The Case of Vincent van Gogh


Many clinicians have reviewed the medical and psychiatric problems of the painter Vincent van Gogh posthumously, diagnosing him with a range of disorders, including epilepsy, schizophrenia, digitalis and absinthe poisoning, manic-depressive psychosis, acute intermittent porphyria and Meniere's disease.

Richard Jed Wyatt of the National Institute of Mental Health and I have argued in detail that van Gogh's symptoms, the natural course of his illness and his family psychiatric history stronly indicate manic-depressive illness. The extent of the artist's purported use of absinthe and convulsive behavior remains unclear; in any event, his psychiatric symptoms long predate any possible history of seizures. It is possible that he suffered from both an epileptic disorder and manic-depressive illness.

The Goal of Treatment

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