Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary defines ARITHMOMANIA as “a morbid compulsion to count objects”.

Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary defines ARITHMOMANIA as “b. compulsive counting”.

I have arithmomania and I have had it for as long as I can remember. I’m still unsure if it is a blessing or a curse. Has it gotten better or worse over time? Not sure, but it has gotten more severe as I’ve gotten older. But…has it gotten more severe, or have I just gotten better at it?

It wasn’t until only a year ago that I discussed this with my wife. I always thought it was just the way my brain worked. Surely, nobody else would really be able to comprehend what my brain does on it’s free time.

My particular arithmo-flava centers in on geometric objects (better if they have corners) found in everyday life. Cabinets. Street Signs. Painted lines on highway. Bathroom tiles.

You get the idea.

I don’t actually count the number of objects. I count the angles, sides, corners of each object. Not the sum. Here’s a highly simplified example of what my brain does: Picture a white painted line on the highway. It is flat, so it has no dimension to it. There are four sides and four corners. Each side has two terminals (where the line ends at the corner). I tend to count those terminals on each corner. So in this example, each corner would have a value of “2”. So I would go around the painted line, counting 2, 4, 6, 8. Not too difficult, eh? Now, picture doing that to EVERY SINGLE PAINTED LINE on the highway while travelling at 65 mph. Now imagine applying that habit to a 3-dimensional object. How many line terminals can you count? Now, put yourself into a room that has tiles of all different shapes, sizes and thicknesses.

Now you might be starting to grasp the very edge of what I deal with constantly. It wasn’t until last year when I first stumbled upon this word and definition, and then yesterday – when I got an e-mail from a friend stating that he suffers from arithmomania as well – that I fully realized that I am not alone in my plight. I’m quite sure that the degrees of severity are all across the board. I like to think that my particular case is more severe than most, but it may not be.

How about you? Are shaking your head going “this guy is completely nuts!” or can you relate in your own life?