Matthew Brown writes:
I have an inquiry concerning the circumstances surrounding Van Gogh's cutting off of his ear, specifically why he did it. I recall hearing on a news program last year that a scholar was attributing the incident to an extreme case of vertigo. The scholar claimed Van Gogh had so many bells and flashes going off in his head that he was driven to cut off his ear to try to remove what he perceived to be the receptor of those noises. Also, what was the relation, if any, between his ear and [the English woman who was the object of his admirations--the name escapes me], and also between his ear and the prostitute.
M.E. Meyer-Arneson of Carrot River, Saskatchewan, Canada shares some interesting information:
With respect to your inquiry about mystery surrounding van Gogh's health condition at the time he severed his ear, I do believe you are right on track with the medical professionals.
Hereunder is an article from "Thriveonline" with the title "Van Gogh had Meniere's disease and not epilepsy."
REFERENCE: JAMA 1990
Jul25;264(4):491-3 - Arenberg IK; Countryman LF; Bernstein LH;
Shambaugh GE Jr - (90308898 NLM)
"We intend to correct the historical error that Vincent Van Gogh's medical problems resulted from epilepsy plus madness, a diagnosis made during his life but for which no rigid criteria are apparent. Review of 796 personal letters to family and friends written between 1884 and his suicide in 1890 reveals a man constantly in control of his reason and suffering from severe repeated attacks of disabling vertigo, not a seizure disorder. His own diagnosis of epilepsy was made from the written diagnosis by Dr. Peyron, the physician at the asylum of St Rémy (France), wherein on May 9, 1889, Van Gogh voluntarily committed himself to the asylum for epileptics and lunatics. However, the clinical descriptions in his letters are those of a person suffering from Meniere's disease, not epilepsy. The authors point out that Prosper Meniere's description of his syndrome (an inner-ear disorder) was not well known when Van Gogh died and that it often was misdiagnosed as epilepsy well into the 20th century."
Perhaps you can pursue the references for verification; however, the above appears to be quite authentic.
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