Van Gogh: Madness and the creative mind

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March 5, 2012 — The “Red-headed Madman” Vincent Van Gogh lived a tumultuous life, complicated by bouts of anxiety and mental illness. An exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art features a collection of his works created in the year just before his death, a time of “feverish artistic expression” and personal distress. Many extremely creative people — Beethoven, Newton, Woolf — suffered from psychiatric disorders. It’s not a clear picture, though. Does creativity mask the madness? Does the madness boost creativity, expanding depth and insight?

Dr. Dan Gottlieb takes a look at the connection between the creative mind and disquieted mind in light of Van Gogh’s works in Philadelphia and a new biography that raises the question: does the painter’s mental state matter? Dan’s guests are author Steven Naifeh and psychiatrist Barry Panter, PhD. and M.D. Pulitzer Prize winning writer Steven Naifeh’s new book is “Van Gogh: The Life,” written with Gregory White Smith. Barry Panter is the founder of the Creativity and Madness Conference. He’s written “Creativity & Madness: Psychological Studies of Art and Artists.”

Photo by Flickr users Steven Zucker, D Flam, and Tony Hisgett

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