I decided to watch the movie, Loving Vincent. I've read a lot about Vincent Van Gogh. I've read the letters he would write his brother. I've stared at his paintings. I started to see the torment in his work. I started seeing the constant motion in his strokes. To me, it is a mix of excitement and torment, depending on the day.
It has been said that Vincent Van Gogh had some type of mental illness. Many professionals say he had common-day Bipolar. I'm no doctor, but In my first-hand experience I would say he had the most peculiar case of that diagnosis...if that was in fact the diagnosis.
Do I think it was Bipolar 1 or Bipolar 2?
I have Bipolar 1. Bipolar 1 involves manic episodes. This is extended amounts of mania. Mania can look like odd behaviors, psychomotor agitation (pacing around fast, wringing hands), rapid speech, excessive shopping, risky behaviors and the list goes on. It also includes delusions which are beliefs that aren't based in reality. Some beliefs that I have had like believing I'm The Holy Trinity or thinking I have to burn all the family photos in my house that have men in them because all men control women. This is a very common delusion amongst the Bipolar 1 community. Bipolar 1 also includes paranoia. For me it's that people are poisoning my food, talking about me, plotting to kill me or at it's worst, tapping into my cellphone and having recording devices in my house. Lastly, there are the hallucinations. Mine of which are few and far between and usually auditory hallucinations.
Bipolar 2 is harder for me to grasp because I don't have it. I do know it is a compressed version, or less extreme version of Bipolar 1 that errs on the side of depression. Bipolar 1 is usually "up". High energy. "Up" doesn't always mean bright, confident, and charismatic. Sometimes it presents as paranoid, agitated, confused.
So what's with the ear? In my opinion, Van Gogh was having some type of delusion or hallucination. I think that is what caused him to cut his ear off. A common delusion I have in mania is that I have to poke holes in my body to let God out of my skin. What you might see as someone trying to kill themselves couldn't be more incorrect. For me, I'm saving God by releasing God from inside of me. I'm saving the world. For all we know, Van Gogh was having a delusion that he had to cut his ear off in order to save the world. He gifted the ear to a prostitute. He could have been giving it to her so she could hear his thoughts with his own ear. A delusion can be anything. Unexplained. Without rhyme or reason.
So. Sounds like Bipolar 1 to me. But wait a second... People with Bipolar 2 can experience psychosis like hallucinations and delusions in the midsts of deep depressions. Plus, it looks like Van Gogh was depressed a lot of the time. What gets me is that he also had endless energy to paint. Great drive. Not something common in someone who is in a depressed episode. I've only had 2 severe depressions in my life.
There are so many mysteries about Van Gogh. Did he kill himself? Was he killed by someone else? Bipolar 1? Bipolar 2? Other? I guess at the end of the day the answers lie somewhere deep in the paint that's been clinging to his canvas.