Man Experiences Demonic-Like Facial Distortions Due to Uncommon Disorder

By iMedix
Updated 2024-03-27 08:07:16 | Published 2024-03-27 08:07:16
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Rare disorder causes man to see people's faces as demonic

In November 2020, Victor Sharrah from Clarksville, Tennessee, began perceiving people's faces as demonic, with distorted features like stretched ears, noses, and mouths, and deep grooves on their faces. At 59, Sharrah believed he had entered a world of demons, describing the experience as terrifying. Diagnosed with prosopometamorphopsia (PMO), a rare neurological disorder, Sharrah experiences distorted perceptions of faces in shape, size, texture, or color, but only in person, not in photos or on screens.

Researchers at Dartmouth College used digital imagery to replicate Sharrah's experience, providing a unique insight into PMO for the first time, with their findings published in The Lancet.

PMO symptoms are typically temporary, but Sharrah still sees these distorted faces. The condition is believed to be related to dysfunction in the brain's facial processing network and may be triggered by factors like head trauma or carbon monoxide poisoning, both of which Sharrah experienced.

With less than 100 case reports of PMO, researchers believe it's underreported. People with PMO recognize the distortions as a visual anomaly rather than a true representation of the world, differentiating it from psychological disorders. Misdiagnosis can lead to inappropriate treatment, such as antipsychotic medications.

Symptoms of PMO can vary widely among individuals. Some patients report drooping faces, while others, like Sharrah, see more exaggerated distortions. The condition is still poorly understood, with factors like movement exacerbating the distortions.

To manage his PMO, Sharrah wears green-tinted glasses in crowds, which inexplicably alleviate his symptoms. He hopes to help others by sharing his experience and advocating for awareness and proper treatment of this rare condition.

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