Following the analysis of some 902 letters, medical reports and interviews with experts in the life and work of the painter, the team of doctors determined that Van Gogh struggled with a combination of multiple psychiatric disorders.
The post-impressionist artist developed psychosis episodes derived from alcohol withdrawal, experienced the condition known as ‘delirium tremens’ and symptoms that coincide with bipolar disorder with changes in mood, combined with possible borderline disorder of personality.
Specialists point out that these disorders, associated with alcoholism and malnutrition, led Van Gogh to cut the lobe of his left ear on December 23rd, 1888, after a discussion with his colleague, the French painter Paul Gauguin.
This episode gave rise to the myth of the artist who was confined to a psychiatric hospital, and whose condition worsened, with severe depressive moments, from which he never recovered and led him to suicide months later, according to the most correct theories.
The Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry Willem Nolen, leader of the investigation, assured in a statement that nobody can affirm ‘with absolute certainty’ the disorders that Van Gogh suffered, but the conclusions of the study are ‘very likely’.
The researchers ruled out schizophrenia, porphyrias, or carbon monoxide poisoning, referred to in previous investigations, although they did not rule out epilepsy, in ‘extremely variable manifestations of anxiety, delusions and hallucinations.’
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