I am a 20 year old female college student, and I have recently been "studying" myself by examining my earliest memories. I recently learned that I have schizoid personality disorder and I experienced a psychotic episode about 2 years ago. I remember having lots of strange habits as a child, and I have never been able to find anyone who has done (or will admit to doing) the things I did, so I have no idea how "abnormal" they were, and I'm interested in hearing opinions on whether or not they have any connection to my current psychological state. Also, if you are dealing with an unusually ornery child, I may be able to provide you with some insight.
The significance of the whole habit phenomenon occurred to me when I discussed my selective mutism here. I was selectively mute for 2 years between the ages of 6 and 8, but my memories of my mutism do not seem to match the common experience I read about here. I do not remember having anxiety about speaking, but rather choosing not to speak for a few days out of some kind of rebellious anger (I actually think this anger stemmed from adults bullying me about my other habits). Then when people reacted strongly, I knew I could not stop for fear of appearing weak. This followed the same pattern as many of my other habits. Here's a brief overview of the habit-phases I went through between the ages of 2 and 8, as I remember them.
- Age 2: I had a set of nonsense words that I would scream when I was angry. I could already speak quite well, but I always screamed the same words. My mom says she remembers me running around the house screaming them while she chased me with a hairbrush, a shirt I didn't want to wear, etc. Eventually some English words made their way into the routine, but there did not seem to be any significance to which words I chose. It is my belief that I chose both the real and made-up words because I had strong synesthetic associations with those sounds and anger. I had very vivid synesthesia as a child, especially with words, which later faded.
Also around this time, I was potty trained, but I refused to poop in the toiler and demanded a diaper every time I had to number 2. My parents used to bribe me with presents to get me to go in the toilet because they were sick of wiping my a$$, but I always turned them down.
Age 3-4: Wearing cardboard cat ears. I made a pair and wore them everywhere. Another weird aspect of this was that I always wore the headband all the way forward on the front of my forehead because I was convinced that that was how headbands were supposed to be worn, even though everyone told me it was wrong. Surprisingly, I remember letting this habit go pretty easily. I had this jerk preschool teacher who refused to let me where them in the classroom after a while, and I remember just being like "okey."
Around this time, I became obsessed with nudity. I would pull the clothes off my dolls and be disappointed if they had no anatomy and fascinated if they did. I began masturbating around this time and already fantasized about both male and female nude bodies, even though I did not know anything about sex. I never felt very interested in examining my own body.
Also around this time I developed weird mental rituals around the way people I knew wore their hair. My mom used to have very long hair, like me, and I flipped out when she cut it and was totally inconsolable. I remember quitting ballet because my teacher did not wear her hair in a bun one day and it made me anxious so I wouldn’t go into class. I had a similar fascination with hairstyle as I did with nudity. This one is really weird to me to this day.
Age 5: This was the real beginning of the habits as I referred to them in my intro. Two major ones surrounded writing. I had already learned to write before Kindergarten, and even though I did things non-traditionally, no one bothered me about it before that because it was not expected for me to be writing yet. So when the Kindergarten teachers tried to correct the way I held my pencil (with my fist) and tried to get me to write in both lowercase and uppercase letters (I only wrote uppercase) I put up the fight of a lifetime. I just had this strong knowledge that I could not allow them to have power over me. This was odd because I was still kind of a good two-shoes and I cried a lot when I got in trouble and was not afraid to look weak in other contexts. Anyway, my refusal culminated in me being dragged to the principle’s office, which I believe contributed to my SM later on.
Another habit around this time was refusing to say names. Instead, I would spell the name out loud. I don’t remember a lot about this one, but it never become obvious to most people so no one bothered me about it and eventually I just stopped.
Others included wearing my hair over my face like Cousin IT and clapping a hand over my mouth when I found something funny. Like the headband thing, I thought these things looked good.
Another was my refusal to say please, thank you, or I’m sorry. This one was undoubtedly a power struggle. The most significant memory I have from this time was dropping a snow cone on my uncle on purpose and making it look like an accident because I thought it was funny. Then my parents tried to make me apologize (not knowing I did it on purpose). The battle went on for weeks, and I just remember feeling the eyes on me during every confrontation and knowing I could not let myself give them the satisfaction. This one persisted until I became SM and then resolved itself when I began speaking again.
Age 6: This was when I became selectively mute. Before this time, I had always been a little shy and sometimes would not talk to people for a few days when I first got to know them. However, this was just in the wake of a number of struggles against my Kindergarten habits, and I was feeling very ornery. I did not talk on my first day of 1st grade and then it just persisted straight through until my 8th birthday. I talked to my parents and most of my peers, but no other adults, not even those in my family. I know this was not caused by anxiety. I did not like my voice, but I still let people I didn’t talk to hear it sometimes – just as long as I wasn’t talking TO them. Like I’d talk to my peers in front of my teachers, but never to my teachers. I held out against three different therapists. Another thing that tells me it was not anxiety was that one of my therapists asked me if it was perfectionism (I would nod or shake my head). When she explained what perfectionism was I remember shaking my head really hard and thinking to myself, “What the heck does that have to do with not talking?” There were even a few times where I would let my guard drop and accidentally talk to someone I wasn't talking to. If I got called out on it, I would turn to someone I was talking to (it always happened when people I did talk to were present) in front of them and vehemently deny it, claiming that I had been talking to the "safe" person the whole time. It really came down to not feeling like it, and when I finally decided to talk it was because it had gotten to a point where it was making things harder for me than it was for those around me.
So, if you’ve held out this far, or just skimmed, what do you think? I’ve only covered the major phases here. There were literally dozens of others interspersed with these. I feel like these early habits are related to my schizoidness in some way, either as a contributing cause or as an effect of its earliest manifestation. So, what’s the concensus?