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Letter counting/alphabetizing


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Wow I just made an account because I had to respond to this. I've been doing this letter/word counting on and off since I was 8 or so. I was just doing some reading for a college class (counting letters as usual) and I decided to look it up for the first time. My experience is similar in some respects to the other posts i've read, but also much different. It was never a real "back of the head" experience. When I started as a kid I counted on my fingers, and certain words on certain fingers felt "right." I still remember them, I know "Glasses" was my favorite 7 letter word, with 7 fingers up, and "Kristina" was my favorite 8 letter word, with 8 fingers up. I was also young so I was constantly asking how to spell certain words that I had to count, but didn't know how to. This stopped for a while and picked back up as an in the head thing, but I still count all the words in my head, as if they're on my hands. Its hard to explain. But I basically count in groups of 5, which allows me to count super fast, like some of the other people said. I can easily keep up with movies. I am also much more..sophisticated..with my counting now. I play all types of word games, not on purpose I should mention, I try to stop all the time. But I count letters almost instantaneous so now its more of mixing the letters into new words. So if some one says "What are you doing?" I change it to "Wheat groin Day ou" in about 5 seconds. "If she wants" becomes "we fish ants" Those are just ones I do a lot, but I make new words all the time. Haha I feel like I sound crazy but I'm just so happy I found this to vent on. Only my girlfriend and one other friend know about it, and I don't think they really understand the extent of it. I used to get really bad headaches and stuff. Exercising helps a lot but I count like a mad man when I go for runs, so it helps, but its so annoying during the run. Ive actually been going into a uhh remission? of sorts lately. So I'm praying it doesn't come back. But I hope all of your personal issues with it get better. Maybe some 6 figure job counting numbers will be created in the next couple years and we'll all be insanely rich letter counting secants.


But seriously I hope you guys are doing well.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Holy cow. Hi everyone. I started this post on this forum 11 years ago back when I was in college at Miami University in Ohio. Today was the first time since then that I happened to look it up and see if I could find it again. Needless to say, I was SHOCKED when I saw that this has gotten over 115,000 views and has gotten such a huge response. I'm now 31 years old and I'm still rocking and rolling. Things have gotten better than they were when I was in college, but I still count letters and alphabetize the letters in words. It's been great reading so many responses and seeing how well so many of you are doing. This is just crazy! Best of luck to everyone here!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm 59 years old and I alphabetize words, short phrases and especially license plates. There are other weird similar things I do also that are hard to explain. But the alphabetizing is the worst. I catch myself doing it all the time. I wish my mind would focus on more constructive efforts. I count the letters by their beat/rhythm, and if the alphabetized version doesn't match, I go over and over and over until I absolutely have it right. And then a couple of times for good measure. And then next thing I know I'm onto another word or phrase. I'm not even that good at it! It seems practice doesn't make perfect at all!


I also have an anxiety disorder, depression, and am impulsive/bi-polar. And through all of this I am fairly successful, run my own business with two other employees. am relatively happily married with three children and two grandchildren all of whom I am close to.


I'm just sick of all the alphabetizing. I am happy to know I'm not the only one, but I still wish it would bloody well stop! It's frustrating and irritating. I've never met anyone else who does this and others think it strange to say the least. It just seems unproductive, useless, wasted effort. It doesn't matter if I am happy / manic, or anxious / depesssed, these letters and numbers are always taking up a big chunk of my conscious and unconscious thought. I so wish I could turn it off.

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  • 2 months later...

Wow! There are other people that do this too! I am 11 and I have been alphabetizing since I was about 9 but I didn't tell anyone until yesterday. Is there anything else that it can help you with? I also have other weird habits. For example, if the TV volume was on 18/19, I would have to put it up to 20. The same with if it was on 8/9/11/12 but I would have to put it on ten then! However, if it was on 14/16, I wouldn't need to put it on 15/10/20. Weird!

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Hi all,

I'm so glad i've found this post, as 'alphabetising' is something i've been practising now for over 10 years.

For me it started when i was at school and learned to play the Piano, i was given finger exercises to stretch my fingers and i quickly turned this into a pattern game by where, starting with my pinkie finger and going up to my thumb, i would tap my fingers one by one against my thumb (when i got to my thumb i'd tap it on my palm) in the order 5-4-3-2-1, ending up with my middle finger, i'd then do it backwards ending up on my pinkie finger again. This then took on a variety of different forms, some using letters and some using melody. I'm a musician by trade so melody was something i was always fascinated in. I'd create melodies and split them into sequences of 5-4-3-2-1 (often adding an extra note to create a sequence of 16 notes, fitting into a 4/4 time signature) the first finger or note would always be the highest too, so if you think if it in musical notes, my pinkie finger would be an E and my thumb would be an A so the pattern would go E-D-C-B-A-B-C-D-E-D-C-B-C-D-C (adding in another D to get back to E to start the whole sequence again.)

Then words started to become more dominant in my mind, the 5-4-3-2-1 pattern that i practised stayed as it was and is something i still do today with my fingers, but a new practise of alphabetisation started to emerge; I broke the alphabet down into groups that satisfied my finger patterns and came up with a sequence that i now use to break down and alphabetise any word i fixate upon. The pattern is as follows;


Essentially i've split the alphabet into groups, each group being separated by a vowel. Each vowel is a group of it's own too so essentially you have 10 groups. Now for the sake of symmetry, i then took off the last group (thus creating 9+1 groups) (which you see is slanted) and that became a special group with each letter having unique properties. (I'll get into that later)

Now if you take the middle character from each group of letters, (groups with one letter you just take that letter) you spell a word which i consider to be the perfect word;


(not sure how you'd pronounce it)

Each letter also had it's own hierarchical value in that depending on what word i was breaking down, certian letters (or groups) would have order priority over others. So for example;

LAPTOP in order becomes ALOPPT

But using my system, vowels take precedence over consonants so to satisfy my order;


This is because the 'O' is 4th in the order of vowels and as such should come after it's subsequent group of consonants (PQRST) if it is positioned before the middle of the word.

Let's look at another example.

CAT in order becomes ACT

This satisfies my order as the A should be at the start as it's the first vowel

If it was COT however (which is already in order) then i would change that to CTO as the O has to come after the middle. This however is a bit of a dirty word as O shouldn’t really go at the end of a word (U or Z should) so i’d change the O to U and then have a completely different word to play with

I was talking earlier about the last group in the sequence VWXYZ, these letters have unique properties in that i classify them almost the same as vowels A/V=1 E/W=2 I/X=3 O/Y=4 U/Z=5

so if there was a VWXY or Z in a word it would have to come in that portion of the word. For example;

TAX in order is ATX

but to satisfy my order, (X being the middle of it’s group) it would change to; AXT


VAN in order is ANV

but to satisfy my order it actually goes back to being VAN (although like COT before this is now a dirty word as you can’t have an A in the middle of an ordered word) so i’d change it to VIN.

Just like a poster a few comments back, this practise has been the cause of anxiety and depression for me, i’ve recently been put onto SSRI’s and have been referred to a CBT clinic which i have varying degrees of confidence will actually do anything.

I guess i don’t really want anything to change, i’d just like to have some freedom over when i practise this in my head as i feel as though i can’t control when it happens and as such i’m missing out on a lot of creative and otherwise useful thought time.

I hope this has intrigued some of you as this is the first real time i’ve had an opportunity to explain my ways to an audience that will appreciate and understand it for what it is.

Thanks for reading. If any one wants to get in touch to discuss then please feel free my email is **


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  • 2 weeks later...

In response to KOALADEVIL, I'm not even thinking about putting my son on medication; however, HE has approached ME to help him stop doing this and it's my responsibility as a parent to figure out how to do that.


Not only does he count letters, but we recently found out that he counts in multiples EX: 7+7+7 until it equals 100, but he knows that it never will, so he begins with 23 +7+7+7 so that it'll = 100. He can do this with any #. He can also count backwards by any multiple you give him (from whatever # you give him). Ask him to count backwards from 1000 by 36, he can do it.


He can also group letters like I've never seen before. He groups them in 100's before he turns a page while reading.


He said when he counts letters, he doesn't actually have to translate a word into a number. It ( the # of letters in a word) just appears in a long line and he squishes it together to come up with the answer.


I think it's a talent that is pretty incredible!


He asked me to ask one of you if you'd be willing to e-mail him. He's feeling a little odd about this and would like to talk to someone who does this as well. Would someone be willing to e-mail him?


Thanks! Susan

Hi Susan,


I am 11 years old and I also alphabetize. I would love to e-mail your son about this topic. Just wondering, Is his spelling pretty good too? And does he get good marks on tests in school (Not spelling, But other English grammar type things)? I just did a test at my school and scored full marks on my grammar and 18/20 on my spelling. There is one guy called Jack who got 20/20 on his spelling. I want to ask him if he does it too but I figure it could be a bit embarrassing if he didn't!

Hope I can help :D



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  • 1 month later...

Woooooow ! I'm late lol but this is amazing ! I seriously thought this was just some weird thing I do , but there's other people that do it too ☺ I like things even so if it's not I'll add another number , letter , or punctuation mark .


For ex : The green pencil. That only has 15 letters , so I'll add an 's' to make it "the green pencils." , So it'll have 16 letters making it even.

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  • 7 months later...

Hi everyone! Today I realised that I don't actually know the name of my talent and decided to google it but all I found was this. Does anyone know how is this called? And do you know anything about it, like if it's good for anything or just uselessly cool? Some friend told me that this could be used in casinos (like in counting cards) because we obviously have some kind of system in our brains that allowes us to count letters so fast. I have been doing this thing for couple of years now and it started out of nowhere. I had a period in my early teens when all I did was count the letters. I would't listen to what someone is saying to me because I would be so focused on counting. Now it's more normal (or I just to it so often I don't even notice it anymore) So anyway it's nice to be able to talk to someone who does the same thing (if anyone responds). I have a bunch of questions about this. While I was writing this I started to get a serious desire to actually study this and explain it so if you are willing to help me please contact me :)

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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.

I've read all of the comments on here but yours is the one reminding me of myself the most. Thank you for sharing your experiences. greetings from m17 from germany

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  • 3 months later...

Hello, I've been having this same issue for about ten or eleven years but it's not quite the same as a lot of you. When I was 6 or 7 I started counting letters in words and I didn't even realise I was counting them, we were taught odd and even numbers in school so I subconsciously started to group those sentences together in letters of groups of 4, I picked 4 because it was an even number and things were a lot easier that way I think, anyway when I read things and they didn't have an even number of letters I always added on letters to them to make it even because it bugged me like crazy and it even came to the point where I may have invented my own alphabet by doing that, like I instinctively read a word and singled out the vowels and constants in it, I don't remember the number of letters, vowels or constants in it but I can instantly tell you if it's an even number of either one of these things, It's quite difficult for me to explain but I'm hoping someone here has this same kind of condition because I've never actually met anyone who does this but I always knew there had to be someone else.

I've tried explaining it to people and they either simply don't understand or don't believe me but it's great when they challenge me by giving me a long sentence, sometimes even with as much as 30 words and I tell them as soon as I hear it if it has an odd or even number of vowels, constants or letters and it's quite satisfactory but this can also drive me mad, like I could hear a song I like and start singing the lyrics and all of a sudden I'm counting the letters and adding more to the words and I feel like it's not a very nice song if the chorus doesn't have an even number of letters etc.

Even as I'm typing this I'm counting the letters like it's kind of fun to do and at the same time annoying and I've been told I'm not a normal 17 year old and that I should go get diagnosed for a mental illness but I don't think it's that bad.

If it's a case of OCD then it would explain a lot of things in my life, like how I can't stand when things are out of place and that things are never perfect like when I'm writing and I write a letter slightly wrong I start filling it and extending it to the lines on the page and just creating a mess without even knowing it but when I do get it I feel slightly satisfied or when shoes aren't perfectly alined beside each other and A LOT of other things

So basically things need to be perfect or else I get itches or it starts bugging me like crazy until I fix it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I started having this same issue following a head injury when I was 7. It began with an obsession with 12-letter words, and evolved into an almost constant dividing of letters in my head, and repeating them four times each. Most words and phrases I know the number of letters instantly. If words contain the letters I,j,t,or x, I also say those 4 times each. I have learned to control this after many, many years, but when I am stressed it gets worse.


I also have an issue with twitching my arms and neck that goes along with this.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 5 months later...

Wow I do the same thing but the perfect number is 25. I also sound out the letters in words to make 25 like in eight o'clock i would do ee-eye-ge-ach-te oh-ce-el-oh-ce-kay has 25 letters it's really hard to explain and it really pisses me off all the time because I don't really realise that I'm doing it and then I can't stop. I can sometimes spend more time counting letters in a book than actually reading the book. It really annoys me and I was wondering if there was anything I could do about it.

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  • 3 months later...

Hi everyone, on a whim I decided to google this letter counting thing I've been doing for the past 30 years and came across this forum. I knew I wasn't alone in this so I'm glad to see others do it too. It started in my twenties, I'm 53 now, and I would break sentences into letter groups of 5 or 7, to see if the sentence worked out evenly. I enjoyed it if it did but it didn't bother me if it didn't. I could go up to 40 or 50 letters lightning fast although I'm not that fast or good at it anymore. Too bad.

I used to do this as people spoke, or as I heard something on tv or radio, but not often while reading. For a while it was nonstop but now it only happens once in a while, although it's never really gone away. I mentioned it to a friend years ago, who was also a creative person, we're both architects, and she did it too!!! We were both surprised to find another who did the same thing and each of us thought it was our own little peculiar mind game. I think it's a talent that goes along with an ability to seriously multitask well.

It's never been a hindrance to anything in my life and I kind of like it now but in the beginning it was quite annoying at times, as I didn't always follow conversations well while doing this to some of the sentences spoken. I'm a very high functioning person, well up there in my career, and can spell like nobody's business, so to those worrying about their children doing this I can say to relax, it's unlikely to harm them in any way.

I also strongly disagree with the idea you might need drugs for this, you don't. It comes on strong in the beginning, and it's fascinating really, but it does wane over time. I enjoy the uniqueness of this talent, because that's what it is, a talent, and it's completely harmless.

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