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Telepathy Vs. Autism

an undream event in Chris Wayan's dreamjournal, 1997/4/19

I'm in San Francisco with my friend Mark, at a contra-dance. That's a type of folkdance, not an anti-dance political movement, okay?

So I'm lost in a boiling sea of strangers. I have no memory for faces at all--I'm quite autistic and that brain module's missing. I once mistook a complete stranger for my sister. I only recognize people's voices, body language, and energy/mood.

A woman walks up I know that I know, but can't place the face--except my unconscious says she's from the Silicon Valley. Susan someone? But I refuse to call her that for some reason; as we talk a few minutes, I hide that I can't place her, waiting for voice and context to name this non-Susan for me.

Then Mark comes up. He knows her from other dances, yells "Susan!"

But she says "no, Mary."

Suddenly it falls into place. My old financial advisor Mary, from San Mateo! It's understandable I didn't recognize her, I haven't seen her in years. Though my unconscious did know her, even recalled where she was from.

But that's not the bizarre bit. Susan, huh? As if ESP tried to fill in for my facial-recognition problem--my mind cast around and latched onto Mark's misidentification a couple minutes in the future (because loud MUST be right, right?)... while some other part knew who Mary was, and vetoed my calling her Susan--but without supplying her RIGHT name!

The kind of dissociation this implies startles me--I thought these parts communicated better!

More proof that I'm not an I... but a we.

And that we're psychic.

Psychic and stupid.


I finally learned the name for the inability to recognize faces: prosopagnosia. According to neurologist Oliver Sacks, who coined the term, and has it (and he estimates as much as 2% of the population does!) most cases are lifelong and recalcitrant; other parts of the brain can't substitute. Learn to live with it! Or cultivate ESP.

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