Who Is Vincent Van Gogh: Historical Figures And Seizures

Decent Essays
Historical Figures and Seizures: Vincent van Gogh

Next week, Aura America will be celebrating the birthday of an artist whose talent was unfortunately undervalued in his own lifetime.

While retailers today stock their shelves with prints of his paintings to fulfill the demand for his art, Vincent van Gogh sadly sold only a small number of his paintings during his life. The Dutch artist differentiated himself with his unique brushwork, and his style developed over time into what is now known as Post-Impressionism.

Though you probably know his works such as “The Starry Night” and “The Cafe Terrace at Night,” Vincent created over 850 paintings in his lifetime. You may also know that he suffered from psychological problems. In fact, he has become
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Dr. Theophile Peyron noted that van Gogh retained “only a vague memory of [the ear-cutting incident] and cannot explain it. He tells that one of his mother's sisters was epileptic, and that there are several cases in the family.” Dr. Peyron also noted that Vincent’s “hallucinations of his sight and hearing” were what drove him to cut his ear.

Dr. Felix Rey diagnosed Vincent with temporal lobe epilepsy, and the diagnosis was upheld by Dr. Peyron. They believed that he was born with a brain injury and concluded that his heavy use of absinthe worsened his condition into epilepsy.

Based on what we know of van Gogh’s lifestyle, it is possible that he was unknowingly triggering his seizures. Some known triggers of seizures that could have affected his health include:

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The condition has been linked as a symptom of both temporal lobe epilepsy and bipolar disorder.

While some still dispute it, reviewing these symptoms has lead many analysts today to accept the original diagnosis of temporal lobe epilepsy.

A Courageous Artist

At 37 years old, van Gogh’s depression overcame him, and he took his own life. Despite his illnesses—whatever they may have been—his paintings brought him great happiness, and his work continues to touch and inspire as he had always hoped it would.

Let’s remember this artist for the beauty he brought to this world and use his story as a reminder to always persevere. After all, “even if one loses here and there, and even if one sometimes feels a sort of decline, the point is nevertheless to revive and have courage, even though things don’t turn out as one first thought.” —Vincent van Gogh

Van Gogh Gallery,
Van Gogh Museum,
Van Gogh Museum & Huygens ING, Vincent van Gogh: The Letters,
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