Bewildered by Distorted Faces: The Journey of a Man Suffering from Prosopometamorphopsia

The Bizarre Visual Disorder of Prosopometamorphopsia: Living in a Prolonged Nightmare

One morning, Victor Sharrah woke up to a terrifying sight. As he opened his eyes, he saw his roommate with pointy ears, giant eyes and a slanted mouth that extended to the edges of his face. Feeling scared, Sharrah tried to remain calm and took his dog for a walk. But as he passed people on the street, he noticed that they too had strange and twisted faces.

With fear gripping him, Sharrah began to panic and even considered being admitted to a psychiatric unit. However, after some research and speaking with experts, he discovered that he was not losing his mind. Instead, he was suffering from a rare vision condition called prosopometamorphopsia or PMO. People with this condition see distorted faces in various ways. While Sharrah saw demons, others may see elves or faces that constantly moved.

Despite experiencing PMO for over three years, Sharrah’s condition was unique in that faces on flat screens appeared normal to him. Researchers at Dartmouth College have created photorealistic images to depict how individuals with PMO perceive distorted faces. The exact cause of prosopometamorphopsia remains unknown but it is believed to be a symptom rather than a disorder with multiple potential causes.

Sharrah found relief in learning about PMO through an online support group. He now wears glasses with a green tint to alleviate the severity of the distortions. Although he has largely adapted to his strange new world, crowded places can still be overwhelming with “demons” surrounding him.

Many individuals with PMO face difficult decisions about whether or not to tell others about their distorted perceptions. Some choose to remain silent in order to avoid being perceived as crazy while others share their experiences like Sharrah in order to help others avoid unnecessary hospitalizations for psychosis and prevent others from experiencing the trauma they went through by raising awareness about this condition

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