Chef’s Terrifying Visual Disturbance: Inside the World of Prosopometamorphopsia

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

One morning, Victor Sharrah awoke in a state of terror as he gazed upon his roommate with pointed ears, enormous eyes, and a mouth that curved towards the edges of his face. Trying to maintain composure, Sharrah took his dog for a walk, but the people he encountered on the street had equally bizarre and distorted visages. Feeling as though he had entered an otherworldly realm, Sharrah began to panic and even contemplated being admitted into a psychiatric institution.

It wasn’t until the 58-year-old chef from Clarksville, Tennessee, sought assistance from experts that he learned the truth about his condition: prosopometamorphopsia, or PMO. This rare visual disturbance causes individuals to perceive faces in various ways. While Sharrah sees demons, others may see elves or faces that are constantly moving. Despite experiencing PMO for over three years, Sharrah’s unique condition is that faces on flat screens appear normal to him. Researchers at Dartmouth College have developed photorealistic images to depict how individuals with PMO perceive distorted faces. The exact cause of prosopometamorphopsia remains unknown; however, it is believed to be a symptom rather than a disorder with multiple potential causes.

Through an online support group, Sharrah discovered relief in learning about PMO. He now wears glasses with a green tint to alleviate the severity of the distortions. Although he has largely adjusted to his new surroundings, crowded places can still be overwhelming with “demons” surrounding him. Many individuals with PMO face a challenging decision regarding whether to disclose their unusual perceptions to others. Some choose silence to avoid being labeled as crazy. However, Sharrah chose to share his experience in hopes of helping others with PMO avoid unnecessary hospitalizations for psychosis. By raising awareness about this condition, he aims to prevent others from experiencing the trauma he endured.

One morning, Victor Sharrah awoke in a state of terror as he gazed upon his roommate with pointed ears, enormous eyes, and a mouth that curved towards the edges of his face. Trying to maintain composure, Sharrah took his dog for a walk, but the people he encountered on the street had equally bizarre and…

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