Despite abiding by social norms when in public, many of us have our own odd quirks that reveal themselves once we’re alone or with people we really trust. Maybe you talk to yourself in strange voices. Maybe you have a weird food you like to secretly eat. Or maybe, you like to dress up in costumes and dance around your house.
Even though these habits might be considered “weird,” the truth is, they’re what make us unique. Still, there have been people throughout history who’ve had habits that, even by today’s far more accepting standards, were downright crazy…
1. Anneliese Michel: At age 16, Michel began experiencing blackouts at her school in West Germany. Soon after, she started telling her parents she could see and hear the devil, and that her body was slowly becoming possessed by demons…
Eventually, a priest named Ernst Alt offered to help the young girl. Over the next 10 months, he performed 67 exorcisms. Unfortunately, Michel’s body slowly deteriorated over the months, and she eventually died from malnutrition and dehydration. There was never an explanation offered for the apparent possession.
2. Margaret Howe Lovatt: During a special NASA-funded experiment where scientists tried to bridge the communication gap between dolphins and humans, a dolphin named Peter became obsessed with Lovatt, and Lovatt herself claimed they had a “sensuous relationship.”
After the project lost funding, Lovatt and Peter never saw each other again. Peter was so heartbroken Lovatt was gone that he actually committed suicide in his Miami tank. This might sound like a tragic love story to some, but to others, it’s definitely strange.
3. Lord Byron: Although known for his literary work, Lord Byron had quite a bizarre personal life not many people know about. At one point he adopted a pet bear and even had an intimate relationship with his half-sister.
At one point, Lord Byron moved to Italy, taught himself Armenian, and rewrote the entire Bible with what he considered better stories. He also had a “five peacocks, two guinea hens, and an Egyptian crane” roam through his home because he believed they were reincarnated souls.
4. Hetty Green: Born to a wealthy whaling family in 1837, Green amassed a fortune through equity trading. But she was so cheap with her funds it was absurd. Her son broke his leg once and she refused to bring him to the hospital; the leg eventually had to be amputated because of neglect.
She also had an intense paranoia. She took extremely long walks home trying to evade imaginary stalkers and earned the nickname “Witch of Wall Street” because of her strikingly odd behavior.
5. Henry Cyril Paget: Although he didn’t even reach 30 years old, Paget certainly made a name for himself. Inheriting the title of the fifth Marquess of Anglesey Wales at age 27, he became obsessed with having his picture taken wearing elaborate gowns — but that’s not all…
He also married his cousin and made her pose without clothing while wearing lavish jewelry. He was so obsessed with displays of grandeur that he turned his home into a theater and performed odd hypnotic dances. However, after two years of splurging, he was broke.
6. Carl Tanzler: After he died, some people labeled him a hopeless romantic, but Carl Tanzler was definitely a little bit left of center. It all started when the Austrian-born physician fell in love with a patient named Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyos.
He fell so madly in love with her that when tuberculosis tragically killed her, Tanzler stole her deceased body out of its mausoleum and kept it in his house for seven years before the family discovered it.
7. Gloria Ramirez: On Feb. 19, 1994, Ramirez was rushed to a California hospital when her heart rate increased to a dangerous level and her blood pressure severely dropped. Doctors quickly began to operate, but soon things took an unexplained turn…
There was oil covering Ramirez’s body that smelled like ammonia, and one by one, the nurses in the room started to faint. Ramirez sadly passed away that same night from heart failure, and the team that examined her body were forced to wear hazmat suits. Ramirez was labeled the “Toxic Lady” after the bizarre ordeal.
Theories as to how Ramirez’s body had such an effect surfaced. Some surmised the ill-stricken hospital workers were victims of mass hysteria; others think she was self-treating cancer with the poisonous dimethyl sulfate.
8. Diogenes the philosopher, 412 BCE: As a young man, Diogenes grew up in ancient Greece as a homeless beggar after giving all of his belongings away. He would eat pieces of old food straight off the ground and share the scraps with stray dogs.
He also often attended classes taught by the famous philosopher Plato but would disrupt the class by calling out or eating obnoxiously loud. He relieved himself in public, making him one of the strangest philosophers around.
9. Tarrare the French peasant, 1772 ACE: Born near Lyon, France, the person only known as Tarrare had an unquenchable appetite for food. So much so that he snuck into barns to eat animal feed, live animals, and even small rocks.
Tarrare became a soldier as the French Revolution started, but he was chronically ill from eating non-food items like stray cats and wood. Eventually, he died from his bizarre diet, and his insides were so rotten the pathologist performing the autopsy couldn’t even finish the job.
10. Sawney Bean: Some people believe the tale of Sawney Bean to be a fictional story meant to scare children, but others believe the story of the cannibal is real. According to legend, Bean and his family lived in cave, kidnapping and eating innocent people at night.
Apparently one night they tried to attack a skilled fighter, and the commotion drew the attention of local townsfolk. A search party was formed and the Bean family was captured in their cave and eventually sentenced to death.