9. Losing Your Own Body
At age 19, Ian Waterman suffered a near-total loss of his sense of touch as well as proprioception, the ability to know where your body parts are. Without proprioception, the movements that you have been able to do your whole life without much thought (such as walking) become almost impossible.
Waterman was told that he probably wouldn’t walk again and would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He was too stubborn for that, though. To perform many movements, he learned to replace his lost proprioception with his eyes and to plan all movements in advance.
With a lot of practice, he has regained his ability to make normal arm and hand movements. However, he still describes his walking as “controlled falling.”
Prosopagnosia was introduced into popular culture when Brad Pitt stated that he may have this condition. In an interview with Esquire in 2013, he said that he should get tested.
Prosopagnosia is the loss of the ability to recognize people’s faces. However, you can still identify them from other characteristics, such as a unique smell or style of clothing.
Until quite recently, it was believed to be a rare condition that only occurred in those with neurological damage—for example, someone who has suffered a stroke or head injury. However, it has been seen in people without such damage. It’s now believed that around 1 in 50 people experience prosopagnosia.
Another common belief is that prosopagnosia is associated with autism, but this is not the case. Although people with autism sometimes experience face recognition difficulties, the two conditions do not appear to be linked.