I like reading books about brain disorders. It’s an extremely specific genre, and I tend to get interesting looks from friends and strangers alike when I mention it. Anyway, brain disorders are really interesting, and I want to tell you about a couple I find incredibly fascinating.
Prosopagnosia: The inability to recognize people’s faces.
I’m a face person – I totally remember meeting people briefly years ago. I recognize actors from bit parts in episodic television, so I could not even imagine not being able to recognize the faces of anyone. People with this disorder use other cues to know who their loved ones are, but be careful if you get a haircut because your diagnosed spouse may not know you anymore!
Capgras Delusion: The idea that a loved one has been completely replaced by an imposter who is exactly the same as the real person, but not.
Wait, what? Yeah this one is pretty darn weird. People suffering this condition can recognize the physical appearance and behavior patterns as being correct for their loved one. However, they just don’t have the same emotional response. This leads patients to draw the conclusion that their friend or pet is an imposter. Some have actually killed their spouses thinking they were married to a robot.
Pain Asymbolia: Knowing you are in pain, but being unable to feel the distress that accompanies this.
Sometimes I think this one might not be all that bad. You’d still know you were in pain, but it wouldn’t be a bother. It’s really interesting though, because it shows us that the part of the brain the recognizes pain is separate from the part the considers it be be burdensome.