Exploring Van Gogh’s Mind

Van Gogh's self-portrait taken from Wikipaedia

In an earlier post focused on the connection between creativity and mental illness, there were some excellent comments, including people asking to know more about Van Gogh (the famous European painter) and his well-documented challenges with mental illness and inner demons.

After conducting research, I’ve found that Van Gogh suffered (and, yes, I will use the word “suffer” as he seemed to live a rather tortured life) from a host of mental and emotional health problems.

Van Gogh smoked extensively, drank absinthe (a potent and sometimes lethal alcoholic beverage), and massive amounts of coffee, and is said to have a very poor and nutritionally-empty diet. These factors, of course, could have spurred on or impacted any of his emotional or mental conditions.

In addition to self-diagnosed epilepsy, Van Gogh lived with bipolar disorder, possible sun stroke, Meniere’s Disease, lead poisoning, hallucinations and depression.

Living with one of these illnesses could be debilitating but, the fact that Van Gogh was able to create works of art while battling chronic malnutrition, addiction and mental and physical illness is an amazing feat! I continue to be amazed by the secret lives of artists. However, as Susan K says in the comments section linked above in this post, is the price of mental illness worth it to the people who live it?

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3 responses to “Exploring Van Gogh’s Mind

  1. Hi Lisa,

    I enjoyed seeing you post about this topic again.

    I know that I sound redundant, but to me that questions that this poses are a bit of a circle to me; some of the people (like Van Gogh) led challenging, painful lives and I wonder if he would have answered that he would prefer to live without it (although I don’t really know, but some of his writings suggest this).

    But the circle to me is: If bipolar could be cured in everyone, would we lose something as a society? Would we loseVan Gogh and future Van Goghs?

    If bipolar and other mental illnesses are one day cured, the other question that also arises (to me) is: Since some of these traits (well not bipolar, but let’s say autism) can be on a spectrum, at what point should people be cured? Will there be a cost or loss to a society? Would we lose people like temple Grandin and her inventions? Van Gogh and his paintings? And many, may other people …. (we’d still have them, but maybe the paintings, music, inventions wouldn’t be there).

  2. Pingback: Who Are You? Creativity Springs from Despair | Kids & Mental Health

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