Count von Count Suffers From Real Arithmomania

“One friend from Sesame Street, plus one friend from Sesame Street, equals two friends from Sesame Street! Ah, ha, ha!” —Count von Count

In A Nutshell

As one of the stars of Sesame Street, jolly vampire Count von Count has been teaching children how to count for over 40 years. His obsession with counting harks back to traditional legends which state that vampires suffer from Arithmomania, a variant of OCD which causes sufferers to fixate on numbers.

The Whole Bushel

Of all the characters to appear on Sesame Street, one of the most famous is undoubtedly Count von Count. With his Bela Lugosi-esque looks, foreboding castle (complete with squeaky door), and pet bats, he’s been teaching kids to calculate responsibly ever since his first appearance on the show in 1972.

However, the Count’s love of counting isn’t just an invention of the show: It’s a key aspect of classical vampire folklore. In pre-modern times, when vampires were commonly believed to exist, it was commonplace for people to scatter poppy seeds and other types of grains (such as rice or wheat) on the floor of their houses in order to prevent themselves from becoming prey to these nightmarish bloodsuckers. This was because on entering the abode, the vampire would be compelled to count the grains, allowing time for either the occupants to escape or the sun to rise and kill the creature. As a way of pre-emptively thwarting any deceased relatives from rising from the grave, family members would sprinkle their corpses with seeds.

Count von Count’s trademark habit of counting everything that he encounters in Sesame Street—including bats, ducks, and apples—is simply a nod back to these legends, albeit one in a more child-friendly form.

Even more surprisingly, this obsession to count is a real disorder. Known as arithmomania, it’s closely associated with sufferers of obsessive compulsive disorder. According to the (surprisingly) sparse amount of research into this condition, it causes sufferers who are faced with a set of numbers or objects to endlessly add, subtract, multiply, and divide them. How little research? One paper, two papers, three papers . . . was that thunder and lightning we just heard?

Show Me The Proof

Encyclopedia of the Vampire: The Living Dead in Myth, Legend, and Popular Culture, S.T. Joshi
Telegraph: Quite interesting facts about vampires
Obsessive-compulsive Disorder Spectrum: Pathogenesis, Diagnosis, and Treatment, Jose A. Yaryura-Tobias, Fugen A. Neziroglu

  • Exiled Phoenix

    This does seem to add up;)

  • Marozia

    1. Does that mean that all of us that learned to count from the Count are arithmomanic?
    2. Does that mean that all of us that learned to count from the Count are arithmomanic?
    3. Look at 1 & 2 above.
    4. Look at 1, 2 & 3 above.

  • Hadeskabir

    Count von Count used to creep me out when I was a kid. There’s something in him that simply is disturbing.

    • cornmayor

      What a purple vampire in a castle is wierd now? huh

      • Hadeskabir

        Most kids loved Sesame Street, I,on the other hand, was horrified by it. It looked like a creepy freak show with talking monsters.

        • The Ou7law

          Dude dont worry i would cry when it came on and my mom would have to change it. What kind of a show has a big ass yellow bird that can talk, uh i still get creeped out i dont even let my kid watch it

          • Jub

            Felix the cat….. now there was a scary kids show…. though i used to have a freind whos mum wouldnt let him watch road runner and bugs bunny because she claimed it was too violent.

          • Hadeskabir

            That Yellow Bird was a freak of nature. Don’t let your kid watch that shit, it will scare him for life.

          • cornmayor

            Ya I was more of a Barney kid. Ahh a t-rex nothing scary about that.

          • Hadeskabir

            Barney is even worse!

          • cornmayor

            Nice.

  • daroofa

    What a coincidence. I saw this little factoid on Reddit 3 days ago.

  • The Ou7law

    Fuck sesame street and all those weird ass characters

  • punkylynn

    I actually have this issue. I count vowels in sentences and if it doesn’t add up to a multiple of 5, I have to replace words, so that the sentence still makes sense, but also has vowels adding up to multiples of five. I don’t do this when I’m writing, just when people are talking to me or I’m watching TV. I fixate on it for hours and most nights I lie awake counting vowels and other things. It’s really annoying, but I can’t stop myself.

    • Karmala

      Thanks for that. I’ve spent the last 2 minutes making sure that yor sentences do infact contain vowels adding up to multiples of 5. Thanks to my short attention span, I’ll take your word for it.

  • Errkism

    I read about the vampires need to count on Listverse before, but never even thought of Count Von Count being a part of that. Good article.

  • Ryan

    I just thought it was a pun.

  • Profesor perfect

    I also. have arrhythmias I take nitroglycerin for that he should to

  • Valkyrie

    I loved the Count <3 I enjoyed reading this too thank you 🙂

  • Mmg Writer-Composer

    Yes even I found that character creepy lol though I could never figure out why..
    I just got a website arithmomania.com if you want to post or contribute you’re more than welcome
    Count Von Count haha..