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Letter counting/alphabetizing

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This is all very familiar to me. I guess I am not the only one with an obsession for words. I have been counting words for as long as I can remember and I am almost 30 now. I always thought I was the only idiot in the world to do such a useless thing all day long, until I found a show on tv where there was a lettercounter. They tested her on the show and I saw how everyone was amazed of her counting abilities. Truth was that I also counted alongside her and was just as fast/faster. This led me to believe there must be people like me all over the world and then I found this forum.

 

The good aspects of this obsession, in my opinion, is wanting to make perfect sentences. I have always gotten good grades on grammar and such stuff. I have noticed in the replies here that most of you are writing in perfect English without many mistakes. People that are counting letters offcourse need to know how to spell so that's not very strange.

 

Unlike most of the people here I am not so much into even numbers. My 'lucky' number is actually 7. I like this number because 14, 21, 28 are multiples of it and I like these numbers. I check most of spoken and written sentences on their ability to be multiplied by 7. I do this for both letters and sentences. Whenever someone speaks a sentence to me with a multiple of 7 words where the words are also a multiple of 7, I keep repeating that sentence in my head and recounting it to be sure it is correct. For example a sentence like: Tell me the number of words please. That sentence had 7 words and 28 letters which is perfect for me. If someone speaks a simple countable sentence like that to me btw, it takes me less then a second to know that the amount of letters can be divided by the amount of words.

 

Next to checking spoken and written sentences, I also have times in which I only want to speak sentences which meet the multiply by 7 rule. As one can imagine this leaves me with a lot of time in which I don't say a lot. It brings me in situations in which I have to adjust my sentences a lot before I can speak them. Sometimes I want to say something for some time but haven't found a way to properly use it in a x7 sentenct. It can also bring me in situations in which I add words which make no sense in the sentence. All this takes a lot of time and causes me to say weird stuff at times. It does affect my regular life in a negative way. After reading most of your stories I think I have more problems with it then most people here.

 

My concentration also suffers a great deal from all the calculations. It happens a lot to me when someone is speaking to me and I can't really understand what they are saying because I am too busy dissecting and multiplying their words. In some cases I just ask them to repeat what they said for maybe 2 or 3 times after they spoke like 3 sentences of text to me. It causes people to be reall irritated with me because they think I am just daydreaming or not really paying attention. The fact is I cannot stop the counting. I wonder what someone will say when I would say the truth to them: I didn't get what you just said because I was counting the words you just spoke and then divide it by the amount of letters in that sentence, in the hope of it being dividable by 7. This seems to me to be the most idiotic thing that you could ever say to another person.

 

When I am writing this, it forces me to think about the counting and the bad things it brings me. The reality is that all of this is so weird, in my opinion that I do not dare to speak to people about it. To me it is almost as bad as being addicted to alcohol or something like that. It causes me to do bad at school and not being able to carry out normal witty conversations. I wish I was just addicted to harddrugs sometimes instead of this compulsive behaviour because doing drugs, as an external behaviour can be stopped more easy then your brain going mad over every sentence you hear. I am wondering how many people in the world actually have this. I am guessing it would be something like 1 in a million or even less.

 

I can only dream of a world without counting letters and words. If I would never in my life count letters I have no idea of what I could accomplish. The handicap hasn't stopped me from getting a high school degree but it has taken me a lot of time. Without it, I might just have been the president of the USA.

 

 

I do not know your name, and I know your post is from almost one year ago. I just made an addition to this forum trying to explain my condition, but it is really hard for me to explain it and always has been. Then I stumbled across your entry and felt like you and me are exactly the same and do exactly the same things. Pretty awesome, as I thought I was alone with this obsessive counting thing. Cheers!

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You're definitely not alone with this, my dear. Like you, I felt I was on something of an island for so very long. What an amazing breath of fresh air it was to discover that I wasn't the miswired freak I thought. As a bonus from your response, I gather that you're British (?), which means my oddity stretches well beyond the limits of my own small world. That's...pretty cool. Anyway, I've learned to embrace my quirks, or "ticks" as I've always referred to them. There's a small part of me (an admittedly silly part at that) that's afraid that if the "ticks" go, then so does my creative nature. I mean, how can I be sure that these ramblings in my mind aren't just the words and hobbies of a bored muse trying to pass the time until he gets to work again? I know, odd, but still, that thought is there. So, I embrace it, work around it when necessary, and allow myself to feel that it sets me apart somewhat in a world where I've rarley felt that at all.

Cheers to you as well, and take care of your own "ticks." They just might turn out to be your favorite part of who you are in the end!

By the way - my name is Steve. You can call me that if we ever cross paths again. ^_^

 

 

This is all very familiar to me. I guess I am not the only one with an obsession for words. I have been counting words for as long as I can remember and I am almost 30 now. I always thought I was the only idiot in the world to do such a useless thing all day long, until I found a show on tv where there was a lettercounter. They tested her on the show and I saw how everyone was amazed of her counting abilities. Truth was that I also counted alongside her and was just as fast/faster. This led me to believe there must be people like me all over the world and then I found this forum.

 

The good aspects of this obsession, in my opinion, is wanting to make perfect sentences. I have always gotten good grades on grammar and such stuff. I have noticed in the replies here that most of you are writing in perfect English without many mistakes. People that are counting letters offcourse need to know how to spell so that's not very strange.

 

Unlike most of the people here I am not so much into even numbers. My 'lucky' number is actually 7. I like this number because 14, 21, 28 are multiples of it and I like these numbers. I check most of spoken and written sentences on their ability to be multiplied by 7. I do this for both letters and sentences. Whenever someone speaks a sentence to me with a multiple of 7 words where the words are also a multiple of 7, I keep repeating that sentence in my head and recounting it to be sure it is correct. For example a sentence like: Tell me the number of words please. That sentence had 7 words and 28 letters which is perfect for me. If someone speaks a simple countable sentence like that to me btw, it takes me less then a second to know that the amount of letters can be divided by the amount of words.

 

Next to checking spoken and written sentences, I also have times in which I only want to speak sentences which meet the multiply by 7 rule. As one can imagine this leaves me with a lot of time in which I don't say a lot. It brings me in situations in which I have to adjust my sentences a lot before I can speak them. Sometimes I want to say something for some time but haven't found a way to properly use it in a x7 sentenct. It can also bring me in situations in which I add words which make no sense in the sentence. All this takes a lot of time and causes me to say weird stuff at times. It does affect my regular life in a negative way. After reading most of your stories I think I have more problems with it then most people here.

 

My concentration also suffers a great deal from all the calculations. It happens a lot to me when someone is speaking to me and I can't really understand what they are saying because I am too busy dissecting and multiplying their words. In some cases I just ask them to repeat what they said for maybe 2 or 3 times after they spoke like 3 sentences of text to me. It causes people to be reall irritated with me because they think I am just daydreaming or not really paying attention. The fact is I cannot stop the counting. I wonder what someone will say when I would say the truth to them: I didn't get what you just said because I was counting the words you just spoke and then divide it by the amount of letters in that sentence, in the hope of it being dividable by 7. This seems to me to be the most idiotic thing that you could ever say to another person.

 

When I am writing this, it forces me to think about the counting and the bad things it brings me. The reality is that all of this is so weird, in my opinion that I do not dare to speak to people about it. To me it is almost as bad as being addicted to alcohol or something like that. It causes me to do bad at school and not being able to carry out normal witty conversations. I wish I was just addicted to harddrugs sometimes instead of this compulsive behaviour because doing drugs, as an external behaviour can be stopped more easy then your brain going mad over every sentence you hear. I am wondering how many people in the world actually have this. I am guessing it would be something like 1 in a million or even less.

 

I can only dream of a world without counting letters and words. If I would never in my life count letters I have no idea of what I could accomplish. The handicap hasn't stopped me from getting a high school degree but it has taken me a lot of time. Without it, I might just have been the president of the USA.

 

 

I do not know your name, and I know your post is from almost one year ago. I just made an addition to this forum trying to explain my condition, but it is really hard for me to explain it and always has been. Then I stumbled across your entry and felt like you and me are exactly the same and do exactly the same things. Pretty awesome, as I thought I was alone with this obsessive counting thing. Cheers!

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This forum is brilliant! I've been an obsessive counter for years and thought I was just a weirdo...so relieved and totally fascinated to know I'm not the only one!

 

I count EVERYTHING I see and get annoyed if it doesn't add up to a number I like...7 & 13 are my favourites and also any multiples of 5 or 10.

When I count the number of letters in a word or sentence, if the 5th or 10th number is a vowel I have to rearrange the letters in my head so the 5th or 10th number 'lands on' a letter like T or P which I consider 'solid' letters...how weird is that?!!

 

I do this really quickly though and can have a conversation with someone whilst secretly doing all this is in my head. If I mess up and know I've miscounted, I remember the sentence or word and have a recount, sometimes tapping my fingers to help or saying the letters under my breath really quietly.

 

When I'm driving, I have to add up all the number plates around me and get a bit panicky if a car pulls away before I've added it all up.

 

And going to the extreme, I even count the number of 'pen strokes' per letter - so A would have 3, L has 2, M has 4 etc and after I've counted the number of letters in a word, I go back and then count the number of pen strokes I would make if I was writing it down (if I have the time!)

 

You would think that all of this takes ages, but I can do it in seconds and don't really put much thought to it, it just happens.

 

Strange. :)

 

Thanks for sharing guys!

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I don't count letters, but I've been rearranging the letters of nearly every word I read or hear alphabetically since I was twelve. And while I'm doing that, I'll go through the motion of typing the rearranged word, even though I don't always have a keyboard in front of me. It doesn't really intrude upon my life, but my brain always has to be busy.

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I can't believe what I'm reading. I thought it was just me that counts. I count everything and sides of eveything then I have to divide them by five. I count sides of bricks in a wall ( four sides and a middle for every brick so it can divide by five), I count white lines on the road, in fact I count sides of everything I see and I can't help it. If I have my eyes closed I sing a tune and count the notes or see a picture in my head and count sides of things in the picture.I just can't stop!I was reading some of the old posts and read the one about counting sides of digital numbers - I do the same and again count the sides and the middle of each part of the number. I can count one thing in my head at the same time as something externally so I have two lots of counting going on at the same time. it's exhasting only I don't really want to be able to stop doing it as that feels too scary.

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I'm 38 from the UK and found out that the fact I could count letters in words extremely fast was unusual when I was 13. As lots of others have mentioned, ever since it has been used as a party trick which never fails to impress.

 

I constantly count sentences I hear or read (sometimes I have to read the same sentence over again as I'm not concentrating on the actual story, just the counting!). My weird way of doing things is I will break a sentence in half depending on the amount of words in it, i.e. "We went to the park today and ate ice cream.". "We went to the park" is 15 letters, "today and ate ice cream." is 19 letters, that gives me 15 and 19 .... there are 7 letters in fifteen and 8 letters in nineteen, giving me 7 and 8 to work with .... there's 5 letters in seven and 5 letters in eight, giving me 5 and 5 .... there's 4 letters in five, so that gives me 4 and 4 .... there's 4 letters in four, giving me 4 and 4 and then I can go no further, that's where my little habit ends .... phew!!! No matter which numbers I start with, they all come down to a four as four is the only number that has the same amount of letters in it. If a sentence has an odd number of words in it, I ignore the middle word and just concentrate on the words either side, i.e. "I had my hair cut but didn't like it.". This gives me 10 letters in "I had my hair" and 14 letters in "but didn't like it.", ignoring the word cut. If both halves of the sentence have the same amount of letters in them, I'm a happy bunny!!!

 

I get frustrated with words like "all right/alright" - should it be 2 words, therefore 3 and 5 letters, or 1 word of 7 letters - it really shouldn't matter, should it?

 

I can tell how many letters are in sentences of near on 100 extremely quickly - I'm sure lots of you will also have been read countless beer cans and cigarette packets by others to show off your talent! My husband once rang me while he was studying at college with some of his friends to show me off and read out part of a task they had been given by their tutor. I said there were 53 words and they said no, there were 52. We went through the sentences again and I said there was definitely 53. It turned out their tutor had spelt a word wrong!!!

 

I can also spell words backwards automatically and read them backwards without too much hesitation.

 

Like another member, I also am obsessed with reading number plates, not necessarily making words out of them but just reading them, for some strange reason. I often find myself when I'm driving doing it and try to stop mid-plate, but it's extremely annoying and I worry I'm not concentrating enough on the road around me. However hard I try to stop, I just can't. I also constantly grind my teeth, which was something I wasn't aware of until the dentist pointed it out, but hard as I try and no matter how much I put my tongue in the way, I can't stop and always wake at night grinding them - aaarrrrggggghhhhhh!!!! One of my back teeth is going to crack soon!!!

 

Another member mentioned that they have lots of neck ache. I have mobility problems due to congenital issues I was born with, and after having 3 kids in less than 4 years, I now have 3 herniated discs, 2 of which are in my neck and press on my spinal cord constantly. I am in pain with this all the time and haven't worked for 17 years. I now wonder if my constant counting may have in some way contributed to this .... interesting!!!

 

I have also noticed how all the entries in this forum are nearly perfectly typed spelling and grammar wise - we're obviously a fussy bunch!!! As another member described, I also find text type infuriating - I tell myself to never type 'LOL' or similar as it's just not right!!! I'm very fussy when it comes to grammar and punctuation, much to my sons' annoyance, bless them. I have learnt as I've got older though that I'm the unusual one that has to get it all right and is lucky enough to be mostly able to, other people have to work hard at it and learn all the rules of spelling and grammar, whereas it comes naturally to me (I say that, I'll bet one of you will find a mistake in this entry!!!).

 

I am a tidy person who likes order and hates anything out of place, though as the only woman in a house of 4 males, and being on medication for my spinal problems to help me relax, I am getting a lot better at not getting stressed if something is out of place - I still don't like it though!!!

 

As someone who can't get a job as she would constantly be taking time off with spinal problems, I would love it if there was something out there that I could put my talent to good use with and earn some money for myself. I'm lucky enough to have a very loving and giving family, my husband's fantastic, but to be able to give something back that's not just looking after the children and cooking the dinner would mean the world to me.

 

It's been great to read about everyone else's experiences with this - maybe one day we can all make something special out of our unusual talent.

Edited by VonSox

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I did a similar thing with counting during conversations except I would pick out all words in a sentence that had an even number of letters then I would total the letters. Sometimes I would do this with syllables. This was probably the least bothersome OCD tic I've had though, lol.

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Great to know that I am not the only letter counter in the world!

 

I started doing this when I was 6 and at that time I simply counted all the letters in any sentence I heard using my fingers, one by one. After a while, I guess I got bored and I stopped doing it altogether.

 

I am 25 now and a couple of years ago I realized that I can count the letters in any word in just a couple of seconds. My surprise was that nobody else was able to do it!

 

I count letters in quite a simple way: when I hear a word (e.g. Popocatepetl), I break it up in blocks of roughly the same sizes (popo + cate + petl) and quickly add them (4+4+4=12). I can do it both in my native language (Bosnian) and in English if I know the spelling of the word. I turn this ability on only if I need it and it does not get in the way of my every day life.

 

I also have a pretty high IQ and I read extremely quickly, but I am not sure if these things are related or not.

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I'm. Not. Crazy!!! I'm fourteen, about to be a freshmen, and I've been to embarased to tell anyone about my "counting." I've read most of these posts and I have a lot in common with most of the people on this forum. I have to try to make the letters of the words, or sentences, fit into incriments of twos, threes, fours, or so on until I can make it fit with a period at the end. I'm so glad I'm not crazy! I've been doing with for about four years or so, and I have several ocd symptons but I always thought it was just coinsidence. I don't feel like I need to get this fixed, because it doesn't really disturb my life. Oooh wow,I'm just so glad I'm not crazy!!!!

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Yeah, I'm 12 and have OCD pretty bad. Like I always count the letters in words or sentences, especially if the phrase is important or "controversial". Like I can tell you that controversial has 13 characters in the word. I'll also find the average word length in a sentence. I used to think I was different than anyone else, and now I realize that I'm not so different.

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Interesting to find this. I'm 50 years old and have been alphabetizing since I was about 12. It was an obsession from the period I was 12 to say when I was 18. I actually got headaches from alphabetizing everything that I thought, heard or saw. I got very good at it. I used to entertain my parents' friends at parties and actually performed at a school fundraiser. At the fundraiser people came up, paid a quarter (this was back in the 70s). They got a piece of paper and wrote down their word, then alphabetized the letters on the paper (taking them minutes to do) and then they'd try to stump me. If they stumped me they got a dollar back for their quarter. I made $58 for the school that night. I would literally alphabetize their word and say the letters within two seconds of their uttering it. It was a big hit. Once when I was a kid, Johnny Carson (for those too young check him out on wikipedia) had an alphabetizer on his show. My parents woke me up and we watched it. When Johnny gave the guy a word I alphabetized it twice as fast as his guest...crushed him...but Johnny's audience was amazed by the guy.

 

I haven't been obsessed by this for many, many years but I can still do it very fast when asked but not as lightning fast as I could when I was young. I guess I've lost a step as they say in sports.

 

My brand of alphabetizing has a twist. I can only do each letter once so if a word has two ns in it like say "perennial" (which has two es and two ns) then I see it as "aeilnpr" not "aeeilnnpr". It's the only way I can do it. I slow down to normal human speed if I have to say both es and both ns. Strange I know.

 

I've never sought a doctor's help or advice and, until now, never considered it part of OCD.I just Googled it for the first time today and found this forum. I just told my wife that I found this forum and people are linking alphabetizing to OCD and she said, "Gee, d'ya think?" So I guess I have an OCD and didn't even know it. It's OK, I have a pretty normal life and have a very good one thus far.I actually view it as a special talent.

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I am 17 years old and have been counting the numbers of letters in any sentence that runs through my head for as long as i can remember. Any phrase i read, hear or think i count the number of letters. I then obsessively organise the words into sets of 10. If they do not fit into sets of 10 i will change the sentence or add punctuation. I like my words to add up to multiples of 6 with 48 being my favourite. I always thought i was weird for doing this but its good to read about other peoples experiences. I drive myself crazy with this but i dont know how to stop.

i think i have an overactive brain and i always have trouble sleeping. I panic if volumes arent at a multiple of 5. Ive also got a strange ability to remember the dates of events for everything as far as 3 or 4 years back. This memory has been associated with aspergers and autism. Do you think i should seek medical advice for this?

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I realize this topic is somewhat old now, but I have a novel - where novel is to mean that it has not so far been listed - experience to share. My ex girlfriend's sister did something exceptional with words and I've never met anyone else who did this. Given any sentence, she would identify the letter furthest in the alphabet, determine how much that letter must be 'shifted' in the alphabet to become z, and then shift all other words accordingly. We'll take my name as an example: Brendan. R is the latest in the alphabet, and it must be shifted by 8 letters to be 'z'. Doing this to all the letters now: b -> j, r -> z, e -> m, n -> v, d -> l, a -> i, n -> v. Brendan is then Jzmvliv. Now, this is easy when sentences contain a z, but she would also sometimes choose to work with each word individually! This would greatly increase the calculation involved, but she would always spit an answer out in under 5 seconds!

 

As for myself, I do all sorts of things with words. I'll translate them into numbers and sum them, or I can very quickly count the number of letters in a long word (15+ letters). Somewhat related is the calendar calculating I do, though I'm not especially good (by this, I mean that I do this one date at a time; nothing too crazy).

 

It should be noted that I also have a 'high' I.Q. - I put the term in quotations to indicate relativity, as I know a few people with much higher I.Q. - and that this behavior may be more common among the highly intelligent (though this is a personal observation, not one that I've researched in any depth). I am a member of The Glia Society, and have an I.Q. between 150-165, the bulk of my scores at the lower end thereof.

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I really had no idea there are a lot of people having these kind of issues. It's kinda a relief that i'm not alone or really strange

When i was younger, about 9-12, there was a long period where i always had to count everytime i turned around, if it was left or right. If i was sitting in a car and we had already turned left 3 times, and only 1 time to the right, after a while i'd feel very uncomfortable and i just needed to turn right or something in my head was telling me horrible things could happen. So as soon as i was somewhere alone i'd turn 2 times to the right again to make it even, and i'd feel ok again.

After a while it just somehow left. But lately it's back again, but in a different form.
Now all the letters have a number, and i know all those numbers. I always count almost every word or sentence i say,see or write. It has to come out as an even number, or else i have to chance my sentence to make it even or i'll feel really uncomfortable..
I still feel strange about it, like i'm just not normal.. i'm afraid to tell my boyfriend about this, although i know he wouldn't judge me.

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Hi,

 

Very good to read this forum and know that I'm not alone. I'm 25 and have been an obsessive counter since I was around 13. Just wondering if anyone is similar to me? In addition to counting I have a little "competition" for every word I see/hear that it's vowels vs consonants. A vowel in a word will counteract a consonant (and vice versa), and whatever number I'm left with I tense on my fingers/hand - hope that makes sense!

 

Also wondering to what extend this "hurts" people's heads and gives them headaches. Sometimes I feel like hitting my head just to get it "all out" of my head...does everyone else experience a negative physical reaction like that?

 

Has anyone had any success with CBT and would recommend it?

 

Thank you very much.

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