The wing of madness: the illness of Vincent van Gogh

Can J Psychiatry. 1993 Sep;38(7):480-4. doi: 10.1177/070674379303800704.


This paper briefly describes some aspects of Vincent van Gogh's life and attitudes. It discusses absinthe and several psychodynamic factors that may have contributed to his psychotic episodes at Arles, when he cut off his ear. It discusses Vincent's descriptions of his illness, especially at Saint Rémy de Provence and concludes that he probably suffered from partial complex seizures (temporal lobe epilepsy) with manic depressive mood swings aggravated by absinthe, brandy, nicotine and turpentine.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Depressive Disorder / history*
  • Famous Persons*
  • History, 19th Century
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Paintings / history*
  • Psychotic Disorders / history*
  • Suicide / history*

Personal name as subject

  • V van Gogh