Latest Issue

Out of mind

Self-recognition reflects a higher form of evolution than the ability to recognise others. Some of my patients see their own doubles. Tom can't recognise his own face

By Paul Broks   August 2004

Tom lives at the edge of a wood. We look down across the meadow from his study and he picks out birch and beech, oak and sycamore. He spots wood pigeons and kestrels. According to my tests, Tom’s basic visual functions are fine. He has a keen eye. Yet the other week he mistook his wife for a complete stranger. She went shopping and came back wearing a new jacket. It threw him. On occasions he has failed to recognise his son. Tom is face-blind. He has a rare neurological condition, congenital prosopagnosia, which means he is unable to distinguish…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect