Saturday, 2 July 2011

A chronic condition

Fantasy Bob rarely watches the television machine.  The risk of a visage to whom he strongly objects suddenly appearing out of the electric storm is just too high - settle down for some quiet enjoyment, and out springs a Cowell a Clarkson a Ross or a Norton.  The risk is just not worth taking, particularly now there is no prospect of Richie Benaud appearing anymore.

Oliver Sacks -
unrecognisable to himself
But by chance FB did come upon a programme of interest the other evening. It was about Oliver Sacks, the eminent neurologist who has written a number of books describing the peculiar conditions of his patients with damage of some sort to part of their brain. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat is perhaps the most well known of his books, and demonstrates how tenuous and fragile can be our hold on everyday reality.

In the course of this programme it was revealed that Sacks himself suffered a condition - the complete inability to recognise faces.  A condition formally named Prosopagnosia - from the Greek for the complete inability to recognise faces.  This was remarkable - asked to name a photograph of Elvis Presley and Oprah Winfrey, he stared blankly.  He laboured to work out from surrounding clues who the Queen was and hazarded a guess at Barak Obama.

FB had no idea such a condition existed but apparently 2% of people have it to some degree. Professor Sacks is at the extreme end - he doesn't even recongnise his own face.

Gradually it dawned on FB that this condition must be linked in some way to his own disability and he will be contacting Professor Sacks to invite him to investigate further.  FB's condition is known as straightoneagnosia - from the Greek for the complete inability to recognise a straight ball. This is a chronic condition and is probably congenital.  It can lie dormant for, well, minutes before bursting out again and spoiling an afternoon's enjoyment (for FB anyway, bowlers seem generally pleased by the outcome).  There is no known cure for this condition.

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