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Nikola Tesla Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk

Tesla Vs. Monk

    The fictional character Adrian Monk as portrayed by Tony Shalhoub, was a freelance crime consultant and former homicide detective with the San Francisco police. He appeared in 125 episodes of the program Monk which originally aired from 2002 to 20091.

    Over the years, Nikola Tesla has become an even more fictional character, a geek God.

    Both Monk and Tesla were geniuses. Monk directed his genius to solving crimes, one at a time. Tesla set as his goal the improvement of the lives of all humanity. Both were obsessive-compulsive with numerous phobias.

Nikola Tesla

    With Tesla it is difficult to sort out reality from his legend. Often a list of phobias ascribed to him are lumped together as though all of these continued for the whole of his life. In a passage from My Inventions, Tesla describes obsessions he felt as a child.

During that period I contracted many strange likes, dislikes and habits, some of which I can trace to external impressions, while others are unaccountable.
  • I had a violent aversion to the earrings of women, but other ornaments, such as bracelets, pleased me more or less according to design.
  • The sight of a pearl would almost give me a fit, but I was fascinated with the glitter of crystals, or objects with sharp edges and plane surfaces.
  • I would not touch the hair of other people except, perhaps, at the point of a revolver.
  • I would get a fever by looking at a peach, and if a piece of camphor was anywhere in the house it caused me the keenest discomfort2.

He suggests that some of those obsessions have passed by saying that "Even now I am not insensible to some of these upsetting impulses2." He then goes on to describe current obsessions.

When I drop little squares of paper in a dish filled with liquid, I always sense a peculiar and awful taste in my mouth. I counted my steps in my walks and calculated the cubical contents of soup plates, coffee cups and pieces of food - otherwise my meal was unenjoyable. All repeated acts or operations I performed had to be divisible by three, and if I missed, I felt impelled to do it over again, even if it took hours2.

    Other obsessions, irrational dislikes or phobias attributed to Tesla include:

Needed exactly eighteen cloth napkins in order to dine3.
Fat women, unstylish clothing on women4.
Maybugs and all insects5.
Tesla believed the number thirteen was lucky.

Adrian Monk

    In the episode, "Mr. Monk and the Daredevil," Adrian Monk declared he has 312 phobias6. Not all of these are listed over the course of his show and some that are mentioned overlap with others.

Those phobias which were itemized are7:

Uncleanliness: Dust, dirt, slime, spitting, touching.
Health-related: Germs, death, birth, infections, vomiting.
Danger: Risk, tsunamis, fire, lightning.
Foods and Liquids: Milk, mushrooms, egg whites, milk creamer, mixed vegetables, decaffeinated coffee, tap water.
Animals: Bees, hornets, cats, snakes, dogs, frogs, ladybugs, monkeys, mice, rats, possums, rabbits, tigers, spiders.
People: Dentists, crowds, lepers, naked people.
Objects: Needles, elevators, hailstones, round things, puppets, underwear, multi-colored pills, charcoal.
Locations: Elevators, tunnels, caves, rivers, glaciers, enclosed spaces, nature, "places."
General and common phobias: Fear of fear, imperfection, darkness, heights, noise, public speaking.
Miscellaneous: Bees in blenders, soccer riots, faces, clouds, wind, rodeos.


1. Monk (2002-2009) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0312172/?ref_=sr_1
Accessed July 23rd, 2013.

2. My Inventions, The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla, compiled by Ben Johnston, Experimenter Publishing Company, Inc., 1919, p. 15. Is it possible that Tesla's antagonism toward Einstein was due to Einstein's hair? As Tesla said in his poem, "Fragments of Olympian Gossip:"
Now a long haired crank, Einstein by name... Nikola Tesla, December 31st, 1934. http://www.pbs.org/tesla/ll/pv_gossip_pop.html Retrieved July 21, 2013.

3. Tesla: A Man Out of Time. Margaret Cheney, copyright 1998, p. 19.

4. ibid, p. 110.

5. My Inventions, The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla, compiled by Ben Johnston, Experimenter Publishing Company, Inc., 1919, p. 22.

6. A Major Study on The Psychological Disorder of Adrian Monk, In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement in Abnormal Psychology, Jennibeth D. Baculna, BA Political Science-Psychology IV, University of the Philippines in the Visayas, College of Arts and Sciences, Division of Social Sciences, Miagao, Iloilo. Copyright 2009.
Accessed  July 23rd, 2013.

7. Compiled from List of Adrian Monk's Phobias.
Accessed  July 23rd, 2013.

More to the story

Who was Nikola Tesla.
Who was Tesla, really?
Tesla versus Einstein
Health Advice from Nikola Tesla
Was Tesla anti-Semitic?

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copyright 2013, Martin Hill Ortiz