Term Paper: Diagnosis of Famous Person With Disorder

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Diagnosis of a Famous Person

Vincent Van Gogh (Famous Person with Disorder)

Vincent Van Gogh -- a Case History

Vincent Van Gogh was a Dutch artist born in 1853 in a village of Netherlands to the family of Theodorus Van Gogh, a minister of Dutch Reformed Church.Van Gogh was the oldest among five siblings including two brothers and three sisters. He belonged to a family of art dealers, artisans and religious preacher's whileVincent himself was also keen to draw and sketch when he was a child. As time passed, he decided to become an artist. Even at a very young age, Vincent was moody, self-willed, annoying and irritable (Blumer, 2002). Later in life, his personality became more eccentric and he suffered from unbalanced moodsand recurrent psychotic episodes. Van Gogh suffered from immense highs and lows in his short life, most of which revolved around his struggle with mental illnesses whose symptoms and diagnosis became recognizable only later.

Vincent Van Gogh completed his formal education after considerable fluctuations and was employed at the Hague Gallery ("Vincent van Gogh: Early Years," 2012) at a young age of 16. In 1873 he was forced to relocate to London and then to Paris in 1875. For two years that Vincent stayed in London, he fell in love but considered this infatuation too seriously leading him towards depression. The disappointment in love made Vincent sad, gloomy and anti-social; he did not even interact much with his family during this period (Blumer, 2002). His desire to become a professional art dealer had died by then and he chose to devote his life to preaching people to religion and evangelization like his father, although, he still nurtured his passion to be an artist. Vincent studied theology in formal school but failed to complete his program and rejected Latin as a proper language to preach religion to the poor. He abandoned his lessons of theology and practically stepped-up to work with peasants and miners in a very poor area of Belgium. Due to his overly charitable behavior and impropriety as a church preacher, Vincent was kicked out from the church with whose Brethren he had shared all his belongings. He was left disappointed and robbed of trust once again. After this episode, Vincent once more went through severe depression (Blumer, 2002). His progress as a preacher stopped but his fascination for the miners inspired the artist in him to emerge in full swing. Vincent became 27 in 1880 and at that time he enrolled in an arts school in Brussels, Belgium, and painted his first acknowledged work, Potato Eaters, in 1885 ("Vincent van Gogh: Overview," 2011). However, during that period Vincent failed at making his art popular and also lost his trust in people and love.

Vincent moved to Paris in 1886 to live with his brother Theo. He lived thriftily, studied colors and chose to paint simple paintings of peasants. Paris and the sound advices of his brother brought good changes in Vincent. He moved on from earthy tones to brighter colors; he now painted everything that was around him. It was this period of his life when mental ailment began to show itself in distinct forms. He started to suffer from sudden terror attacks, epigastric feelings and unconsciousness all of a sudden. Some people have reported spasms and a blank stareafter which he often did not remember what had happened.His brother's letters (Hulsker, 1977) to his sister indicate that Vincent's situation worsened with time; he tended to be unhygienic, irritable and always ready to start a fight. As time passed, Vincent developed physical and mental ailments but ironically his development as an artist kept enhancing.

Vincent left Paris and his brother Theo to move to Arles in 1988. By this time, he had quite perfected his art and produced the most intense paintings of his life. His psychotic episodes kept worsening as his art flourished. His letters from that era point out that he suffered from despair and fatigue at all times (Blumer, 2002). His life was disturbed and vehement creativity of art alternated with episodes of listlessness and exhaustion. Dysphoria, euphoria and anguish attacked him one by one. Violent, anger and lack of sexual desires was there. Vincent complained of a bad stomach and poor circulation of blood in his body. His letters indicated that he was unable to understand his situation when he suddenly underwent fits of anxiety without any visible cause or felt blankness in his mind; there would be times when he felt severe remorse for the pettiest things in his past life (Blumer, 2002).

By the persuasion of Theo, Ganguin, an artist friend of Vincent, joined him but the visit was a hopeless disaster and ended in catastrophe due to Vincent's utter lack of tolerance and uncontrolled temper (Blumer, 2002). When Ganguin left the house, Vincent followed him and on being repelled, he went back home and cut his ear-lobe only to present it to his favorite prostitute. Afterwards, he despaired into an extreme psychotic state of agitation, hallucinations and delusions for three days. He had no recollection of the events of the past few days when he became stable. Vincent spent several weeks at the hospital where epilepsy was diagnosed; he was under treatment while he experienced psychotic relapses and prominent amnesia.

Vincent's condition exacerbated towards the end of his life; he drank more and more especially when Theo was engaged and married. For Vincent, the relationship with his brother was at stake. Among all other disturbing symptoms, Vincent now suffered from suicidal temptation too and in unsuccessful attempts he ingested lamp oil, turpentine, paint etc. (Blumer, 2002). In May 1890, Vincent was discharged from the hospital and was declared cured. He moved to Auvers where he spent the last few weeks of his life. Fortunately, he suffered less from his fits and seizures and also abstained from drinking. By this time, Vincent's art has started to gain distinction but on the other hand Theo's failing health prevented him from providing further financial support to Vincent. Exchange of fiery words with his brother left Vincent terribly depressed. His paintings, instead of showing luminous heavenly bodies, now showed fields and endless paths with stormy skies (Blumer, 2002). Some days later, Vincent Van Gogh shot himself and died two days later with Theo by his side.

In the ten years that he spent painting intensively, Vincent produced 900 paintings that failed to receive attention while he lived. He sold only one painting during his lifetime. Many years after his death, his work is now acknowledged and is a source of inspiration for artists all around the world ("Vincent van Gogh: Overview," 2011).

Evaluation Procedure

A psychological evaluation procedure of a person is intended to know whether he or she is suffering from a mental disorder or not and if they are, what is the way to diagnose the exact disorder (Hirsch, n.d.). Usually to evaluate the situation of mental health of a patient several procedures have to be carried out that focus on obtaining maximal information. In the case of Vincent Van Gogh, most of the study regarding his mental health was conducted post humously by studying his biographies and letter to his siblings.

General psychological evaluation procedures may include questionnaires given to the family regarding the behavior of the person under consideration, his activities, and associations and so on. Previous tests of the person are obtained from the family. While carrying out psychological evaluation of a deceased person these activities are not possible. However, what we require for a thorough evaluation is family, cultural, medical and psychosocial history of the patient (Hirsch, n.d.).The information that is needed to be gathered for a posthumous evaluation of mental health is:

All the impediments, difficulties and major situations of tensed times that the family faced is to be considered while making evaluation of the mental health status.

Personal issues like relationship with friends and family, behavior in society, responsibilities to be fulfilled at home and at what age have to be studied.

Accidents that have the potential to be causal agents of brain injuries or other major injuries should be considered.

In a posthumous psychological evaluation we would gather information regarding the modes of expression of a person. For example, an artist may be evaluated on the basis of what he painted while he lived and a writer can be evaluated on the basis of the intensity of his writings.

Any information about suicidal temptation, hallucinations, anxiety, depression, odd thoughts, behavioral abuse has to be gathered from journal entries, people who were in contact with the subject, books, letters, research articles etc. (in case you are studying a famous personality).

When such material is present for evaluation, studies are rendered much more reliable and easier. For this evaluation of mental health of Vincent Van Gogh detailed information regarding his life was obtained online from resourceful research articles and websites. Most significantly, the major details of Vincent Van Gogh's life are properly available due to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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