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June 18, 2012 8:40 PM   Subscribe

What's the opposite of someone losing facial recognition or facial pattern matching capacity?

You know how Alzheimer's or dementia patients lose the ability to remember faces?

Since most things have opposites, I started wondering if there an opposing condition?

Is there a mental disorder/disease/illness/injury wherein the patient starts to think or believe that all or most strangers look familiar? As in thinking they've known each other in the past but can't recall where or when or the name of the person?

Not that the patient is better at recognizing faces, only that the patient thinks it is so.

I was thinking this might make an interesting/different condition for a character in a story but only if it is a real thing, even if rare. I don't mind making one up if it doesn't exist.
posted by trinity8-director to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
Probably not quite what you're looking for, but Fregoli syndrome?
posted by Yma at 8:47 PM on June 18, 2012

Chronic déjà vu.
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:53 PM on June 18, 2012

Sounds like face blindness (prosopagnosia) with a confabulation compensation mechanism.
posted by supercres at 8:53 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe a touch of Capgras delusion as well. Though I have no idea how prosopagnosia + Capgras would play out. Perfect question for Oliver Sacks, who is affected bu the former and studies both.
posted by supercres at 8:58 PM on June 18, 2012

There's such a thing as super-recognizers, people who can recognize someone they have seen, even in a crowd. Years later. And they can recognize adults even if they first saw them as children. It was on 60 minutes recently.
posted by cda at 5:11 AM on June 19, 2012

I don't know if there is a name for this, but when I was a kid I started assigning new people to facial archetypes. I saw a lot of doppelgangers and it kind of descended from there. So if I see a stranger, I often feel I already know them if they fit one of the archetypes. They are organized by ethnicity. It's total bull, of course, but that's just what my brain does sometimes. It's died off as I've aged, thankfully.
posted by jwells at 10:28 AM on June 19, 2012

Great answers, everybody.

The more I thought about it, the more I imagine it as though the pattern matching part of facial recognition gets too loose or degraded, allowing matches on the slightest similarity. Which is a variation on jwells, except broader and not intentional.

In this case, the patient might, for example, think male of a certain age is her father, or any that has brown eyes and gray hair.

I feel a story coming on....
posted by trinity8-director at 10:20 PM on June 19, 2012

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