A-list Hollywood actor Brad Pitt believes he suffers from a rare disorder known as prosopagnosia, or facial blindness. The disorder causes confusion in patients when they see the faces of others, leading to forgetfulness or aloofness.
Think of prosopagnosia like this. Many people claim to be bad with names but good with faces. In other words, they immediately recognize a face they’ve met, though they will struggle to remember the name. After all, names are abundant, but each face is unique; so the brain has more data when examining a face with which to scan the archives of memory.
Pitt, however, claims to be bad with faces, and believes the issue actually boils down to a mild cognitive issue.
The “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” actor told GQ he has a hard time recognizing people. He also said he worries that his disorder has led to people seeing him as “aloof, inaccessible, self-absorbed,” according to the article. The National Health Institute says that prosopagnosia is usually present at birth and will affect sufferers for most of their lives.
“Nobody believes me! I want to meet another [person with prosopagnosia],” he said.
Brad Pitt has made claims about prosopagnosia before, most recently in 2013
In an Esquire interview nine years ago, the actor claimed that his undiagnosed disorder leads to many awkward conversations and feelings of disrespect.
“So many people hate me because they think I’m disrespecting them,” Pitt said. “Every now and then, someone will give me context, and I’ll say, ‘Thank you for helping me.’ But I piss more people off [than I endear].”
In his own words, Pitt describes the disorder as an inability to “grasp” a face, as if the contours of the human skull posed similar challenges to him as a foreign language or a difficult math problem.
“You get this thing, like, ‘You’re being egotistical. You’re being conceited.’ But it’s a mystery to me, man,” he continued. “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.”
A representative from Pitt did not comment further on the disorder when asked for clarification.
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.
Patients can suffer from this disorder as a direct result from stroke, traumatic brain injury, or certain neurodegenerative diseases.