What Mental Illness Did Howard Hughes Have?

Howard Hughes is thought to have suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder and a germ phobia. The billionaire movie producer, aviator and business tycoon became extremely reclusive at the end of his life, likely due to these disorders.

Hughes showed signed of OCD as early as the 1930s, with close friends reporting that he was obsessed with the size of peas and would meticulously arrange them using a special fork. Hughes also became obsessed with minor details of actor’s costumes while shooting movies.

After suffering a near-fatal aircraft accident in 1946, Hughes became increasingly reclusive and began to manifest further symptoms of OCD. He reportedly stayed in a film studio screening room for four months, subsisting solely on a diet of chocolate bars, chicken and milk. Hughes repeatedly watched the same films and also became highly critical of stains and other imperfections on his aides’ clothing.