Community Forum

repeating words forward and backward

I have temporal lobe epilepsy and for as long as I can remember, at times during the day (when I am tired, stressed, etc...) I get a word stuck in my head that I repeat (in my mind)forwards then backwards. This goes on - back and forth - for awhile. Sometimes I get focused on adding numbers up and repeating the math problem forwards and backwards. I don't know if this is just a weird nervous habit or a symptom of my seizures. Has anyone else out there ever experienced this?


Hey, Coop,

I'm an obsessive compulsive, and so I use verbal and arithematic patterns to soothe me. To the average person, who cannot find the beauty in patterns and actually dreads homework, this kind of soothing may seem proposterous. Hell, I've even been called a savant. Talk is cheap. It's all about who gets the last laugh. I'd laughed harder about who made the honor roll than big, dumb bullies.

It may seem as if I'm going to start babbling but I'm not...

If all magels are gagles, then all gagels must be magels. How about, if all Canadians are Democrats, then all Democrats are Canadians? Now, is that statement true? ....if you started repeating magels and gagles in public, instead of Democrats and Canadians few would appreciate its intelligence, although many have read Dr. Seuss.

 What I did was a skill. I took the form of the original sentence, mentally replaced obscurity with familiar words, to interpret it. Creating structure from chaos. Dr. Seuss would do the opposite by taking a sentence structure and adding obscure rhymes. There's a wocket in my it a it a it a lizard? The opposite of getting order from chaos is getting chaos from order.

pattern thinking is a type of intelligence it's a TALENT or LTETAN.

Pattern thinking, logic...etc.. are beneficial.

Consider, the average person uses less than 10% of the brain's potential

And so, those who use 10% or more have an advantage!

Keep up the nervous habit, buy $0.99 dell word game magazines.

Hell, practice the Gross Domestic Product formula backwards: (M-X) + G+ I + C

Where did the gift come from? OCD, TLE, etc...Do we stare at the the label on a Christmas gift for hours or open it and enjoy the gift inside?





I love these comments!  My focus is in the temporal lobe area.  I have had surgery twice.  Just as I am trying to remember something a word will be repeated and it is a partial seizure and I sound like a broken record.  It sounds worped!  It gets weird at times when the word makes no sense and then I go into a partial complex and then I have know idea.  My friends say I hug or flap my hands in the air and stop speaking and sometimes walk in a circle.  After the seizure I cannot think straight and forgot the word I was saying!  That is only w/ the partial complexes only!!!!!!! 

The partials I will remember the word for the day.  I have to write it down.  My doc has witnessed me having a flurry of seizures and will do a math problem or ask me to spell backwards and the words stick in my head!

I understand only to well!


Hi there. I personally have never heard of this phenomena, but anything is possible. Perhaps this is some higher-order seizure activity, especially considering it happens when you are tired or stressed. If you think about it, when a seizure occurs it is a rapid-firing of neurons in a somewhat discernable pattern, that is most of the time they follow the same progression. These seem like higher-order seizure activity, ie. a response to an overabundance of activity but highly spontaneous and purposeless.


Sorry I can't be of more assistance. If your epileptologist or neurologist is a researcher they might very well be interested in hearing about this.


I could have written your post myself. I get words, songs and math problems stuck in my head all the time. Like you, it is usually when I am stressed or tired. My mind just races with whatever it is stuck in there, and I can't seem to stop it. I asked my doc about it, and she said it could very well be part of the temporal lobe seizures. Sorry to hear you have it, but glad to know I'm not alone.

((( hugs ))),

"We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can fly only by embracing each other." -lucian de crescenzo

Thanks for responding, Barbie. It helps to hear that I am not alone. I know people get songs stuck in their heads, but I've always wondered if it was to the same extent and the forward/backwards thing. At times, the intensity is ..... tiring :) I am thankful to find this website where I can ask all of these questions without feeling silly.

This happens to me sometimes too. Usually it's a phrase or a setence but it has been a number sequence like a phone number, too. xoxo

I only phase out. But I've been told that I've been told that I repeated words on one or two 9/11.

This is amazing to hear so many stories that are like mine. Just knowing that there are others going throught the same thing makes me feel comfort. I will get stuck spelling words in my head as I say them and I just can't stop! I will repeat what I said just the minute before because I forgot that I said it, even though I spelled out the whole thing!! Sometimes I feel like this is so much work!
Best of luck to everyone!!

Hello, I also have TLE, and I also have weird habits involving repeating word phrases. If I am actually having simple and complex partials that day I will think of, or hear the phrase somewhere, and then repeat it over and over in my head untill the sz has run it's course. Mine goes so far as to also have to consist of a phrase in sets of 5 syllables---don't ask me one has ever been able to figure it out---it has to be 5, 10, or 15 syllables, or it doesn't help me. The best way to describe it is a subconcious way of trying to "stay here" and focus my mind during partials. Sometimes when one is about to start I will say to my room mate (or whoever I'm around) "I'll be right back", and not go anywhere physically, and that's everyone's first clue.
As a weird coincidence, I've been having partials all day and have a few sets of song lyrics I've been repeating all day, so I'm glad I saw this forum, it's all really fresh in my mind.
Hope I don't sound too strange,

Wow! For me it is repeating a word in my mind like this "computer, retupmoc, retupmoc, computer" When it is bad, like if I am on overload while shopping, I get really tired from it. I am wondering if this is a form of seizure or an indication that one is coming, etc... I haven't lost consciousness from one in 16 years, but I do have the auras. I am aware of everything around me during a deja vu episode. Sometimes I get so tired that it is like I am under a magic spell. It is really hard to stay awake. Then it passes. I am pretty sure I am having partials in my sleep. Sometimes I wake up to a bad smell, that I can't pinpoint, or am just totally out of it. I don't know what day, month, etc... it is. Please let me know what you think.

 It amazing,I never thought to look on line. I take mrds for my peti mal seizers,but was having them in my sleep,wich consist of colored lights.I realized I was not taking one pill,but now seems OK. Word business drives me crazy,but if I take a Paxil when it starts,I quiet down.We all sound basically the same.  Hello to all.  Airon

What a relief to know others get this too (my neurologist quickly brushed it aside as some compulsive thing when I mentioned it so I've never spoken about it to anyone else).

I have TLE but also get seizures at night and I wake up with the words "stuck" in my head. They stay there until I've had a nights sleep but of course if I've had a seizure THAT night too then I wake up with a fresh set of words.

Oh well, makes a change!

Isn't epilepsy the weirdest thing? Do you think its possible to understand the impact it has on someone unless you actually have it yourself?

Reassuring to know others have pretty much the same strange things,I don't repeat words just count in my mind never more than ten,although I am bilingual it is only in english and non-stop day and night,Have TLE since age of 11 with no fits but other symtomes and was treated for 15 Years .Last 10 years no more problems until this counting started a year ago.Neurologist,doctor, Shrink all say they don't know what it is or how to treat it.brain scans Etc. perfect! Is there anyone who has the same problem which is so tiring?


Hi Silent,

In the past (thank goodness it rarely happens now!) I would get totally focused on adding numbers down to a single digit.  It was a weird obsession or habit that I couldn't stop no matter how hard I tried.  I would usually focus on license plate numbers but then it would include any numbers that caught my eye.  It was like the forward/backward word thing in that I would think 4 and 5 is 9 is 5 and 4.... ad nauseum.  It became a joke with close friends that I could look at a license plate and say the value of the numbers when added up almost instantly (for instance 2xxx479 = 4 because 2+4+7+9=22 and 2+2=4).  Of course, then I would have to search out other numbers that added up to 5 because the series would be incomplete if the final number didn't equal 9. Cray making for sure!

I have gotten so fed up with these habits that I have been noticing how I feel when I get the word thing (or number thing) going in my mind.  I get really tense and keyed up.  I have been trying to acknowledge the inner feeling of tension and the feeling of my 'engine reving' so I can try to consciously relax.  So far so good.  The whole thing makes me want to scream at times!

What is it like when you count?


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