7 "Eccentric" Geniuses Who Were Clearly Just Insane

#3. Nikola Tesla, Physicist & Engineer, 1856-1943

The Genius:

Finally getting the posthumous credit his work deserves, Nikola Tesla offered an astonishing number of contributions to science. Our personal support of Tesla is already well documented. And again. But, you don't have to take our word for it. Labeled by Robert Lomas as "the man who invented the 20th century", Nikola Tesla played a major part in the discovery of:


-A/C Electricity





-Nuclear Physics

The Insanity:

Tesla suffered from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. So, for instance, where Michelangelo's personal hygiene was appallingly bad, Tesla's was appallingly good--cripplingly so. Tesla was a severe germophobe and refused to touch anything bearing the slightest hint of dirt. Tesla also refused to touch anything round, which makes some quite obvious hurdles for an engineer.

Apart from dodging germs and round objects, Tesla's OCD manifested itself in threes. Before entering a building, he would walk three times around the block. When staying in hotels, he insisted on a room number divisible by three. At each meal, he would use 18 napkins: three stacks of six.

Why he needed 18 napkins instead of, say, three, indicates that he apparently was not afraid of a nice rack of barbecue ribs.

#2. Empedocles, Greek Scientist & Philosopher, 490-430 B.C.

The Genius:

Empedocles may have been among the most renowned geniuses in history if not for the fact that his stunning contributions to science are offset by his even more stunning contributions to bullshit. Some 450 years before Jesus, Empedocles discovered:

-That light travels at a speed

-That Earth is a sphere

-Centrifugal force

-That air is a substance, not an absence of substance.

-An (admittedly very crude) theory of evolution

-The Italian school of medicine

The Insanity:

Empedocles believed he was a god. Not in the 80's hair-band sense or the guy who can beat Mario Bros 3 in 11 minutes sense, but in the literal thunderbolts-from-the-sky and immortality sense. To prove his immortality to his understandably skeptical peers, Empedocles announced that he would jump into a volcano--Mt Etna--and pop back out unscathed.

From the words of none-too-impressed poet Richard Osborne:

"Great Empedocles, that ardent soul;

Leapt into Etna, and was roasted whole"

#1. Yukio Mishima, Japanese Author, 1925-1970

The Genius:

By age 12, Yukio Mishima had acquired a comprehensive knowledge of Oscar Wilde. At 24, he published Confessions of a Mask, which hoisted him to the top of Japanese literary circles. Over the next 20 years he published another 20 major works, was nominated for three Nobel prizes, and solidified his status as the most recognized novelist in Japanese history.

The Insanity:

The image you see up there is the cover of Mishima's essay, "Sun and Steel", featuring the author himself in his samurai sword/jockstrap combo. We've included text below for posterity, but any further argument for his insanity is probably redundant after having seen that picture.

In 1968, Mishima founded the cult Tatenokai, or Shield Society. The cult consisted exclusively of himself and homo-erotically well-physiqued teenage boys. They spent their time lifting weights, practicing martial arts, and swearing their unconditional devotion, not to Mishima, but to the Emperor of Japan.

On November 26, 1970, Mishima stormed the Japanese defense headquarters with the intention of overthrowing the country by coup. His forces consisted of:

-Four homo-erotically well-physiqued teenage boys

-A sword

With tremendous foresight, he soon realized he was a little under-equipped, and took to the balcony to recruit defense force personnel.

In a fervent speech, he asked a group of bewildered gawkers to hand up their lives for the Emperor, do whatever the Emperor asked of them, and accept the Emperor as divinity. There were two problems with his message:

1. It was 1970. The Emperor held zero political influence over Japan. He existed for people to wave at once a year and was in no peril whatsoever. The idea of dedicating one's life to his protection was the Japanese equivalent of asking people to give their life for Punxsutawney Phil.

2. The Emperor himself was nothing but embarrassed by the cult, publicly refuted his own divinity, and asked only that Mishima and his chiseled cabaret act leave him alone.

Unsurprisingly, Mishima's speech yielded a total of 0 recruits. Mishima stepped down from the balcony, returned to the room which he had barricaded, and committed Seppuku--ritual suicide. We're assuming this was most people's first clue that he was actually serious.

Read The 5 Most Baffling Sex Scenes in the History of Fanfiction for some prose that might drive you to insanity. Or check out The 5 Most Badass Presidents of All-Time for the stories of men who might have ended up in a white padded cell instead of the White House if they were born today

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