From Chapter One of Electromagnetic Man by Cyril Smith:
Nikola Tesla, a prolific inventor and visionary in many fields of electrical engineering and electronics, was born in 1856 in a hamlet on the borders of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in what is now Yugoslavia . He was weak in health, but strong in his determination to succeed in electrical engineering. In his youth he had suffered both malaria and cholera. John J. O’Neill (1968), whom Tesla himself said understood him better than anyone else in the world, wrote the following in his Pulitzer-prize-winning biography of Tesla:
“Always an indefatigable worker, always using up his available energy with the greatest number of activities he could crowd into a day, always rebelling because the days had too few hours in them and the hours too few minutes, and the seconds that composed them were of too short duration, and always holding himself down to a five-hour period of rest with only two hours of that were devoted to sleep, he continually used up his vital reserves and eventually had to balance his accounts with Nature. He was forced finally to discontinue his work.”
O’Neill then describes in detail Tesla’s illness, which has many of the features of environmental hypersensitivity disorders:
“The peculiar malady that now affected him was never diagnosed by the doctors who attended him. It was, however, an experience that nearly cost him his life. To doctors he appeared to at death’s door. The strange manifestations he exhibited attracted the attention of a renowned physician, who declared that medical science could do nothing to aid him. One of the symptoms of the illness was an acute sensitivity of all the sense-organs. His senses had always been extremely keen, but this sensitivity was now so tremendously exaggerated that the effects were a form of torture. The ticking of a watch three rooms away sounded like the beat of hammers on an anvil. The vibration of ordinary city traffic, when transmitted through a chair or bench, pounded through his body. It was necessary to place the legs of his bed on rubber pads to eliminate the vibrations. Ordinary speech sounded like thunderous pandemonium. The slightest touch had the mental effect of a tremendous blow. A beam of sunlight shining on him produced the effect of an internal explosion. In the dark he could sense an object at a distance of a dozen feet by a peculiar creepy sensation in his forehead. His whole body was constantly wracked by twitches and tremors. His pulse, he said, would vary from a few feeble throbs per minute to more than one hundred and fifty. Throughout this mysterious illness he was fighting with a powerful desire to recover his normal condition. He had before him a task he must accomplish – he must attain the solution of the alternating-current motor problem.”
Tesla did eventually recover and later moved to America where, although his inventive and visionary powers flourished, they exceeded his financial prowess; he died in 1943, a poor man. Among his more spectacular research activities, he succeeded in setting his neighborhood buildings in mechanical resonance, producing a near-earthquake phenomenon to the alarm of the residents. Following his artificial lightning experiments he tried to set the Earth into electrical resonance as a means of communicating with the antipodes but this was thwarted by his overloading the power supply system. He considered that in the process of thinking, the brain probably produced waves, and that there was no reason why the waves sent out by one mind should not be received by another, with the resulting transfer of thought.
Like others who become electromagnetically hypersensitive (EHS), Tesla experienced phenomena bordering on the psychical. In his case, these included premonitions and the visualization of his life events. Tesla’s hypersensitive experiences must have helped his intuitive appreciation of the invisible electrical forces which he did so much to harness, and with such success. It is fascinating to realize that the person who can justly be called the ‘Father of Electrical Engineering’ must have received enough long-term exposure to electro-magnetic fields and frequencies through his pattern of obsessional working that he himself became what is probably the first well-documented case of allergic responses leading to hypersensitivity triggered by electromagnetic fields.