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Adrienne Dellwo

Facial Recognition Problems in Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By February 3, 2011

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Do you have trouble recognizing people's faces? It wasn't a problem I'd ever heard about in connection with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, but when a reader left a comment about it I had an "ah-ha" moment.Here's the comment:

"[I] find it takes me longer to remember peoples faces! So embarrassing when I don't recognize my son's girlfriend's mother - or call someone the wrong name - not because I get name muddled but actually have the face muddled up! Problem is worse when I see someone in work uniform for first time or vice versa. I met a soldier in hospital years ago who suffered from CFS (I have FMS) who got in trouble because he mistook a senior officer (who was out of uniform) with a private that he knew & spoke to him inappropriately!" -Trish in Oz

In the last few years, I've noticed that I have a horrible time distinguishing characters in TV shows and movies (if they have similar hair styles, I'm doomed!), and I do sometimes confuse people I don't know well. For example, I was recently at my daughter's gymnastics show and found myself staring at a little girl, unable to tell if she was from my daughter's class.

I looked into this and found that some experts believe we have physical abnormalities in the temporal lobes of our brain, and wouldn't you know it, that's the area that deals with facial recognition.

Do you have problems remembering or recognizing faces? Has it caused problems for you? Have you found anything that helps with it? Leave your comments below!

Learn more or join the conversation!


Photo Christopher Robbins/Getty Images

February 3, 2011 at 7:06 am
(1) Grace says:

Yes! I am so glad someone else has this with CFS/fibro. I don’t see many people except a few close friends but watching tv characters I am clueless – I can’t distinguish between people so story is hard to follow. My friends find this highly entertaining! Before I was ill, I used to meet many new people every week through work and dancing and had no problems remembering who I had met and our conversation so I guess its just yet another weird symptom of this illness

February 3, 2011 at 7:08 am
(2) acker says:

too tired to comment haha except to say this is especially is concern if you previously were very good w faces and names. i
couldn’t specifically attribute cfs [i call it post-viral exhaustion] to all of the non-recognition; imthink also that because we’ve been so socially isolated for so long, and have so much worry and other sh!t banging around in our brains, a lot of that social practice has been lost or displaced

February 4, 2011 at 2:34 am
(3) crztaal says:

I so Agree to this i used to be very social an now with illness makes focus a thing of the past lol… I am currently unable to hold down a full time job, I have Fybro, chronic migrain headaches, sleep apnea, acid reluxs an crohns. multiple other this i have been reading a lot lately an noticing that people with fybro often have some or many of these same ailments any in put on this? I was also diagnosed with ADD/ADHD but i can’t help but wonder if this is due to the pain factor that makes it so difficult to stay focused or goin back to this facial reconition thing.. it susre would be nice if we could all have all the answer to this crap but thankful they know what they do know about fybro compared to what they knew of it 10-15 yrs ago!

November 7, 2011 at 7:47 pm
(4) Liza says:

I have Crohn’s Fibro and now they are thinking RA. I’ve noticed when I am particularly fatigued, my ability to connect names with faces is gone. Its embarrassing. But its my short term memory that seems to suffer the worst.
From what my doctors have told me…its not uncommon for someone with one autoimmune disease to end up with several.
I think pain also effects my ability to think clearly and focus. Some days I can’t pay attention to converstations at all.

February 3, 2011 at 8:08 am
(5) J Gilbert says:

Me too – Mum has strict instructions never to walk in the room and say, “Look who’s here!”

February 3, 2011 at 8:44 am
(6) Shawna says:

Wow. Thanks for sharing this- I don’t feel like such an idiot now! I really thought it was just me!
When going to my husband’s LARGE family reunions, it would freak me out when people came up to me and talked like we were best of friends. I would have no clue as to who they were! It was embarrassing and I would pretend I had a headache to explain my confusion.

Adrienne, I love the ah-ha moments… For some reason, I always feel a little better when I read your articles.
Thanks again!

February 4, 2011 at 1:10 am
(7) JohnBit says:

Wow – this describes me to a t! Well this AND the movie/TV show thing. I have a near impossible time following the cast if the players aren’t very distinguishable from each other. Like with different color hair, ethnicity, etc. If 3 players are all brunettes or all Albino, I will lose track completely.

I’ve shrugged it off as CRAFT syndrome, but now hearing that many other people with CFS/ME/FM are affected the same way I feel comfort in knowing that there are others out there that understand where I am coming from and why I do some of the things that I do.

Adrienne: you may have hit upon an association that could be helpful to someone doing research for a couple reasons.

Is there a significant percentage of people with ME/CFS/FM that are symptomatic like this?
If so, prosopagnosia affects only one specific part of the brain, the fusiform gyrus. That may help someone focus their research.

February 3, 2011 at 11:04 am
(8) amy says:

I have forms of this from time to time, I am thankful its not all the time yet. I don’t just have a hard time remembering people though, there are times I dare say even intimate times I will be looking at my fiancee and his face seems changed, sometimes it changes back and others he just looks different and not like a haircut changed different… So very hard to explain. I even see it in myself… Leaves me confused and scared.

February 3, 2011 at 1:48 pm
(9) esther says:

Hi Amy,

I have had this sensation that someone I know well looks different to me at different times. It’s very twilight zone, huh?
I know who they are, of course, but it can be scary. I also find that these memory problems are worse when I am sleep-deprived or very ill. In other words, sometimes I’m sharper than at other times. When I’m tired, I don’t even try to think of things that seem difficult at that time and return to them when I’m feeling better. When I can do those things, I’m always happy to see that these skills do come back. You are not alone, Esther

February 3, 2011 at 1:40 pm
(10) esther says:

Yes, I have had this problem, not recognizing someone I had had dinner with at a friend’s house. Embarrassing… In addition to our brain damage, I believe that when I’m tired, I don’t attend to things very well. By the way, my husband who doesn’t have CFS, has the same problem when he sees someone out of the context he knows them in. So some of this may be part of aging. Sometimes I recognize a face but don’t know the name or who the person is.

February 3, 2011 at 2:11 pm
(11) Artymiss says:

I find that. I also find recognising streets takes longer too. If I am on a bus reading and I look up, it takes me a few seconds to realise where I am. The first time it happened, it had been snowing and everywhere looked that slight bit different. I got off the bus thinking I was at work and I was actually two villages away.

February 3, 2011 at 2:52 pm
(12) Carmen says:

Hi, do experience some of this problems as well. I have become very forgetfull. Sometimes I cant remember if I shower the day before or my children tell me things and I forget.

February 3, 2011 at 2:59 pm
(13) Tammy says:

I don’t have a problem with recognizing faces but I do have trouble recalling names. I know I know the people and can usually put them in places like their job and such but I can’t for the life of me remember names. It may come to me 3 or 4 days later but not when I am talking to them. It is really bad because I live in a town of about 15, 000 people and my family and husband’s family are very well known so about 90 % of the people in the town know who I am. It is embarrasing.

February 3, 2011 at 3:39 pm
(14) Sue Butler says:

Well I have a fair bit of name forgetting myself and yes I too have often forgotten who people are and it is so embarrassing when people have to give me reminders of where we have met before. Mind you I have a terrible problem holding numbers in my head for even a few moments when I am dialling a telephone number or writing down a series of numbers. We are a funny crew aren’t we once we get our Fibro or CFS/ME etc. Never know what symptoms that we are going to get next as things seem to become apparent as time moves along.

February 3, 2011 at 3:47 pm
(15) Maureen Saul says:

I think that people try to blame everything on Fibro.Its no wonder Dr’s say its all in the mind.Makes my blood boil.It does not cause all the stupid things people try to say it does. I’ve been a Fibromite for over 12 years.So I do know what I’am talking about .

February 3, 2011 at 6:45 pm
(16) JohnBit says:

I’m a bit confused here; what exactly are you saying?

Are you saying that all these people who have said they experience this don’t know what they’re talking about?

What are the other “bs” symptoms that people are blaming on FM and CFS?

February 3, 2011 at 11:54 pm
(17) M says:

I think Maureen is just trying to say that maybe we blame too many things on our conditions…that maybe we tend to over analyze things. We might get some of the same answers from people without fm or cfs. She didn’t say it very kindly though.

February 5, 2011 at 1:43 am
(18) Lynn Bodenstein says:

Maureen, yes we need to take responsibility for ourselves. Yes the diagnosis is also a garbage pail diagnosis; but how to you account to the physical changes to our temporal lobes?

February 5, 2011 at 2:31 am
(19) Rose says:

I think that Maureen needs to try a little harder to realise that not everyone is affected to the same extent by CFS/Fibro.
Rather than being so dismissive of the extent of others problems perhaps she should consider herself lucky to get off so lightly.
A little humility and charity would not come amiss!

February 3, 2011 at 3:57 pm
(20) Verna says:

OMG! I have been having this problem but never associated it with fibro. sometimes I have to take a second long look to reconize someone.

February 3, 2011 at 4:12 pm
(21) Louise says:

Maureen, I’m glad you don’t have as many problems as some of us do. That is one thing I have discovered,there must be some cases worse than others.I have friends who say they have it and go about life as though there is not a problem.Please don’t lump everyone together.We are all hurting and we are looking for answers.

February 4, 2011 at 4:20 pm
(22) m says:

I agree Louise. Everyone is different in their symptoms and severity. I think that’s the main reason doctors have a problem with us. That, and the fact that so far they haven’t figured out how to cure us.
I also think that FM is overdiagnosed and that some of these people who say they have it, actually don’t. That doesn’t help matters at all.

February 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm
(23) Marti Murphy says:

Maureen — Tender points don’t lie. When my PCP found I had 20 out of 18, it was quite clear.

February 3, 2011 at 4:38 pm
(24) Elaine says:

My daughter complains of chronic back pain and morning aches all over. Thought it was due to her being 5’8″ and sleeping in a single bed. She’s been in a queen bed for 3 months with no improvement…I had wondered previously about FM but didn’t give it much thought. I decided to start researching FM now. She has so many of the symptoms. As I’m reading, I realize I have even more than she does. THEN I read about the face recognition issues. Wow, I have had that problem for a very long time and only just heard about this last year. It’s called Prosopagnosia. Yes, there is a name for it! And yes, soooo embarrassing. Too many examples to share. Finding out that it’s related to FM, wondering if I might have FM along with my daughter – just amazing. Will be visiting our dr. soon to investigate further. Thanks all for sharing your stories :)

February 3, 2011 at 4:55 pm
(25) Karen says:

I often have the same problem, especially if the person is outside of the environment that I would normally see them in. I saw my accountant at a carnival one day, I knew that I knew her from some where but I couldn’t place where. I just said hi. But after thirty minutes, if finally came to me who she was. But she has been my accountant, every year, for twenty years! But she was dressed casual and normally I see her dressed in a suit and at her office. It is very stressful to look at someone and you know that you are supposed to know them, but you cannot immediately remember how and surely cannot come up with a name! It’s nice to know I can now categorize this under my fibromyalgia and not “crazy”!

February 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm
(26) Trish says:

Thanks for sharing this information! I, like the others, had no clue that my inability to remember people was fibro related. I can’t remember people from week to week at church. Knowing That others deal with issue doesn’t make it better, but at least I don’t feel like such an idiot.

February 3, 2011 at 7:08 pm
(27) abotbensussen says:

Yes, absolutely, I didn’t realize either that it’s part of fibro. In films I too get the characters confused. Especially if they have the same hair color. I do sleep now, with Xyrem, so it isn’t from lack of sleep. It’s just hard to distinguish faces lately. Well, the last decade or so. I try to practice by recognizing actors in other roles on the TV,

This week I got lost twice, something that doesn’t often happen to me. Going to a familiar place. That’s part of fibro, too, I think. Blank pages slip into my brain. But thank G-d, the words are still working so I can write this.

February 3, 2011 at 9:01 pm
(28) Anette says:

I have a neurological condition known as ‘prosopagnosia’ or faceblindness and it’s not related to Fibromyalgia, at least not in my case. I’ve had moderate faceblindness all my life, but didn’t realize it until I started working in retail, and couldn’t tell, after turning around and then back at my customer, which person I was helping at the moment or whether someone had just come thru my line 10 minutes ago. I’d always had trouble following certain movies or tv shows, and never knew why. Now I know it’s because I constantly got characters mixed up and didn’t know who was who. Never noticed the the Fibro made this worse, but am fascinated that it can cause faceblindness in previously not-fb people.

February 3, 2011 at 10:37 pm
(29) MIRACLE15067 says:

I have these and many other issues often. I’m at work and looking at employees and I try to makeout faces of employees and can’t match thier names.
Heartfelt Hugs,

February 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm
(30) Anette says:

Miracle15067, are you talking to me?

February 9, 2011 at 1:49 am
(31) Adrienne Dellwo says:

I believe Miracle’s comment was directed at Maureen.

February 3, 2011 at 11:54 pm
(32) Effie says:

I have been having trouble recognizing faces in real life and TV/movies. Once the voice comes in, I have a better time sorting out who I have stumbled upon at the mall, etc. I’ve had FMS for 40+ years and true these kinds of cognitive problems are definitely worse when I’m tired or feeling unwell.
I was feeling very unwell just before the big snow storm this week. Anyone else flare up when the barometer drops?

February 4, 2011 at 12:20 am
(33) Sara says:

Wow…I had no idea about this. I have MS and Fibromyalgia. I don’t personally have problems with what you described, BUT, have noticed this symptom in my husband. He has been struggling with scary similar symptoms to mine for years and I am fairly certain he has fibro and maybe more, but one thing that i’ve definitely noticed is that he gets characters on tv wrong all the time. It’s bizarre, and he even forgets that we just watched something within the last few weeks and will watch it again. After reading your post it sure makes me wonder if this is one more sign that he has it! He has no insurance so it’s hard to get anywhere with his health issues, so frustrating! Thanks for sharing!

February 4, 2011 at 10:05 am
(34) Nina says:

This is a very interesting find. I have always had this problem. If someone were to ask me what color someone’s hair was, I would go blank but if you played the person’s voice, I could recognize them in a second. It’s funny. I recognize people by their voices instead of their faces or features.

Thank you for the article and for the newsletters

February 4, 2011 at 10:14 am
(35) nina says:

P.S. to my previous comment please:

I meant eye color not hair color – #brain fog is dangerously hysterical today. Thank you.

February 4, 2011 at 11:28 am
(36) C J says:

Thank God! I thought I was getting Alzheimers.

February 4, 2011 at 3:37 pm
(37) Gloria says:

Yes, I have had this problem all my adult life. I was diagnosed with fibro two years ago, but then rediagnosed with osteoarthritis, so don’t know what I really do have… but regardless, I cannot recognize faces until I meet someone many times, and even then, if they change their hair I won’t recongnize them. Some people I just can’t recognize, even after meeting them many times. I don’t think it’s part of chronic pain because I had this before I was in pain. And it’s (usually) not that it takes me a while, I just don’t recognize people. Voice recognition might help.

February 4, 2011 at 5:01 pm
(38) Marcia says:

Yes, for many years now, I’m not good at recognizing faces I don’t see often, but I am good with names. My late husband could always recognize someone but not recall their name. As soon as he told me the context (she’s someone from school) I could come up with the name. I never realized this could be associated with fibromyalgia.

February 4, 2011 at 5:24 pm
(39) ~myristica says:

Facial amnesia! Yes! I had always been good with names until becoming a fibromaniac. Now I can’t remember ppl I’ve been introduced to only 25 minutes before.

Having FMS for 26 years, I’m an old trooper at many symptoms but sometimes don’t even realize it’s a symptom until it’s mentioned somewhere; however, the forgetting faces I’ve read about before, so we’re not alone.

Thanks for all the effort you put into your writing to increase awareness of FMS/CF.

February 5, 2011 at 1:53 am
(40) Lynn Bodenstein says:

This is not just face amnesia it is also recognition. There are two actors in a movie just out with “friends” in the title. Seeing the two of them NEXT to each other in the car I can’t tell them apart!

I had trouble telling whether I was gazing at my sleeping seven year old or ten year old daughter!

February 4, 2011 at 5:43 pm
(41) Judy P says:

I have this too – it’s definitely a problem when working with over 100 students each day. Other teachers don’t seem to have this problem – so I’m glad to hear there’s a possible explanation in FMS. I also forget names, though, big time.

Adrienne – I’d like to hear more about the research about the temporal lobe. Since I actually have some known abnormalities in my left temporal lobe, I always wondered if that might be part of my condition. Face recognition. Hmm.

Well – thanks for a new Google topic for the weekend. (And I only just swore off.)

February 9, 2011 at 1:41 am
(42) Adrienne Dellwo says:
February 4, 2011 at 7:40 pm
(43) Donna says:

No I don’t have any problems recognizing faces. I know a lot of FM’ers have trouble with memory too but I seem to have a super memory. I work at keeping it that way too. My 78 year old mom and 29 year old daughter can’t remember anything so I am the one who remembers appointments etc for them. I read and write a lot and I think this helps.

February 4, 2011 at 7:49 pm
(44) aidan walsh says:

the only face i have difficulty with is dr. simon wessely’s…reminds me of a dog in heat who is extremely confused and completely disoriented… like a dog who is chasing his own tail…the man is truly in need of some serious phyciatric help…

February 4, 2011 at 11:16 pm
(45) kitkat says:

Anyone wishing to test facial recognition can go to

February 5, 2011 at 12:20 am
(46) Valetudinarian says:

A new thing for me: I can’t remember if it is someone I just met or someone I haven’t seen in a while or rarely run into!

I have had problems remembering names for a while.

I think it all ties in with Mild Cognitive Impairment.

February 5, 2011 at 1:38 am
(47) Lynn Bodenstein says:

Holy Moly! I thought it was from my 28 years of brain injury!

EG.: I have troubles distinguishing Robert De Nero and Al Pachino. ( BTW) I had to look up their names via the casts of Falkers and “The God Father”

February 5, 2011 at 1:48 am
(48) Deb says:

Oh my, now this is an interesting topic. Yes! Yes! Yes! However, I think I have more trouble putting names with faces; or, I will forget someone’s name I think I shoulddd know. However, there are times faces get a little more muddled, especially faces I do not see very often.

Is it lack of facial recognition when one thinks one should recognize the face of another person but you are not sure? I have had that happen quite a lot, and it is soooo embarrassing when I make those boo-boos. ugh!!! I am so tired of this disease.

February 5, 2011 at 3:35 am
(49) Moi says:

I have the face recognition problem as well, but I was wondering if anyone with FM has trouble speaking? I ‘know’ what it is I want to say, and as a Senior Supervisor I need to be able to communicate quickly and clearly, but it comes out as stuttering, mixed up words…brush the sink might be sink the brush or srush the bink or just a blank and I end up pointing at the brush then the sink. It is frustrating, embarrassing and terrifying. What is happening to me? If I didn’t have good people around me I would do what I feel like doing at those times, cry and walk away. Memory has become so bad my now ex-boss and long time friend has covered for me so many times, I just resigned. But he is refusing to accept my leaving and just wants me to take time off and get well. How I wish it was that easy. People just don’t understand how tense and saddening it causes us to be. And try and find someone you might want to date and have a future with when you have a long list of physical and emotional things going on. It takes a very mature and special person which I can’t see happening when I am having a hard time with myself. What I would give for just five minutes of peace from all these things. People can’t understand how we have to live every moment of a day. We get tired in more than just body. We get tired in heart.

February 9, 2011 at 1:45 am
(50) Adrienne Dellwo says:

This is a really common problem! Here’s more information for you: Language Impairments in Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Take care!

February 5, 2011 at 3:42 am
(51) Moi` says:

Does anyone have a hard time reading sometimes? Or counting from 1-100? I can be reading a book and will get ‘stuck’ over a word I have known since I learned to read. Or I will be counting and get stuck with what comes after 79 or 89. Always those numbers. It takes the joy out of reading and that is just about all I have left that is for me. I am a photographer for soldiers and their families and I am terrified what will happen if I start forgetting how to set my cameras right or something else about it. What will I have left if I can’t do the things that are my passions? I no longer write and I used to be published in small places and AARP and college, but it just vanished like many things dealing with thought. The psych eval I had just said I am depressed due to the amount of pain I have to deal with daily. Simple answer for an non-simple situation.

February 5, 2011 at 9:04 am
(52) Maggie says:

Having fibro for over 20 years I have found that symptoms, frequency, duration and severity are different for every individual affected.
As well, I have found that many people I know who do not have fibro have some of the same symptoms that I experience.
It seems to me that those of us with fibro tend to blame any and all symptoms on fibro when that is not always the case. Recalling of names and faces is a prime example. Think about all the people you hear that say, “I know I should know that person but I just can’t place them” or “I would have introduced you to them but I couldn’t recall his/her name”. It has been proven in many studies that some people can recall names and faces much better than others.
My message here is that we all have many issues with fibro but let’s consider what we are blaming fibro for before we consider other factors that may be involved. Otherwise, it becomes a condition that others have trouble believing as it seems to others that it is a handy excuse and ‘scape goat’.
We have enough to deal with, let’s work at keeping fibro what it is so that others consider it legit.

February 5, 2011 at 10:48 am
(53) Shawna says:

Blaming everything on fibro? I knew names and faces just fine before I got sick. The fibro came on at age 36. I am 41 now. Now I don’t remember names and faces. It seems to me that this is TOTALLY the fault of the fibromyalgia! You cant tell me that it is a coincidence that my brain functions CHANGED for no reason. And if you look at the “Monster List”, I now have most of those symptoms which I DID NOT at age 35. Fibromyalgia can be a body system-wide dysfunction. Just because YOU don’t believe it, don’t denigrate the rest of us!!

February 5, 2011 at 1:35 pm
(54) Kathe says:

I have never been good at names, but faces, clothing, perfumes, tiny details I’ve always had perfectly. Lately, however, I’m just not placing people–people who are not in my immediate circle of friends but certainly people I see from time to time and never forgot their faces before. I’ve been diagnosed with FM since 1989 and think I’ve done very well considering. But brain fog and the accompanying confusion is beginning and I don’t like it. Altho this thread is very comforting to me. My couple very close non-FM friends don’t understand at all and keep trying to reassure me that everyone our age (’60s) is going through this or some form of it. To some degree that’s true, like fatique, but it’s not the same degree of difficulty or confusion at all. It’s the perennial problem of FM-free people just not getting it, or being able to get it. Thank heavens for this forum, Adrienne!

February 5, 2011 at 2:27 pm
(55) Anette says:

I always wonder whether some of my symptoms are due to Fibro or just getting older and (peri)menopause. I cannot watch a sentimental scene on TV without wanting to cry and have to fight not to. It might be more due to the hormonal changes of MP and that combined with the Fibro is not a fun combination. I’m convinced that people who don’t know me well probably think I’m not very intelligent, because of all the mental disabilities I have, including faceblindness, not being able to find the correct word for something, garbling my speech. And does anyone here, when reading, actually see a different word then the one that’s there? If the sentence doesn’t make sense, I go back over it and then, after the third or fourth time reading it, I see the correct word. Artificial lights bother me now too, never did before at all, so working, even part time, is out of the question. I actually feel clostrophobic on a windowless room or building when I cannot see outside and see daylight. I crave day/sunlight now. What makes it harder is that my spouse, from whom I was separated and with whom I had to move in after my savings were gone and kids don’t seem to believe me when I tell them about my sensory sensitivities. They think I’m just faking this so I don’t have to work. Being trapped in a dead marriage doesn’t help my condition.

February 7, 2011 at 7:41 am
(56) Shelly says:

Yes, I have the word problem also!! And yes, have to read it two or three times! When it flashes on tv for just a moment, I get so confused if I read it wrong and try my best to listen and try to figure it out! But my hearing is bad and I have tinitous. Have become very secluded, and only see people who understand.

February 9, 2011 at 1:52 am
(57) Adrienne Dellwo says:


You’re not the only one with the sensory sensitivity. These might help your family understand it better:

Light & Noise Sensitivity

Poll: Sensitivities in Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Take care!

February 5, 2011 at 2:57 pm
(58) Marsha B says:

Yes, I have problems with facial recognition (people I just met or people I’ve known 20 yrs), with forgetting where I put things (I keep THREE sets of keys, just in case, becuz I WILL lose at least one a day), and forgetting what a word is or how to spell it (and I’m talking simple ones here….light, doctor, etc) I’ve ALWAYS been good with words (proofreader) and names but now…so I got myself a Droid (smartphone) and an app called “Evernote”. I write EVERYTHING DOWN NOW. Where someone works, name, title, how I know them, mutual friends….and auto backup the files. So when I forget….

February 7, 2011 at 7:35 am
(59) Shelly says:

Yup! Me too! I thought it was just a sign of ageing as my mother also had this problem. And I realize it’s one reason I don’t socialize much any more.
Most frustrateing is not being able to get the right name out for my grandchildren. It tends to hurt their feelings. I go through a list of names, including my pets, until I find the right one, or say, “well, you know who you are”.

February 7, 2011 at 2:29 pm
(60) Anna says:

My husband gets frustrated with me when we are watching a movie because I can’t recognize actors. Well, I just took one of the tests on the web site kitkat posted, and I got average. Now I don’t feel so bad.

I always thought it was part of the aging process (even though he is older than I). Maybe younger people with fms also have this problem. I dunno. This is a mysterious disease, for sure.

February 7, 2011 at 9:57 pm
(61) leorising says:

Oh gods yes! I thought it was me!

February 7, 2011 at 10:13 pm
(62) leorising says:

Reading through the comments, I wonder if this is related to neurological stuff, or is it just that our memories are so bad? I always attributed my problem to my memory, which has been very screwed up since I’ve had fibro/CFS. It could all be of a piece — memory problems are probably a neuro thing, after all — but I wouldn’t go so far as to call what I have proposagnosia. Just sayin’; your mileage may vary.

Oh, and Moi, I have the speech thing, too. My speech used to be very clear, and now sometimes I sound drunk (haven’t had a drink in 25 years, though.) I think I’ve seen this around as either a symptom of fibro or CFS, because I remember reading it and thinking, “Oh yeah, that explains it.”

February 8, 2011 at 9:48 am
(63) Edna H. says:

I am so bad with recalling names! I will remember a person’s face and maybe even have some idea of where I may know them from or where I briefly may have encountered them. But as far as who they are by name, I am lost. If there are two people that look similar, I’m screwed. I don’t even try to learn twins.

February 10, 2011 at 8:17 pm
(64) Hip says:

As well as the temporal lobes, CFS, fibromyalgia (and also autism) also show abnormalities in the amygdala – and the amygdala is another brain area strongly involved in facial recognition.

So no wonder we have problems with facial recognition, with two facial recognition brain areas affected!

Myself, I had mild fatigue (CFS-lite, if you like!) all my life, and from the a very early age, always had difficulties in remembering people by their face, in following films, in remembering business contacts – all very embarrassing. Especially as I did not know that at the time about CFS.
More recently, I caught a nasty respiratory virus that soon plunged me into a more severe level of CFS, and my facial recognition declined even further.

As Adrienne nicely explains, if the actors in a film have the same hairstyle, then we are doomed! It seems that I can only “tag” people when they have some significant distinguishing visual characteristic. I am OK if the main actors have very different hair colors, or say one has a scar on their face, or better still, say one wears a bright red coat.

Otherwise, I cannot “tag” people well, and two similar-looking separate characters in the film will become a confusion to me (though usually half way though watching a film my brain finally starts to learn to distinguish between similar looking characters – but by then I have become a little behind with and confused by much of the plot!).

Interesting that people with autism also can suffer this facial recognition problem. Furthermore, in autism, there sometimes often is a problem in decoding and tagging facial expressions (to determine when a person is happy, sad, angry, embarrassed, etc)/

I never seem to have problems with decoding facial expressions as such; this faculty seems to be perfectly OK. I often feel, in fact, that I am more aware of subtle facial expression nuances than average.

Anyone else with CFS/fibro care to comment on their facial expression faculties?

February 23, 2011 at 10:49 am
(65) sue says:

I am relieved to find out that I’m not the only one. I have lived in this town for about 13 years and still don’t know who most of the people are. When I go to my hometown, I’m mostly ok, but here I can’t recognize my kid’s schoolmates’ parents and even some neighbors.
Doesn’t help with my popularity. I’ve thought about it being because I’m trying to concentrate on just getting from point A to point B, and so don’t have the room to recognize those around me but I don’t know. It’s very isolating.

March 20, 2011 at 4:03 pm
(66) cb says:


This is just starting to happen to me and I am lost for words. I am a mother of three children, college student, and work in the school system. Facial recognition has just started to happen to me. It has happened 2x in one week. First, I did not recognize my son’s basketball coach up close and then one day I picked up the wrong student from the bus area. I am scared, confused, and humiliated. This has never happened before.
What should I do?

October 17, 2011 at 10:40 pm
(67) Dayna says:

Yes! I have fibromyalgia and I was just trying to google it to see if it was related to my almost prospognosia like qualities. I don’t have it that bad where I would classify it as a disorder (I can regonize close friends and family), but I find myself reintroducing myself to the same people on multiple occasions because I dont regonize that I know them! I find this very distressing because I am in college and I shouldnt have a hard time with this.

September 6, 2012 at 8:17 am
(68) Sue says:

Yes, this happens to me all the time. Unless I see you very frequently or you are in the environment I met you in, it is very hard for me to know who you are. This just happened to me with someone on Tues. Occasionally, I will get a face mixed up with someone else. I am just now starting to tell people it is part of my disease (FM).

June 14, 2013 at 5:02 pm
(69) Christina says:

I know this is an old post but I just found it while searching “losing facial recognition”. I have had ME for nearly 34 years. Upthread there is a link to a facial recognition test which I aced. I had no trouble recognizing the people and even remembered most of the names until I got about 3/4 of the way through and was fatigued and then couldn’t remember any of the names. But, since it was not testing name recall, I aced it.

Like others, I cannot follow the plot of a movie or tv show if people look too much alike. My tv is small and I am sometimes plagued by blurred vision which may account for this.

However, it does not explain the fact that as I move through life I meet person after person who knows me — not well, usually a neighbour in my small apt. building or someone I talk to while walking the dog — and they recognize me immediately, know exactly who I am, call me by name and can recall the details of our last conversation. I would swear I had never seen them before. These are often people I have spoken to on multiple occasions and they are frequently my peers so I don’t think it’s just aging.

So, it’s not facial recognition because I aced the test. And, it’s not inattention because I really do attend to the people with whom I interact. I think it can only be memory. It is freaky.

December 22, 2013 at 8:38 am
(70) Fred says:

After 18 years of M.E./C.F.S.,this autumn I noticed for the first time that I could not remember new faces well anymore.I mean,there is passive recognition,but I can’t actively visualize someone I’ve met 4 or 8 times.Quite a shock,but I’m relieved that co-patients have the same.At first I thought it was alzheimer’s.

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