Who do I see in the mirror?

One way to understand a complex system is to locate its holes and find what normally fills them. The brain is a system like that and one way of identifying functions of the brain is to describe deficits.

Examples include aphantasia and face blindness. Aphantasia refers to the inability to form visualizations in ones imagination. Face blindness (prosopagnosia) describes the inability to recognize faces. There are many other deficits, each with a different set of symptoms.

The change in capability could be due to a malfunctioning part of the brain or a disruption in the connection between areas. Perhaps an injury or disorder has damaged part, pointing toward the purpose of that region. Sometimes the affected area of the brain is well understood.

For me, I can recognize people really easily. It doesn’t take me looking at a person ‘s face to identify them. The face is an easy point of access to knowing who a person is. However, looking at a person from behind is often enough for me to know who I’m approaching.

The hole that puzzles me is the difficulty of recognizing myself. I can see photos of me or look at myself in a mirror. I don’t think that it is someone else, but rather it’s a conscious act to recognize that it is me. Old pictures or new, none of them look like “me.” I just don’t feel the same connection to myself that I do with other people.

It seems that this would be something a psychoanalyst might have comments on, but therapists and psychiatrists don’t hear anything alarming in this. It’s more “That’s interesting.”

There isn’t a strong emotional impact on me with the issue, just that it seems atypical of how most people react to their picture. I don’t know.

I can recognize you, but I can’t recognize me.

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