Face Blindness: Mum Can't Recognise Her Children Or Her Own Reflection

04/11/2013 18:43 | Updated 22 May 2015

A mum can't recognise her own reflection or her children's faces after she had a stroke while surgeons operated on her brain.

Tara Fall has also been unable to recognise other people's faces following the stroke 10 years ago. She suffers from a condition called prosopagnosia, or face blindness, and has to rely on a process of elimination to help her recognise people, including her two daughters.

The 37-year-old said: "If my kids were to change clothes when they're at school ... if they were to try to trick me, they'd probably get away with it.

"I've learned to cope quite well. I can hide it from most people. But on the other side, it's very intimidating when you don't know your kids."

Tara developed face blindness after having surgery to try to control seizures. She suffered a stroke during the operation, which damaged the right side of the brain that deals with recognition.

She is being treated by clinical neuropsychologist Dr Justin Feinstein, who said: "You could close your eyes and picture somebody close to you. Picture your mother or father and you could get a very vivid image in your head of what they look like. Tara can no longer do that.

"For 10 years now, her idea of what she looks like is still that same 27-year-old woman. It hasn't advanced."

Before she had the surgery Tara, who had suffered from epilepsy her whole life, was so worried that she may lose her entire memory that she jotted down details about her life, her children's names and her likes and dislikes.

But while she can remember everything from before her stroke, and has a great memory for conversations and other details, after the operation she could no longer remember faces.

The situation is made more difficult because her husband is in the Navy and serves overseas for long periods.

Her inability to recognise someone can happen in the blink of an eye. If she was talking to a person who then looked away and removed their glasses, she would be at a loss to who was now in front of her.

She said: "I recognise more the clues that fit the person."

While she has managed to learn to walk again, and takes part in research groups in the hope that one day a cure will be found, for now Tara has to rely on a process of elimination to figure out who is standing in front of her.


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