Last week, I wrote about facial expressions being as readable since acquiring prosopagnosia as they were when I could still identify faces. Other nonverbal clues, I now readily observe, required developing more attention to specific details. By looking at eyes of people passing by, I can learn a significant amount. Some people will flat out ignore me. Others will intentionally avoid eye contact. This is most often noted when people are looking in my general direction. Once they are close enough to make out my frame, they look away and keep their eyes diverted while we pass each other. These people, I often think, are either shy or maybe nervous or have another reason they would want to avoid any potential conversation. Most people will at least glance at a passing person. When someone does not know me, they look my way and generally nod their head, saying a quick hello, and then find another object to look at as we pass. Their walking pace neither slows down nor hesitates. It remains consistent. If someone does know me, I find they usually raise their chin a few millimeters, slow down their pace and engage with eye contact for an extended time. At this point, I realize a connection has been made. We exchange a hello. If nothing more is said on their part, I begin seeking verbal clues.
With face blindness, I still see a complete face. I can see all the details the same as anyone else. The difference is I have no ability to remember whose face I am looking at. I need to gather extra information I never before would have taken time to notice. Finding clues has now become the main technique I use to recall someone’s identity. It has been proven when we lose one sense our remaining senses become stronger to help compensate for what is missing. I have come to believe this is true about memory also. I lost the ability to remember faces. I compensate by being able to notice and remember smaller details now. I take note of what previously would have been thought of as an insignificant detail: There is one girl I see who tilts her head down and lifts her eyes up any time she speaks to an adult. There is a receptionist I often see sitting at her desk who starts speaking to people before she attempts to make eye contact.
Details: They hold clues allowing me to compensate for not knowing your face.