I Have Face Blindness. This Is How I Recognize You. | NYT Opinion

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We’ve all been there: You run into someone on the street and suspect you’ve met that person before — they certainly seem to know you. But no matter how hard you try, you just can’t place them. Frustration and embarrassment start swelling up inside you until you fake recognition and make a hasty retreat. Multiply that experience many times over, and you might start to get an idea of what it feels like to be Paul Kram. He has a condition called prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness, a neurological disorder that prevents him from recognizing faces. In a new Opinion Video, the filmmaker James Robinson shows us how Paul navigates social interactions, his strategies for managing face-blindness and how society can better respond to the needs of people living with the condition.

This is the final video in a three-part series created by James, who made "Whale Eyes," an Emmy-nominated video about his own eye condition. This series, “Adapt-Ability,” explores how it feels to live with a disability, and shows how we can all adjust to be more inclusive.

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56 comentarios:

James Robinson
James Robinson:
Hi, I’m James Robinson (byjamesrobinson), the producer of this Opinion Video series. About a year ago, The Times published “Whale Eyes,” a video I made about my own misaligned eyes. The overwhelming response to the film taught us that many people are eager to overcome their discomfort with disability—they just need to know how.

I’ve spent the past year working on, “Adapt-Ability,” a series of three videos about three very different conditions—and how we can all adapt.

In the first episode, we experienced life through the eyes of Yvonne Shortt, as she expanded our definition of blindness. Last week, we learned about stuttering and how we can be better listeners with John Hendrickson. Today, we take flight with Paul Kram and learn about how he navigates life with face blindness.

Feel free to ask any questions about how we made this video or the series as a whole and I’ll do my best to answer.

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Charli Writes
Charli Writes:
My boyfriend has face blindness, and this concept of seeing faces upside down really helped me understand it a bit better. This is such a great series.
Oh that's so sad when he said people think he's not a good person cuz it's so clear that he is. Heartbreaking. These people clearly need to educate those in their sphere and tons of compassionate understanding without making too big of a deal
Paul is my friend and I am so proud of him for who he is and how brave he is to share this with us. James, you are a master filmmaker/communicator, you have brought Paul's story to us with empathy, compassion and love.
Markus Offermann
Markus Offermann:
WOW... this illustration, the writing, the whole presentation is so well done! and its for free! thank you
max silbert
max silbert:
Thank you for making this series, James. It's really an exercise in compassion and empathy. Not going to lie, that last shot with Paul smiling at the camera made me well up
Brilliant, inspiring and illuminating! Love this series @NYT
Richard Thomas
Richard Thomas:
This sums it up very nicely. I have been in some situations where I didn't recognize my own daughter, boss or family members. Recognizing children or women is more difficult because I don't want to stare for too long and be "that strange man" in case it's someone I don't actually know. I live in a smaller town so I generally smile and acknowledge everyone I meet in case I do know them. Wintertime is more difficult as winter clothing obfuscates most features on which I rely to recognize people. People aging or changing weight also throws me off if I haven't seen someone in years.
Jose V
Jose V:
I commend you for this series!

Giving a glimpse into how other people perceive the world helps us understand them. Giving those best practices helps them and us interact better.

I was curious, though it's not that great a question, can Paul distinguish gender or race?
Kireina Pratama
Kireina Pratama:
This is truly amazing, I was moved by it. Thank you for the hard work. 😊😊
Sarah Johnson
Sarah Johnson:
I would be thrilled if we could get more videos in these series! They are so well done!
Chuck Black
Chuck Black:
this was so beautifully put together that it made me smile so big
Green Roc
Green Roc:
I'm faceblind.
It's very painful when people get mad at me for not recognizing their face.
I'm going to bookmark this video to help me better explain myself to people I care about.

I was once 6 feet from Stan Lee, didnt recognize him until I found out he was at the same event I was (Comic Con San Diego before 2009). I like seeing friends, I just cant recognize them from face alone. I've had nightmares about lost friendships just because they changed the 'secondary traits' about them, and they thought I was purposefully ignoring them. Bullies tease me when I havent recognized them, I left a community I loved for over 3 years with that tease of my faceblindness being a last straw for me. I struggle to recognize people in a crowd, even my own relatives. I look for people I know, based on their hair or what they are wearing that day. Change of clothes, and I struggle to recognize them until they speak or move in familiar ways.

I wish more people understood this about me instead of getting offended at my lack or slow recognition of who they are.
I always feel like everyone is like a drawing where nothing is connected that the eyes are just floating there and ppl look like
👁👄👁 I recognize ppl by context and the way their body moves, fashion sense, and their voice
Stephen Cronin
Stephen Cronin:
I teared up during this. I have the complete opposite problem. I’ll see someone’s face and a bell goes off in my head telling me I’ve seen them before. Even if it was someone I noticed on the subway one night and then saw again. It’s kind of like a super power but it’s also consuming. I’ll see a face and my bell goes off but my memory can’t place where I’d seen them from. When I can’t place them it consumes my thoughts for days and weeks.

One time I passed a guy on the street and BOOM, my brain said you’ve seen this guy around a lot. I know I didn’t know him on a personal level but I had interacted with him many times. His face wouldn’t leave my head. Almost 2 months later I finally figured it out. He was the guy who served sandwiches at the deli by my old job years before.
Elise Waln
Elise Waln:
What a beautiful video - Paul seems like a really wonderful, kind soul. Would also love to see more in this series!
Another awesome production. Great work, everyone.
What a kind and charming man.
I'm stunned by how effective the upside down face demonstration was. I just binge watched The Last Dance over the past two days, spent literally hours staring at Michael Jordan's face, and was totally mystified by his upside down visage (and everyone else's)
I have partial prosopagnosia and that is challenging. I rely a lot on hair style and context. I don't generally notice people much at all so I've walked past friends, family, famous people and not seen them and if I've been with others they're shocked I don't see them. But I do notice other things in intricate detail. I'm autistic and prosopagnosia has a much higher occurrence among autistic people, but non-autistic people can have it too.

How I first realised my perception is atypical is from seeing sketch artists work with people to draw crime suspects. I couldn't quite believe it was a real thing as I can't imagine how anyone could possibly do it. I just don't see people like that, I actually find faces very strange, it's more I get an impression of someone's inner self/energy/vibe or however you want to describe it. Honestly I prefer it that way, it's just that society leans a lot on facial recognition as the norm and there's an expectation everyone has that skill.

Often people react badly and take it personally if you don't know who they are and it can be very disorienting and disconnecting in group situations. I think more people got a bit of a taste of what it's like with the mask-wearing in the pandemic.
Matthew Ryan
Matthew Ryan:
I rely on voice ID. I never realized I suffered from it until my early 40's. My team thought it was funny I couldn't find them in the cafeteria at work. They thought it was my glasses/vision.
Jana Lu
Jana Lu:
5:12 'A gait's like a fingerprint'. So true. As someone with poor eyesight, this is SO true. Even from a far, when their face is just a blob.
Thomas Nixon
Thomas Nixon:
To compensate for not being able maintain recognition of others, Paul has actually developed techniques that allow him to study people's movement and voice tones, to an extent that probably surpasses the average person. So by knowing less, he actually knows more.
Dawn S
Dawn S:
This explains our neighbor, she never remembers who we are when walking in the neighborhood or at the store. However, when we are home next door to her home, she recognizes us. Our homes are the connector.
When you take the hair off them it makes it hard to recognise them 😂 also when you make it black and white no pun intended 🤣🤣🤣
Kaity Negau
Kaity Negau:
I have this! I’m a teacher. It’s a wild ride 😂
Mark Kittell
Mark Kittell:
We need to hear someone like this talk sense in America.
Don't be sad, Paul, I like you, no need to feel bad 🤗
Tali Walt
Tali Walt:
There's something about Tom Hanks' face. I was clueless about the other upside-down faces, but his I recognized straight away.
Future Commentary
Future Commentary:
We all need to be more compassionate.
Mike G
Mike G:
Amazing story and person
Rachel Wolf
Rachel Wolf:
Thanks for sharing.
nautilus belauensis
nautilus belauensis:
What a great series
Claudia R. Post
Claudia R. Post:
Some of us don’t see very well, and I can no longer see some of the words that give explanations.
country girl
country girl:
Hi . I'm Iranian girl.🧑‍🎤🌹 village life is very and relax and nice. Thanks for you .❤️👸🤗
Aine Mc Donnell
Aine Mc Donnell:
Paul must think Instagram selfies are insane
Lisa Burt
Lisa Burt:
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Lisa Burt
Lisa Burt:
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more more more!! pls!
Mr. Wilkinson
Mr. Wilkinson:
Wow this is well done.
V. Emil the II-nd.
V. Emil the II-nd.:
Prosopagnosia? Reminds me of a lawyer in Tibet and some rooms to escape from.
Thomas Doubting
Thomas Doubting:
Take care of your brain 🤕
Seth Ortiz
Seth Ortiz:
Upside down Tom Hanks = J. K. Simmons.
z sa
z sa:
God is here 😊😇🙏.
Whoever's reading this, i pray that whatever you're going through gets better and whatever you're struggling with or worrying about is going to be fine and that everyone has a fantastic day! Amen
Thomas Doubting
Thomas Doubting:
Make me think of the surrealistisc painter Magritte.
He was talented and precis, butt crap at faces...😶‍🌫️
Jenny Harris
Jenny Harris:
1 to 50 people. I don’t think so
Shakur Games
Shakur Games:
Bushido Zb
Bushido Zb:
what a f... are u talking about .. 🙃 🤔 😵
In The Office, Michael Scott is interested in an Asian woman in one episode. He can’t tell her apart from another Asian, so he makes a mark on her arm.
Is that more relatable than upside down faces?
Лёха Харитонов
Лёха Харитонов:
Artificial Intelligence, will definitely recognize the Face... Book. And democracy is Also A mandatory element in Life For Humanity.
Nails Chrysanthemum
Nails Chrysanthemum:
When you are doing a video about disabilities, you need to remember that people with that disability will be drawn to your video. Watch your tone. Be inclusive. Don't make a video about "check out these freaks," talk about how people with this disorder can learn to cope. This video is rude and othering.
This channel's hypocrisy, double standard, bias, propagandas, and agendas are unbelievable.
Yummy Spaghetti Noodles
Yummy Spaghetti Noodles:
Why is it racist when I confuse my asian friends but if I confuse friends of any other race it's not racist 🤷?
Paul sounds like he smokes a lot of pot.
Repent your sins. Jesus is coming soon and Jesus wants to save you, but you need to accept him. Turn to Jesus!