The World of Sir Nikola Tesla and His Bothersome OCDs

by Aadarsh Jain

The World of Sir Nikola Tesla and His Bothersome OCDs

April 24, 2021

Sir Nikola Tesla gained fame as a result of his visions and innovations in the field of alternating current electricity. But did you know that, like many other brilliant minds, he had a troubled life?

The present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine.

- nikola tesla

Tesla And His Disorders

According to several sources, Tesla first displayed signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in 1917, when he became fascinated with the number three. When he went to the public pool for his everyday swim, he swam 33 laps, but if he lost track, he’d start over from zero because he couldn’t leave the pool without it. Until entering any house, he would always find it necessary to circle the entire city block three times. Tesla always took a right when exiting a building and walked the entire block before considering himself “free.”

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Tesla worked from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day, with dinner at 8:10 p.m. He would then resume his job, which he would do until 3 a.m. He got his regular workout by walking 13-16 kilometres and curling his toes 100 times, which he claims stimulated his brain cells. He also developed a germ phobia, cleaning and polishing all of his utensils during lunch and insisting on three folded napkins on his lunch table, totaling 18 napkins. He also stayed in a hotel room whose number is divisible by 3 (he lived the last ten years of his life in suite 3327 on the 33rd floor of the New Yorker Hotel). He hated jewellery, especially pearl earrings, which he resented. When meeting new people, his fear of germs became so strong that he refused to shake hands and avoided touching hair. He was obsessed with pigeons and said to have been fallen in love with one. According to reports, he died a virgin too.

Most of Tesla’s work was seized by the US government and deemed “top secret” after his death at the age of 86 alone in the New York hotel room he called home. Tesla had worked on a “death ray” that was supposed to be a “superweapon” to end all wars for years. Many of his works were published years later, and they can be seen at the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade, which houses over 160,000 original documents and over 1,000 plans and sketches of his work.


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