Wednesday, April 4, 2007

To Test or Not to Test?

One of the decisions you may need to make as a Prosopagnosic (PA) is whether to get tested or not. Its something I decided to do awhile back, while visiting London (see previous posts). I also arranged to meet Matt, another PA from my FaceBlind group list, while I was there in London. We talked a lot about whether it was beneficial to get tested.

Once you do get tested there is the burning desire to make sense of whatever you've just learned about yourself, and it is often easiest to do this by comparing notes with someone else who has taken the tests, or at least, understands the condition. All these new thoughts come tumbling out of your mind, as you try to reconcile and reorder your own image.

I met Matt (see photo) just after I got tested, and wished he had already been, so I could talk to him about specifics of the different tests. There is an implied "code of silence" about the PA tests, so as not to bias the results of future test takers. Matt took the tests a week or so after I did, and had a similar reaction to the results.

What follows in a short set of text messages between Matt and I about his initial reaction to getting tested. I thought it was something other PA's might appreciate. Thanks to Matt for his permission to share these thoughts:

Matt: "I am possibly one of the worst people Dr. Brad has ever met. I found that exhausting. And funny - I laughed through most of it, esp putting the faces in order:)"

Me: "Yes! That was the tough one. Congrats, you're mad;)"

Matt: "Hooray for madness, then. I'm in a pub having a soothing beer on my own, but I'm bursting to tell people that my stupidity has a name now. Perhaps I won't tho."

Me: "Wish I was there to have a pint with you. Tell them all! Cheers!"

Matt: "You're right tho - the people who need to know are the strangers who wouldn't understand. Those I feel I can tell are the friends I can ID anyway. Eeek."

So in the end, you have an official diagnosis, and it is somewhat of a relief, but then who do you tell?


Zannie said...

"To test or not to test" isn't really a decision I've had the opportunity to make. It's not like getting tested for HIV, where there's a clinic around every corner offering the test! The only places I know of that offer testing for prosopagnosia are at Harvard and wherever Brad is doing his research in London. Neither one is very accessible to me.

dori said...

There is also the option to test online, which in my mind, almost makes things murkier rather than clearing them up, since the online tests are not as sophisticated or numerous as what you would do at either of the Universities.

So I guess I should rephrase that question as, "If you have the opportunity to test, should you?"

Zannie said...

I'm actually not even sure why someone would choose not to get tested. I'm sure there are legitimate reasons one would choose "not to know," but that's not my way of doing things. I'd rather analyze and deconstruct.

That said, I haven't gone to great lengths to discover if there is some way I could get tested locally, even though I do live in a major metropolitan area. (I didn't when I first learned about PA, though, and I certainly tried then!)

Andrea said...

I would so love to get tested, but unfortunately I can't afford to travel to Massachusetts, let alone the UK! Anyway, I haven't been invited to be tested.

But I don't think the online tests make things murkier. They may not be perfect but they definitely prove that there's something wrong. Especially when you take the celebrity one a SECOND time and STILL miss one of your favorite actors! Ha!