We read a variety of significant information from the face such as identity, mood, age, gender, and race. We can do this unconsciously because we have hundreds of millions of neurons whose purpose is to process information about the face.
However, damage to the temporal lobe can cause prosopagnosia. Prosopagnosia is the difficultly recognizing the faces of familiar people (p.93). People with this condition may not be able to recognize close friends, family members, or even themselves. People with prosopagnosia may compensate by learning secondary cues such as clothing, hair color, hairstyle, body shape, and voice.
I can’t imagine all the troubles one with prosopagnosia may face in their lifetime. I work in a café and during the early morning rush, there are several customers ordering at the same time. Regularly, I have to prepare the orders and remember who order what by their faces. Someone with prosopagnosia would most likely not be able to work in the food industry because remembering orders by faces is an important aspect to keep the customers happy and avoid confusion. Also, it must be really difficult to follow TV shows and movies when you can’t recognize the characters. Someone with prosopagnosia may find it difficult to socialize normally because they only see indistinguishable faces. Someone with this condition may meet someone repeatedly, but every time they see someone it is often like the first time.
Here’s a youtube of two men and the way they cope with prosopagnosia:
I really like the approach of Chuck Close. He is very positive and says that you have to prove to the people you see that you care about them even though you will not recognize them. His approach is to be more outgoing and friendly. I see this man as an inspiration.