
Capgras Syndrome
Mental Retardation


It typically results from damage to specific brain areas in the occipital or parietal lobes of the brain.


Treatment is generally symptomatic and supportive. The primary cause of the disorder should be determined in order to treat other problems that may contribute to or result in Prosopagnosis.

Counseling and Psychotherapy [ See Therapy Section ]

related books
Face Blindness
  Visual Agnosia: Disorders of Object Recognition and What They Tell Us About Normal Vision (A Bradford Book)
UK Support Groups

Granta House
15 - 19 Broadway
London E15 4BQ
Tel : 020 8519 2122
Fax: 020 8522 1725
Mindinfo Line:
020 8522 1728 (London)
0845 766 0163 (Outer London)
Email: contact@mind.org.uk
Web: www.mind.co.uk
PsychNet-UK Links
  Face Blindness
Page Updated
13th August 2003