"You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know"

You Don't Look  Like Anyone I Know by Heather Sellers

This is Heather Sellers' true story of growing up with prosopagnosia, or face blindness, a rare neurological condition that keeps her from recognizing faces. It's a difficult condition to explain to people because it isn't consistent; she may or may not recognize a face at any given time. She knew growing up that something was wrong, but didn't get an actual diagnosis until well into adulthood.

She describes it as taking a handful of stones, naming them, throwing them back among the thousands of other stones on a beach and trying to pick them out again. We'd never be able to distinguish one from the other. She says: "For face-blind people, a given human face looks more or less like all other human faces. They aren't able to organize fine distinctions in mouths, noses, cheekbones, eyes. The special processor, the face processor, isn't installed."

She wondered all her life if she was mentally ill but finally got a true diagnosis when she contacted researchers at Harvard and was invited to take part in trials. MRI scans of her brain while doing recognition exercises showed the areas of her brain that weren't functioning normally and resulted in the prosopagnosia diagnosis.

Since learning the truth about her condition she's done television interviews, met others with the same illness and written this book to help other sufferers. In the afterword she says: "I hope that, at least in some small way, this story will help steer others toward clarity, and toward love, in spite of the greatest odds."

Even without the aspect of face blindness Ms. Sellers' story is quite remarkable. She spent her teen years moving back and forth between her separated parents, her father an alcoholic and her mother a paranoid schizophrenic. It's a wonder she survived at all; it's amazing that she grew up, got an eduction and is now a successful university professor and authour. It's also refreshing that, in this day of blaming our parents for everything, she isn't angry or resentful toward hers, but loves them and is grateful for having them.

If you enjoy memoirs, don't miss this one. I think it will stay with you for a long time.


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