Written by Dietrich Blumer Friday, 26 April 2002 01:49
Published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, April 2002
Vincent van Gogh (1853â1890) had an eccentric personality and unstable moods, suffered from recurrent psychotic episodes during the last 2 years of his extraordinary life, and committed suicide at the age of 37. Despite limited evidence, well over 150 physicians have ventured a perplexing variety of diagnoses of his illness. Henri Gastaut, in a study of the artistâs life and medical history published in 1956, identified van Goghâs major illness during the last 2 years of his life as temporal lobe epilepsy precipitated by the use of absinthe in the presence of an early limbic lesion. In essence, Gastaut confirmed the diagnosis originally made by the French physicians who had treated van Gogh. However, van Gogh had earlier suffered two distinct episodes of reactive depression, and there are clearly bipolar aspects to his history. Both episodes of depression were followed by sustained periods of increasingly high energy and enthusiasm, first as an evangelist and then as an artist. The highlights of van Goghâs life and letters are reviewed and discussed in an effort toward better understanding of the complexity of his illness.
Written by Patricia Gadsby Saturday, 01 July 2000 02:03
A fascinating account of the genetic science behind why some people abhor sugar in their absinthe, and why others can't drink it without.