Jennifer Aniston on being diagnosed with dyslexia as an adult: 'I thought I wasn't smart'

Being armed with this new information changed her perception forever

Jenn Selby
Thursday 22 January 2015 10:37 GMT
Jennifer Aniston at the premiere of Life of Crime in 2014.
Jennifer Aniston at the premiere of Life of Crime in 2014. (Jason Merritt | Getty Images)

Jennifer Aniston is known for her sharp wit and comedic awareness.

But the actress was far from as successful at school as she has been on the screen. She struggled through childhood feeling insecure about the rate at which she was learning and making sense of the world around her, eventually coming to the conclusion that she just “wasn’t smart”.

“I just couldn’t retain anything,” she told the Hollywood Reporter.

And she carried on struggling right through to adulthood, before she was diagnosed with dyslexia during a routine eye test.

“The only reason I knew [that I had it] was because I went to get a prescription for glasses,” she said.

“I had to wear these Buddy Holly glasses. One had a blue lens and one had a red lens. And I had to read
 a paragraph, and they gave me a quiz, gave me 10 questions based on what I’d just read, and I think I got three right. Then they put a computer on my eyes, showing where my eyes went when I read. My eyes would jump four words and go back two words, and I also had a little bit of a lazy eye, like a crossed eye, which they always have to correct in photos.”

Being armed with this new information, she continued, changed her perception of her life forever.

“Now I had this great discovery. I felt like all of my childhood trauma-dies, tragedies, dramas were explained.”

Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling.

It can occur at any level of intellectual development and can impact on memory, organisation and sequencing skills, as well literacy and numeracy.

Speaking of her need for strict discipline to maintain a feeling of organisation amidst her chaotic life, she continued: “I’m a control freak. I like to be in charge of everything.

“My life was so out of control growing up, it’s very important today for it to be in control. I have to bite my tongue sometimes if I’m on a movie, when I think I can figure out how to make this problem that they’re having go smoothly. I just bite my tongue, especially with a [bad] director. Some directors are just like — oh, God, oh God, oh God! I [have to] just suffer through this.”

Aniston also spoke of learning more manageable ways to express her anger.

“I always thought, if you’re angry you just don’t say anything,” she said.

“I would come out passive, things would come out passively. But it doesn’t have to be black or white. You don’t have to be a hysterical human being and have veins pop- ping out of your neck and turn bright red and terrify people — or else keep quiet and put your head in the sand.

“I used to loathe confrontation. Loathe it. It was absolute.
 I understood anger, but I didn’t know that you should express it. Which has been something that I’ve really tried to work on.”

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