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Psychosocial consequences of developmental prosopagnosia: a problem of recognition

Yardley, Lucy, McDermott, Lisa, Pisarski, Stephanie, Duchaine, Brad and Nakayama, Ken (2008) Psychosocial consequences of developmental prosopagnosia: a problem of recognition Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 65, (5), pp. 445-451. (doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2008.03.013).

Record type: Article


Objective: To provide the first systematic in-depth description of the consequences of developmental prosopagnosia (DP; ‘face blindness’) for psychosocial functioning and occupational disability, in order to determine what kind of professional intervention may be needed.
Methods: Semi-structured telephone interviews were carried out with 25 people whose self-reports of face recognition problems were confirmed by impaired scores on the Cambridge Face Recognition Test. Thematic analysis was used to inductively identify and understand common psychosocial consequences of DP.
Results: All participants described recurrent and sometimes traumatic social interaction difficulties caused by recognition problems, such as failing to recognize close friends, work colleagues, and family members. These problems often led to chronic anxiety about offending others and feelings of embarrassment, guilt, and failure. Most participants described some degree of fear and avoidance of social situations in which face recognition was important, including family and social gatherings, and meetings at work. Long-term consequences could include dependence on others, a restricted social circle, more limited employment opportunities, and loss of self-confidence.
Conclusion: The potential for negative psychosocial consequences and occupational disability posed by DP is as great as that posed by conditions which are currently afforded professional recognition and support, such as stuttering and dyslexia. Wider recognition of the problems prosopagnosia can cause could reduce anxiety about social interaction difficulties by making it easier to explain and justify recognition problems to other people, including employers. Greater professional awareness could facilitate detection and referral of those requiring support with coping with social interactions.

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Published date: November 2008
Keywords: developmental prosopagnosia, qualitative research, quality of life, disability, social phobia
Organisations: Psychology


Local EPrints ID: 66811
ISSN: 0022-3999
PURE UUID: c64f4763-2a72-428a-ade6-bd23855ce14a

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Date deposited: 27 Jul 2009
Last modified: 19 Jul 2017 00:21

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Author: Lucy Yardley
Author: Lisa McDermott
Author: Stephanie Pisarski
Author: Brad Duchaine
Author: Ken Nakayama

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