Vincent Van Gogh led a tortured existence
New research in Groningen has shed new light on Vincent van Gogh’s psychiatric illness. The study has come from emeritus professor of psychiatry Willem Nolen of the UMCG. The researcher shows that after cutting off his own left ear, Vincent van Gogh likely experienced an ‘alcohol withdrawal delirium’ twice.
The extensive psychiatric investigation is based on Van Gogh’s extensive correspondence and existing medical information, reports the GIC. . Van Gogh died on July 29, 1890 as a result of a suicide attempt two days earlier.
Using structured diagnostic interviews, researchers looked into every type of mental health issue that the painter could have had.
From young adulthood, Van Gogh reported in his letters various symptoms associated with a – probably bipolar – mood disorder in combination with a – probably borderline – personality disorder, the researchers say. His condition was made worse by alcohol addiction in combination with malnutrition, they add.
The researchers’ new theory is that after a crisis in 1888 in which he cut off his ear, Van Gogh twice experienced short-term psychosis, probably because he had to suddenly stop drinking alcohol as a result of hospitalization after the ear incident. After this, his condition worsened further and he went through some severe depressive episodes, at least one of which with psychotic features. In the end, he was unable to make a permanent recovery, which probably led to his suicide in July 1890.