Living in a Long Nightmare: Understanding Prosopometamorphopsia

Fear and Discovery: A Journalist’s Look into Prosopometamorphopsia

For Victor Sharrah, a typical morning began like any other until he opened his eyes and saw his roommate with distorted features. Pointy ears, giant eyes, and a slanted mouth that extended to the edges of his face left Sharrah terrified. Despite trying to stay calm, he knew something was off.

Fearing for his safety, Sharrah took his dog for a walk only to encounter more people on the street with equally strange and twisted faces. This experience made him believe he had entered a demonic world. But as terrifying as it was, Sharrah eventually discovered the cause of his hallucinations: prosopometamorphopsia or PMO.

PMO causes faces to appear distorted in various ways. While Sharrah saw demons, others may see elves or experience faces melting or changing colors. His condition persisted for over three years, and researchers at Dartmouth College created images depicting how people with PMO perceive faces in real life.

The cause of PMO remains unknown, but it is believed to be a symptom rather than a disorder. Brain injuries may not always be related to PMO as in Sharrah’s case. Only about 75 cases of PMO have been reported in scientific literature, but more individuals have sought help from experts due to the frightening nature of the condition. It is sometimes misdiagnosed as schizophrenia or psychosis.

Sharrah has learned to adapt to his condition by using tinted glasses that lessen the severity of facial distortions. Although he no longer wears them, the overwhelming presence of distorted faces in crowded places can still be challenging for him and many patients alike who face similar difficulties share their experiences with others risk being perceived as crazy.

Hoping to help others with PMO avoid unnecessary hospitalization for psychosis, Sharrah has decided to share his story publicly.

In conclusion, prosopometamorphopsia (PMO) is an unusual condition that causes people’s faces to appear distorted in different ways such as pointy ears, giant eyes and slanted mouths that extends beyond their edges of their face. The condition can be distressing and frightening for those who suffer from it but there are treatments available that can help them adapt

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