who are youIt’s not that I don’t remember you, I just don’t recognize you!

By Alice Inoue, Founder of Happiness U

NOTE FROM ALICE: This is a re-post from last year because I’ve met so many new people since I opened the school. I recently offended more than a handful of people and thought it was a good time to repost this.

Have you heard of Prosopagnosia? I hadn’t, until I found out last year that I have it! It is also known as face blindness and is an inability to recognize faces (like a “normal” person). It not only confirmed something I was always troubled by, but it “relieved” me of wondering why I couldn’t remember people I had interacted extensively with.  I find that I offend people unintentionally quite often and a recent incident prompted me to share this with those who know me.

In my case, it is not severe, in that I recognize family and close friends, but unless I’ve seen you repeatedly or there is something about your appearance that stands out for me, I don’t recognize you until we start talking. I then have a strategy I have developed over time where I figure out where I know you from based on conversation context, voice tone, name, or perfume – at which point I can “lock into” who you are.

It can be tricky!

However, if I remember you because you have a mole on your cheek, or long flowing hair, and you remove your mole or change your hairstyle, it messes me up and I won’t recognize you! Sounds strange, but its true! It takes me seeing someone repeatedly and regularly to holistically process a face – which scientists say is the key to face recognition.

After mentioning it briefly in my GO ASK ALICE column in the Sunday paper earlier this month, there was a lot of interest so I’m sharing it here in case you missed the article and – who knows! You may even find out you have it.

Something was always odd

I’ve always known there was something odd about me, in that I could never recognize faces as well as others. When I would mention it, people would say, “Oh, it’s because you come across so many people that it’s impossible for you to remember all of them.” But this didn’t explain why I couldn’t follow a character through a movie, or why I couldn’t recognize my clients after multiple meetings, or recognize a well-known celebrity on the street. It is common for me to mis-recognize people. In fact, it happens every day and sometimes it’s very embarrassing.

It explains why I hate watching westerns and war movies – all the characters look the same with their cowboy hats and boots, or dressed in the military fatigues and I could never figure out the story and felt very stupid – irritating whoever I was watching the movie with because of all my questions.

I’m telling you this because…

If you run into me outside of a planned meeting, and we have met before, or you are an existing client, just say hi, tell me your name, and where we know each other from! It will help me connect to you instantly.  If you are interested in how good your face recognition is, there is an online test you can take to see if you have it!


I scored a 3. What did you score? Post below!

Many have asked me what it is called when you remember the face but not the name. I haven’t found what that dysfunction is, but if you know if there is such a thing, enlighten us all, and post below!!!  Don’t forget to post your score! Is there anyone lower than me?


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