Brad Pitt Reveals the Rare Medical Condition Behind His "Conceited" Behavior
People think he's being "egotistical," he says.
A megastar among megastars, you might expect Brad Pitt to come off as conceited—and he admits that he probably does. The reason, however, is not fame, fortune, or a sense of entitlement, but rather a medical condition that shapes and thwarts his social interactions. Pitt says he's often distressed by this ailment, which he says alienates others on a daily basis. Read on to learn about the surprising medical reason Pitt says he probably comes off as "egotistical"—and why you may know people in your own life who suffer from the same thing.
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Pitt says he suffers from this rare medical condition.
Pitt says he has extraordinary difficulty remembering people's faces, and believes he suffers from prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness. "So many people hate me because they think I'm disrespecting them," he told Esquire in 2013. "So I swear to God, I took one year where I just said, This year, I'm just going to cop to it and say to people, 'Okay, where did we meet?' But it just got worse. People were more offended. Every now and then, someone will give me context, and I'll say, 'Thank you for helping me.' But I piss more people off. You get this thing, like, 'You're being egotistical. You're being conceited.'"
Pitt admits that face blindness is a surprising condition for someone in his profession to have. "It's a mystery to me, man. I can't grasp a face and yet I come from such a design/aesthetic point of view. I am going to get it tested," he said at the time.
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Face blindness is surprisingly common.
It turns out face blindness may be more common than you'd think. According to the U.K.'s National Health Services, as many as one in 50 people has developmental face blindness, meaning they never developed the ability to recall or distinguish between faces, with no known damage to the brain. It is also possible to acquire face blindness through injury—though this is rare, the organization says.
"It's like dyslexia," Heather Sellers, author of a book on the topic called You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know, explained to Time in 2010. "I know what a face is, but it's really hard to read faces. [With dyslexia] you know what the word is, but you are going a lot more by context and it takes a lot of work [to figure it out]. It feels like walking uphill into the wind."
People with face blindness may find themselves relying more on external cues to help them recall a person's identity, such as a distinctive haircut or clothing style.
Pitt has never met anyone else with prosopagnosia.
In an interview for the August 2022 cover story of GQ, Pitt shared that he's never met anyone else with face blindness—but that he'd like to. "Nobody believes me!" he told his interviewer, the author Ottessa Moshfegh. When Moshfegh shared that her husband suffers the same condition, Pitt was intrigued. "I wanna meet another," he said.
He says that usually, new introductions come with a fear of offending others—a common pitfall of his highly visible and decidedly social career. Pitt says that due to his difficulty recognizing others, he no longer enjoys going out. "That's why I stay at home," he shared with GQ. "You meet so many damned people," he told the outlet. "And then you meet 'em again."
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His reputation is humble, considering his A-list stardom.
It's no surprise that people question Pitt's condition: After all, his behavior would be easily explained by his celebrity, whether due to entitlement or the constant carousel of social interactions his job provides.
Yet many interviews with those in Pitt's orbit reveal that his reputation is one of humility and genuine interest in others. In fact, he shies away from even calling himself an actor. "On forms, he lists his occupation as self-employed," wrote Moshfegh, adding that he bristles even more at being thought of as a celebrity. "I always liked it. It's a humble way to describe what we do," said Pitt. He adds that if a stranger asked him his occupation, "Well, I'd be very Midwest about it, very Missouri. I'd say, This and that. I'd say, I'm a dad, just like you."
So, if you happen to have the spectacular good fortune of meeting Brad Pitt more than once, don't take it personally if he doesn't recognize you. It's not vanity or celebrity, the star maintains, but rather an affliction he contends with when trying to connect with others.