DUTCH ARTIST VINCENT VAN GOGH THROUGH THE EYES OF THE GERMAN PSYCHIATRIST KARL LEONHARD IN THE CONTEXT OF CURRENT CULTURAL AND MEDICAL DISCUSSION

Mikhail Koryshev, Ekaterina Ivanova, Katja Petersen, Katja Schmidt

Research outputpeer-review

Abstract

This paper is an attempt to bring together different approaches within the framework of anthropology, art history and psychiatry in order to study the treatment of the personality and work of Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853-1890) in the last work of the famous German psychiatrist Karl Leonhard (1904-1988), the author of the book Akzentuierte Personlichkeiten (EN Accentuated Personalities) well-known to Russian readers. The assessments of Karl Leonhard, which reflected a whole period both in the history of reception of the work of the Dutch artist in the then divided Germany, and in the history of German medicine, are the result of a dialogue between the Dutch art culture and the culture of German nosological psychiatry, inscribed in the history of the medical discourse of that period and pathographic art history. Leonhard made a significant contribution to the study and description of the clinical manifestations of endogenous psychoses. Clinical experience leads the German psychiatrist to conclude that the diagnosis of schizophrenia, which the Russian school is inclined to support, and that of epilepsy are wrong, because the artist suffered from anxiety-happiness psychosis, which is a special form of cycloid psychosis. The evidence-based method used by Leonhard is close to the traditions of Russian humanistic psychiatry. Despite the fact that Leonhard's positivist-oriented nosological approach is currently being criticized by adherents of the psychoanalytic approach in psychiatry, it should be noted that there is no objective evidence that one approach excludes the other: in our opinion, they complement each other. Studying van Gogh's letters, the testimonies of his contemporaries, and taking into account the data of later works on van Gogh, the authors of this paper reproduce the picture of the symptoms of a mental illness, emphasizing the importance of the expansive and carefully thought-out classification of Leonhard's endogenous psychoses and focusing on the evidence of fluctuations in the artist's affect and disturbances of the process of perception, his attitude to his own illness from the point of view of psychiatry and clinical psychology. In addition, the paper provides an overview of the latest pathographic studies of van Gogh and their critical analysis. In conclusion, the authors of the paper announce the publication of the full text of Leonhard's essay in Russian translation accompanied by commentary by art critics and medical scholars.

Translated title of the contributionНИДЕРЛАНДСКИЙ ХУДОЖНИК ВИНСЕНТ ВАН ГОГ ГЛАЗАМИ НЕМЕЦКОГО ПСИХИАТРА КАРЛА ЛЕОНГАРДА В КОНТЕКСТЕ АКТУАЛЬНОЙ КУЛЬТУРОЛОГИЧЕСКОЙ И МЕДИЦИНСКОЙ ДИСКУССИИ
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-349
JournalСКАНДИНАВСКАЯ ФИЛОЛОГИЯ
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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