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Van Gogh: Meniere's Disease? Epilepsy? Psychosis?-Reply

I. Kaufman Arenberg, MD
JAMA. 1991;265(6):724. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460060052018.
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In Reply. —  The causes of van Gogh's illness and bizarre behavior remain controversial. Meniere's disease is a plausible explanation, while the accepted diagnosis of epilepsy or other seizure disorders are, at best, questionable. Van Gogh's loss of consciousness could have been syncope during violent attacks of vertigo. None of van Gogh's descriptions support a diagnosis of seizures by today's rigid criteria. We focused only on Meniere's disease vs epilepsy now and in the 1800s, and not on an extensive differential diagnosis including psychopathology. The psychological aspects of vertigo and stress in Meniere's disease are reviewed elsewhere.1We did not mean to suggest that a diagnosis of Meniere's disease would explain "everything." Van Gogh's bizarre behavior cannot be explained by a diagnosis of Meniere's disease, and we agree that van Gogh had more than one problem and may have suffered from manicdepressive illness as well as substance abuse and


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