Brad Pitt thinks he has prosopagnosia.
Don’t worry, the 58-year-old is in no danger of dying any time soon (at least no more danger than any one of us). He just can’t recognize faces.
Here’s what the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) says about the condition: “Prosopagnosia is a neurological disorder characterized by the inability to recognize faces. Prosopagnosia is also known as face blindness or facial agnosia. The term prosopagnosia comes from the Greek words for ‘face’ and ‘lack of knowledge.’”
But there are different levels of the condition. “Depending upon the degree of impairment, some people with prosopagnosia may only have difficulty recognizing a familiar face; others will be unable to discriminate between unknown faces, while still others may not even be able to distinguish a face as being different from an object. Some people with the disorder are unable to recognize their own face.”
Still, Pitt hasn’t been diagnosed with the disorder. He just thinks he has it.
In a recent interview with GQ magazine, Pitt said he has long believed he has the condition and worries that people think he’s remote or aloof because he doesn’t recognize them. “Nobody believes me!” he said.
“I wanna meet another [person with the prosopagnosia],” he added.
Pitt has talked about his belief that he has the disorder, telling Esquire in 2013 that he has tried openly asking for context to help him remember people but said that only “piss[ed] more people off.”
“You get this thing, like, ‘You’re being egotistical. You’re being conceited,’” Pitt said. But he added he doesn’t know why he doesn’t recognize people. “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. … That’s why I stay at home,” he said.
Here’s more from NINDS: “Prosopagnosia is not related to memory dysfunction, memory loss, impaired vision, or learning disabilities. Prosopagnosia is thought to be the result of abnormalities, damage, or impairment in the right fusiform gyrus, a fold in the brain that appears to coordinate the neural systems that control facial perception and memory. Prosopagnosia can result from stroke, traumatic brain injury, or certain neurodegenerative diseases.”
“In some cases it is a congenital disorder, present at birth in the absence of any brain damage. Congenital prosopagnosia appears to run in families, which makes it likely to be the result of a genetic mutation or deletion. Some degree of prosopagnosia is often present in children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome, and may be the cause of their impaired social development,” the Institute said.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.