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Vol 08, No 2, Article 03, PDF

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Trauma post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the case of Vincent Van Gogh: Hanna Hyams

Abstract:  Most of my patients are trauma survivors. Their symptoms of PTSD and resulting dissociation are major indications of past events which have handicapped their lives, affected their attitudes, and shattered their personal equilibrium. Through comprehension and recognition of trauma, a better understanding and treatment of patients can be achieved. It is unusual for a patient who died 103 years ago to speak to us so eloquently for himself. However, through letters and paintings, van Gogh illustrates his own case in such an astonishingly vibrant manner that he leads us to a greater insight and knowledge of the damage caused by trauma. Although labelled as a mad and violent schizophrenic genius, his symptoms were those of dissociation caused by PTSD, and I would venture that his epilepsy was a direct result of syphilis and addiction to absinthe.

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