I think pretty much everyone has had a person in their lives that they’ve become infatuated with. It doesn’t even have to be “in love” or a relationship like that because infatuation doesn’t have to be romantic. Look at all the people out there that become entirely enraptured by meaningless celebrity gossip, and other such IQ destroying garbage in the media. In a way, people live vicariously through celebrities and the like. But, I’m not talking about the people that demonstrate stalking behavior who are likely to suffer from a mental disorder, moreso the weirdos. In psychology, there’s even a term for this called celebrity worship syndrome.
In the age of social media, something that’s supposed to bring together everyone, we’ve never been so divided. We wait for likes while being jealous of those who have more than us, and scroll down comparing ourselves constantly on a subconscious level to others. The hilarious thing is that all these comparisons are made through fake expressions of people and have no objective value. They present themselves the way they want to appear to others and not even close to who they really are. Still, people constantly critique themselves to these “fake” others, and constantly bring themselves down slowly, shattering their own identities. Just what is it that makes us care SO MUCH about things that mean nothing? Why are humans so obsessed with other humans to the point it is detrimental to oneself?
Well, according to evolutionary biologists, humans are programmed to revere people who are famous because they are successful in society. A critical factor in survival programmed into humans on every level of our biology. So, it kind of makes sense that many people who are controlled by their primal nature become infatuated with celebrities and successful people. It takes a certain level of self-awareness to break free from this basic instinct, which is something the masses lack for the most part. Humans are much more driven by the unconscious and instinct than they’d like to believe in the modern age, and with all the constant distractions everywhere all the time, it’s no wonder the majority of contemporary humanity has little awareness.
But then again, this obsession with others can take on a more emotional level with OLD (obsessive love disorder), which causes a person to become infatuated with someone they think they may love. People who suffer from OLD may become controlling to the point of abuse in an attempt to protect their love object, and their entire lives can revolve around the person in an extremely unhealthy way. OLD usually is just one aspect of a larger problem of out of control mental health illnesses. It can turn people into raving lunatics concerning “the one” they’ve become obsessed over.
A person suffering from OLD can show extreme jealousy over… really nothing concerning their love and how they interact with others. Often it is not even sexual or inappropriate, but the person suffering from OLD will come to those conclusions in the most bizarre ways. An OLD sufferer, if rejected or broken up with, will do insane things. Like texting, repeatedly over and over the person, they’re infatuated over. Or they call over and over even though they don’t get a response back. They often lose touch with friends, family, and hobbies and interests to focus their attention solely on the person they’re obsessed over. They will frequently monitor their obsession and will need reassurance constantly.
It can be incredibly terrifying to start a relationship with someone who suffers from OLD.
However, other disorders cause an obsession with other people as well. Such as DSED (disinhibited social engagement disorder). RAD (reactive attachment disorder), and borderline personality disorder. And then there’s, even more, such as erotomania, delusional jealousy, and OCD. Delusional Jealousy syndrome is particularly disturbing because the person of obsession could have had no friendly interactions with the person whatsoever, and even be outright rejected or told to fuck off. Instead, that person will have delusions all the feelings of love they feel for their obsession are reciprocated. People who suffer from delusional jealousy don’t see how their person of an obsession “really” acts towards them. They only see the delusions in their mind, which can lead to horror movie-level activity.
So, there is no shortage of disorders and psychological conditions that lead someone to become obsessed with another person. But just how far does this infatuation usually go? Usually not past the point of death… for the most part. Because for Carl Tanzler, he was willing to do whatever it took to remain with his object of obsession.
Carl Tanzler was born in 1877 in Dresden of the old German Empire. He became fascinated with the medical field and science at a young age and would grow up to become a doctor. He got stuck in Austria just before WW1, studying weather patterns. After the war, he returned to Germany and eventually migrated to the United States. He got married and had some kids but abandoned them and focused on his career. Doctor Tanzler would then be fated to generate one of the most macabre love tales ever. Truth is always stranger than fiction.
As a child, Tanzler claimed to have intense visions. Regularly he was visited by the specter of a long-dead ancestorCountess Anna Constantia Von Cosel. In these visions, the Countess revealed many esoteric things to the young boy, but the most profound to Tanzler was the ancestor’s revealing of his one true love. The image of his future perfect match burned itself into his skull, and no woman he ever met could match up to the childhood visions.
It’s stories like this that bring into question the truth of the Doctor’s past because when he talked about his own history, it seemed to change over the years or depending on who he was talking to. Such as him claiming to have been captured during ww1 by British soldiers despite no evidence of such captivity. And there’s really little evidence to back up his medical degree and knowledge, but he could sell himself, and everyone believed him.
Anyway, Dr. Tanzler ended up in Zephyrhills, Florida, U.S. Marine Hospital in 1927 with a changed name. This was at Key West, the home of the weirdos, and home to many strange tales. So the Doctor was right at home. And it was while working there in 1030 that he saw the woman shown to him in his visions from childhood. Elena Hoyos was the exact replica of the vision his ancestors showed to him.
The dark-haired 22-year-old beauty had had a rough life. Daughter of a cigar maker from Cuba, she’d recently been abandoned by her husband after she had a miscarriage. She was brought to the hospital by her mother after showing troubling signs of illness, and it did not take long during her stay to be diagnosed with tuberculosis, which was fatal back then. And sadly, the majority of her family had already perished to the disease.
Dr. Tanzler was convinced she was his one true love from his visions, and instantly became utterly infatuated with the young girl. So, despite not really being a doctor with the qualifications to actually treat Hoyos, he threw everything he had into saving his “love’s” life. This includes some pretty crazy stuff like homemade potions, elixirs, and miracle medicines. But he also used primitive x-ray equipment, among other bizarre contraptions he claimed would work. He was determined beyond reason to save his one true love destined for him by the visions of an ancestor.
However, despite his overwhelming attention, there’s zero evidence Hoyos felt anything back towards the man in any way whatsoever. She never showed him back the delusional affection he tried to show her and was probably pretty weirded out by him. But there he was going out of his way to help her. Showering her with gifts, and promising to cure her. He visited her every day with utter devotion and always bringing promises and presents. So despite her most likely being creeped out by the old German guy, he did give her a little bit of hope. While he was claiming they were destined to be together and nothing could stop their fated love, she was just trying to survive. And with her family not having much money to throw around, humoring the Doctor seemed like her family’s best chance.
Though despite all Tanzler’s insane efforts, Hoyos died from her disease in October 1931. Her family and recent stalker she’d placed her hopes on were utterly devastated. And her family had little funds for a funeral. But the Doctor had plenty of funds and offered to pay for the funeral of his one true love, as well as throwing down the hard cash for a straight-up stone mausoleum. Her parents said yes, of course, not being aware of how crazily obsessed the old German truly was. Oh, and he also paid for the mortician and everything—the whole kaboodle.
However, the clever (or deranged) Doctor Tanzler arranged the burial in a way that he’d be the only one that had the mausoleum key. And if you thought this tale was already weird, this is where the weird gets dialed up to 11.
For two years, the obsessed doctor visited Hoyos’ grave EVERY SINGLE NIGHT to mourn the loss of his one true love. The girl’s family thought this was pretty out there, just like his actions during her last days of sickness, but just let the crazy older man be, which was a terrible idea. Doctor Tanzler got fired in 1933 for, who knows what, this guy was kind of nutty, so it could have been anything. But, now being free of his job, he didn’t want to go every single night to his love’s grave. So, he used his key to open up her grave and abducted Hoyos’ decaying corpse to take it home with him.
Visions of her haunted him, telling him to take her from her grave home with him so they could be together like destiny intended. She called for him to free her of her stone prison. Her spirit even visited him as he stood by her grave on many visits, where he’d sing to the ghost and bring her peace.
So Tanzler took the body home and used coat hangers and wires to stitch the corpse together in an attempt to make it more…solidified and life-like. He then stuck glass eyes in her rotted face. For a bit, the corpse seemed to be fine, but entropy and decomposition can never be stopped. As Hoyos slowly became skeletal as her skin degenerated worse and worse, he’d just put soaked wax and plaster put over silk cloth. Maintaining the corpse became the good Doctor’s full-time job. Her internal organs decaying created a miasma of stench that he attempted to cover up with copious amounts of perfume. And to make sure her body stayed in her original body shape without organs and muscles, he just shoved cloth rags inside her was needed as the body decayed. He even used real hair to replace hers as her scalp deteriorated.
He basically did everything he could think of in a DIY manner attempting to preserve her. Mortician’s wax is his favorite way of preserving her face. He would dress her in her own clothes she wore in life, as well as her jewelry and other belongings. But he also bought her clothing and other women’s attire from public stores, which is what drew attention to him because he was a weird loner hermit and all his neighbors knew that he lived alone and no woman ever came around to show interest in him. Back then, people were really judged for that kind of stuff, so he was favored to gossip about.
Whatever stories his community talked about concerning his odd behavior, nothing could have been more bizarre than the truth. Tanzler not only preserved the body of his one true love but kept it in his own bed. For seven years. And he even installed a tube with lubricant so he could have sex with the corpse. Yea, this is dark and easily one of the strangest tales in American history. But nothing lasts forever.
One day a young boy saw the good Doctor dancing with what looked like a human doll through his window. And rumors abounded that he’d been sleeping with the corpse of his dead love. These rumors drew the attention of Hoyos’ sister, who knew the Doctor only to have one true love, her long-dead sister.
Hoyos’ sister got pretty angry at the idea of her sister’s memory being desecrated and went to Tanzler’s home to get to the bottom of the rumors in the community. After a heated confrontation, she pushed her way into his home where she thought she found a life-sized doll of her dead sister. Thinking the Doctor was crazy, she called the police, and it was soon discovered it was no life-like doll, but the actual corpse of Elena Hoyos. The Doctor was immediately arrested for grave robbing and desecration.
Upon his imprisonment and interrogation, the psychologists came to the conclusion he wasn’t insane and able to stand trial like a normal person. This is despite the Doctor stating that his final intention for his stolen corpse love was to fly her high into the stratosphere so that radiation from outer space could penetrate her tissues and restore life to her somnolent form. Yea, he seems pretty rational, right? And with all the insanity, it was only a matter of time before the story attracted the media, and the case became well known all across the country. The public even seemed to think the old German was sweet and that his abduction and care of the corpse was romantic. The DIY mummified corpse was put on display in a funeral home for the public to see, and people from all over came to check out the corpse the “romantic doctor” had obsessed over.
Eventually, the young girl’s body was shown the respect she deserved and buried in a way that the Doctor would never be able to find her again. And Doctor Tanzler somehow avoided long prison time. He was kind of a sick celebrity at the time and wrote a famous autobiography and even appeared in pop culture magazines. His obsession with Hoylo never ceased, though. And being deprived of her corpse and all, he made a new life-size doll of her body and put a death mask of her on it.
Doctor Tanzler died in 1952, and his courses weren’t discovered for three weeks after his death. In his obituary, it was stated that the effigy of Elena Hoyer seemed to be looking over his body, which creeped people out.
The tale of Doctor Carl Tanzler is easily one of the most unsettling true stories of a man lost to delusional eccentricity, and a powerful tale on the dangers of obsession.