De psychiatrische ziektegeschiedenis van Vincent van Gogh

E. van Meekeren

The psychiatric case history of Vincent van Gogh.

- Much has been written about Vincent van Gogh's pathological condition. Most authors base their various diagnoses on the symptoms he exhibited in the last years of his life. However, Van Gogh during a much longer part of his life displayed symptoms best consistent with a borderline (personality) disorder: impulsivity, variable moods, self-destructive behaviour, fear of abandonment, an unbalanced self-image, authority conflicts and other complicated relationships. The precipitating element disturbing Vincent's psychic balance - delicate in any case due to a positive family history, malnutrition, intoxication and exhaustion and the borderline disorder - may have been his being deserted by his friend Gauguin. He (also) developed an organic psychosyndrome with psychotic and epileptic elements. The stress (due to social isolation, by his being a psychiatric patient, and by poor prospects), the intoxication going on outside the hospitals and especially also the problems relating to his brother Theo caused a downward spiral culminating in suicide.