Some of my students are aware of artists and great thinkers who suffered from mental illness. Among them was the popular painter Vincent Van Gogh, known for his impressive use of color
in works such as "Starry Night" (shown to the right).
There is some speculation about how a modern psychologist would respond to Van Gogh's constellation of symptoms. Some have suggested that he suffered from bipolar disorder, given his bouts of significant productivity that might be understood as manic episodes. He certainly suffered from bouts of severe depression, and ultimately took his own life in 1890.
Knowing Van Gogh's struggles gives one an interesting lens to view his numerous works. Although it's difficult to know how much his illness influenced each particular piece of his art, it certainly is tempting to believe that his depression seeped into some of the more somber scenes and faces he created.
Below, a compilation of images from Van Gogh's work, set to Don McLean's "Vincent," which references the artist and his difficult life.