See Me See You

Our impressive detective somehow remains unimpressed by the art of Impressionism (Art S01E02). However, in the episode See Me (S02E13) we find him observing the works of Vincent W. Van Gogh, the world's best known Dutch impressionist artist who said to be suffered heavily from mental and physical conditions. As the episode deals with Schizophrenia, like in the episode The Faithful (S01E04), once again we are given a close look at Goren's skill in dealing with the mental illness of his mother, Frances Goren. Therefore Robert Goren uses these exact words while commenting on the painter: 'The story is that Van Gogh gave his ear to a prostitute as a token of love. But who knows what he was really thinking?'

Bobby, Touching Van Gogh's Self-portrait With Bandaged Ear

Properly speaking he was not thinking at all. Needless to say; Van Gogh had an eccentric personality and unstable moods, suffered from recurrent psychotic episodes during the last 2 years of his life and finally committed suicide at the age of 37. Despite limited evidence, well over 150 physicians have ventured a perplexing variety of diagnoses of his illness. Henri Gastaut, in a study of the artist's life and medical history published in 1956, identified Van Gogh's major illness as Temporal Lobe Epilepsy precipitated by the use of absinthe in the presence of an early limbic lesion. On the other hand there are clearly Bipolar aspects to his history as both episodes of depression were followed by sustained periods of increasingly high energy and enthusiasm. Bipolar is a brain disorder that causes huge shifts in emotions, energy level and physical ability. Until recently, the illness was called Manic Depressive Disorder but it now has the more accurate name, Bipolar Disorder. This name reflects the two extreme poles or states of emotion that sufferers exhibit mania and depression. Bipolar is one of the many brain diseases that shares symptoms with Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, Schizoid Personality, Schizophreniform Disorder, Schizotypal Personality and this often leads to mistaken diagnoses. Therefore it is valuable to understand the difference between schizophrenia-like symptoms and Bipolar Disorder. As a result, we can say that in contradistinction to Gastaut, it's considerably harder to diagnose Van Gogh's disease without accessing first hand knowledge like necessary physical examination and exhaustive medical history.

And btw dear Bobby, despite common beliefs Van Gogh did not cut off his whole ear but only cut off the lobe of his left ear:) Anyway as I've mentioned, in this episode, our detective is after an ophthalmologist with Schizophrenia and a keen interest in Van Gogh, who believes that his disorder is not seated in the brain but in the optical nerves. On that account we see The Starry Night, believed to be Van Gogh's masterpiece, on the wall of the doctor's office. Well, as I have never got tired of listening to Vincent, an excellent song by Don McLean written as a tribute to Van Gogh (also known by its opening Starry Starry Night) for some reason, Starry Night has a special place in my heart. For those who are interested; The Starry Night is still being exhibited at MoMA (special exhibition gallery on the second floor) in NY. Since Van Gogh and the Colors of the Night is scheduled to be shown from September 21, 2008 to January 5, 2009 the exhibition will officially end tomorrow.

The Starry Night (De Sterrennacht in Dutch) 1889