Face Blind!

Appendix A

How To Find Medical Articles on Face Blindness


In Libraries

Do not waste much time in city libraries. It is very unlikely you will find much. I found just one book in the city libraries here in San Francisco that dealt with face blindness at all, and San Francisco is a reasonably-sized city. That book did not cover a lot of ground; it devoted only a couple of chapters to face blindness.

The place to look instead is in the libraries of medical universities. For example, I found most of the things I had references to, in the library at the University of California medical school in San Francisco. If you are not a student in such schools, they will seldom let you take things out of the library, but often they will let you read things there.

You will not be needing to check things out anyway, because it is doubtful you will find any books devoted entirely to face blindness. What you will find are a few pages or a chapter here and there in an occasional book that deals with it. Beyond that, everything else to be found will be a few dozen articles in medical "journals," which are really magazines. A typical article will run ten to twenty pages, and of course the rest of the magazine will deal with other things altogether.

If something really interests you, libraries will often have a copy machine that you can use. They know you are a captive audience though, so be prepared to get reamed. Bring lots of money.

Almost all of the articles I've found deal with three subjects:

You will discover none of the articles deals with the observation of more than a few face blind people, and quite a few deal with the observation of only one person. You will not find anywhere a study involving, say, hundreds of people, a sample size that statisticians seek out if it is available. The condition is just too rare.

If you are going to do research, to find stuff you will need to know the medical term for the condition, "prosopagnosia." This word, which means "face ignorance" in Greek, was coined in the 1940's, no doubt by someone who did not have the condition. I shy away from the term myself because:

There are two great things about having the word. One is that people will often ask you for the medical term to assure themselves the condition is real. Then, of course, they promptly forget the term and remember the common one. The second thing I like about the word is that it is hard to spell and pronounce, and the more so a medical name is, the more impressed people are, so this also helps drive home that the condition is real.

Back to talking about research, when reading journal articles, do not overlook the bibliographies that follow each article. They tend to be quite extensive, and they can often lead to additional interesting stuff. I know this sounds like the way we used to do things before we had the web, but quite a bit of the medical information is not on the web yet. That does bring us, though, to the next topic....

On the Web

You will find significant material on the web, particularly the newer material. Some of these will also contain bibliographies that give you good leads to take to medical school libraries. On the Web is where you will find writings by other face blind people. You will find about a dozen of them. None are as extensive as this document, but some are what one would call "several pages". Others may just be a page, but each gives you that person's unique insight. (Writings by other face blind people are linked in Appendix C).

Use a search engine that does a good job at rating sites, such as Google. Otherwise your search will bring up many pages of professors' tests and meager (outlined) class notes. The word "prosopagnosia" appears frequently in such documents and in them little additional information is provided.

Five years ago, most professors' sites just mentioned the name and a brief definition. Now we are seeing a lot more information on many sites, which to us is a great sign! It causes us to realize students are now learning more than that the condition exists and that it has a name - they are learning something about it. Our next generation when they interact with professionals will encounter a much better world.

To date, most student interest has been in the areas where papers are written already. I have heard little to date from anyone interested in the social or psychological effects of the condition, so I suspect papers on such topics to remain sparse in the immediate future.

Face blind people would encourage movement into those realms. I will leave those contemplating a paper with this one thought: When one treads familiar ground, one ends up with an impressive bibliography at the end of his paper but contributes nothing new in it.

Happy hunting!

"Face Blind!" - Table of Contents

Chapter 1Introduction
Chapter 2Discovering Face Blindness
Chapter 3Physical Causes of Face Blindness
Chapter 4The Importance of Recognizing Others
Chapter 5How Most People Recognize Others
Chapter 6Ways To Recognize Others Without Using the Face
Chapter 7How Non-Face Recognition Methods Work in Practice
Chapter 8A...Bill: How I Tell People Apart
Chapter 8B...Pertti: Recognition System - The Essence Model
Chapter 9Effect of Face Blindness on Emotions
Chapter 10Effect of Face Blindness on Sexuality
Chapter 11Effect of Face Blindness on Your Social Groups
Chapter 12Understanding Why People Choose To Look Alike
Chapter 13Ways To Improve Our Lives


Appendix AHow To Find Medical Articles on Face Blindness - YOU ARE HERE
Appendix BGetting Diagnosed (Tested) for Face Blindness
Appendix CLinks to Other Face Blind People
Appendix DAuthor's Information Page

This document is copyrighted. For information, or to contact the author, go to Appendix D, the Author's Information Page.

Text of this chapter last substantially revised January 1, 2002, with minor revisions on November 10, 2005.