Numerous suggestions as to the nature of Van Gogh’s illness can be found in (medical) literature. Named possibilities include syphilis, dementia praecox, hallucinatory psychosis, alcoholism, turpentine poisoning and gas intoxication, but also schizophrenia, a manic-depressive disorder, a metabolic disorder, delirium tremens, a borderline personality disorder, temporal lobe epilepsy and even sunstroke.
Dr Peyron, Vincent’s physician at the institution in Saint-Rémy, concluded that Van Gogh was suffering from a form of epilepsy. And, being the only official medical diagnosis ever made, that’s the closest we can get to an answer. It’s likely that neurological, psychological and genetic factors all played a role, but in light of the fact that the patient is dead and buried, we’ll never know for sure.