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Your recommended Dalí allowance: Famous bug-phobe Salvador Dalí (Public domain)

Salvador Dalí had a crippling phobia of grasshoppers.

There are two stories about how the world famous Surrealist developed his bug-phobia. According to one, as a child he was bullied by other kids (it was probably the moustache), who would pick on him by throwing crickets and grasshoppers at him. That’s enough to give anyone a complex, let’s face it.

But another more sinister explanation is that he suffered from Ekbom’s syndrome, a curious psychiatric condition that causes the sufferer to have delusions that their skin is crawling with bugs. And of the two, it’s this version of the story that seems most likely.

Dalí himself recorded in his own writings that he once became so obsessed with the notion of his bed being infested with bedbugs that he once took a razor blade to what he thought was a tick lodged in his skin:

I made a drastic decision, and with the savagery proportionate to my frantic condition and my horror I seized a razor blade, held the tick tightly between my nails and began to cut the interstice between the tick and the skin, which offered an unbelievable resistance. But in a frenzy I cut and cut and cut, blinded by the blood which was already streaming. The tick finally yielded, and half-fainting, I fell to the floor in my own blood.

In fact, when he came round, he realised he had been cutting away at a harmless mole on his skin.

Although misplaced, the delusion nevertheless plagued Dalí for the rest of his life—and led to insects, and in particular his most hated invertebrates, grasshoppers, becoming symbols of destruction and decay in his art.

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