Scientists are a strange bunch of people, but their ideologies have led to the most incredible discoveries of all time. Unfortunately, some famous scientists were dismissed as morons during their time as many suffered from mental disorders that were not well-understood at the time.

In recent times, however, we recognize them as geniuses. But were they crazy geniuses or geniusly crazy? There is a fine line between genius and insanity. In this article, we shall discuss 6 real-life mad scientists and their peculiar habits or mental disorders. Did they become mentally ill because they were smart or were they geniuses because they had a mental disorder?

6 Real-Life Mad Scientists With Peculiar Habits and Mental Disorders

  1. Isaac Newton
Real-Life Mad Scientists With Peculiar Habits and Mental Disorders - isaac newton
Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton is mainly known for his discovery of the three laws of motion; force, inertia, as well as action and reaction. As a child, Newton was solitary and rarely interacted with other kids. Instead, he spent most of his time alone building miniature inventions such as mills and machines.

For most of his life, Newton had bipolar disorder, autism, and schizophrenia. He experienced bursts of anger directed at his family and friends, and in moments of depression, he would hallucinate and talk to absent people. Isaac Newton’s manic depression led to its romanticism as a requirement for creativity.

READ ALSO: 10 Habits You Should Adopt to Protect Your Mental Health

  1. William Buckland
Real-Life Mad Scientists With Peculiar Habits and Mental Disorders - William Buckland
William Buckland

William Buckland is remembered as the first man to write the full description of the megalosaurus, a fossilized dinosaur. However, this accomplishment is often overshadowed by Buckland’s more peculiar habits.

It is reported that he had a taste for peculiar things and could eat ANYTHING, including puppies, mice on toast, bat urine, as well as roast hedgehogs. Apparently, William Buckland’s ultimate goal was to taste every animal in existence. Crazy, right?

There is also a story that Buckland ate the mummified heart of the French king, King Louis XIV. The heart was passed to him during dinner with the Harcourt family in 1848 when he said, “I have eaten many strange things, but I have never eaten the heart of a king before.” He then ate it, and thus, William Buckland became ‘The man who ate a king’s heart.’

  1. Jack Parsons
Real-Life Mad Scientists With Peculiar Habits and Mental Disorders - Jack Parsons
Jack Parsons

The 37 years of the life of this modern-day rocket scientist were so eventful that he has inspired many movies/TV shows and things named after him, including a crater on the moon called Parsons. Some of the technology Jack Parsons helped develop as a rocketeer played a significant role during the Second World War. However, according to Wired, Parsons darker side of being a sex occultist got him written out of NASA’s history.

Parsons adventures began when as a young boy he blew up the toilets of his school in an experiment mishap. As an adult, Jack Parsons genuinely believed in magic and even joined a cult. Together with one of his partners, Marjorie Cameron, he is reported to have attempted to conceive a ‘moonchild‘ through sexual rituals involving nude women jumping a fire. A moonchild is a child with magical powers.

Also, his friend, L. Ron Hubbard, once convinced Parsons to summon a goddess to earth in a ceremony that involved several pagan rituals including, chants and him masturbating while Hubbard took notes. These are just a few of the peculiar things done by Jack Parsons. He died in an explosion thought to have been caused by an experiment gone wrong.

  1. Nikola Tesla
Real-Life Mad Scientists With Peculiar Habits and Mental Disorders - Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla was an unsung hero of his time. He is known for his profound discoveries in robotics, radio, and electricity. At age 28, Tesla immigrated to America from Europe and worked for the famous inventor, Thomas Edison.

One of Tesla’s peculiar habits was that he had an obsessive-compulsive disorder(OCD) that made him fixate on the number 3. His obsession with the number three resulted in Tesla having the urge to go around a building three times before going in, only staying in hotel rooms whose numbers could be divided by 3, and only swimming 33 laps a day.

Other signs of OCD that Tesla exhibited that were seen as peculiar habits include his dislike for any physical contact, reluctance to touch human hair, obsession with cleanliness, and avoiding germs.

After seeing bacteria through a microscope in his lab, Tesla would not eat or drink anything that was not boiled. He also had a distaste for jewelry or anything round including pearl earrings. These peculiar habits might appear comical, but they showed a man who was struggling with a serious mental illness.

READ ALSO: 7 Ways to Make Your Life Extraordinary

  1. Pythagoras
Real-Life Mad Scientists With Peculiar Habits and Mental Disorders - Pythagoras

The renowned Greek Mathematician, Pythagoras, is not only remembered for his mathematical theorems but also his strange aversion to fava beans. He advocated for vegetarianism among his followers but forbid them from eating fava beans.

The reason for this was not known entirely, but some theories say that Pythagoras believed that fava beans had a potential for life as they resemble fetuses or male and female genitalia.

The legend says that one time Pythagoras was under attack, and while on the run, he came upon a bean field but chose death rather than escaping through the area. His attackers then slit his throat as he tried to flee without having to go through the field.

  1. Kurt Gödel
Real-Life Mad Scientists With Peculiar Habits and Mental Disorders - Kurt Gödel
Kurt Gödel

Kurt Gödel was a great logician as well as a mathematician. His mathematical prowess, however, is not the only thing that landed him in history books. Gödel is said to have possessed a unique ability to strategize. He challenged longstanding beliefs and added new hypotheses to some mathematical calculations. 

As they say, being a genius comes with its share of crazy, and Gödel was not the exemption. Kurt Gödel was admitted to a sanatorium with a case of depression which relapsed soon after he was released. He hated meeting with people and though he would never turn down a request for an appointment, he would accept and not show up.

He was gloomy and suffered from depression which at the time was seen as a peculiar habit. Gödel is also said to have been extremely paranoid.


Being a genius is a gift. As such, it is so unfortunate that most often than not a mental disorder usually accompanies such talent. It is still unclear why this is the case. It is thought that the reason most scientists suffer from mental disorders is due to their use of a lot of their brainpower.

These famous scientists had the most brilliant minds in existence, and perhaps if they had access to professional help for their mental disorders at the time, we would not have these tales of mad scientists. In recent times, it’s rare to find someone with such a gift, and many people have resorted to methods such as the use of nootropics to become smarter. These work by stimulating the growth of nerve cells or by increasing the supply of oxygen to the brain. It’s still uncertain whether these drug supplements can really make you a genius. We can only wait and see.


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