Hi, I struggle with switching around opposites. I’d literally think about turning left at the roundabout and end up turning right. The problem though is that it’s not a matter of switching left and right itself as I have never had a problem with identifying what is left and what is right. It happens with just about anything and has played a significant role in ending my career as a software developer as programming is fundamentally to do with binary and I started to switch true and false. I’d think I found a bug and correct it, only to realize I had been reading it the wrong way around and actually caused a bug instead of fixing it. It gets even messier after that as I would end up completely confused and unable to trust my own thought processes. I would be changing something in code and instead of making it so that it’s not doing something, I’d make it so it actually does it ( if that makes sense ).
I don’t understand why this is happening. No matter how hard I concentrate it keeps happening. It’s as though somewhere between my brain thinking one thing, and me doing it, it gets swapped around. Even with words at times where I’d use the antonym of a word when I meant the opposite.
A more confusing example is if I read a ruler. For example, the ruler would say 19mm but I end up reading it as 9mm, as though my brain automatically takes a short-cut as it notices it’s one line less than a cm and jumps to the conclusion that it’s 9mm. This has happened three times in a row and every time I think to myself “Ok, well now I know not to make the same mistake again” yet it still happens, as though I have no control over it no matter how hard I try.
Any advice and/or suggestions would be much appreciated. (From South Africa)
If I were taking a test in graduate school and this email was a case given to me and I were asked what I thought was going on, the first thing I would think of is that this very accomplished person most likely has a learning disability — one that they have compensated for and got by not having it been detected. You describe symptoms of learning disabilities dyscalculia and dyslexia
Dyscalculia is the difficulty understanding numbers, using them, and learning facts with them. Calculations are difficult and facts can get jumbled. Dyslexia, another type of learning disability, often happens when there is a functional confusion between left and right. As this article explains difficulty executing left and right is often found in children, but my experience is that if it isn’t identified then the adult will have compensated for it and it shows up in the ways you are describing. You can learn more about this condition here. There is also a piece of interesting research here, and a forum for those struggling with it here.
While my thoughts are not a diagnosis, they lead me to encourage you to get a thorough battery of tests by a neuropsychologist, or clinical psychologist with significant experience in educational testing. This will help pinpoint what is going on. More importantly, it will lead to solutions for coping with and overcoming these symptoms.
Wishing you patience and peace,