Vincent van Gogh: "I'd like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart"

How a genius feels: "I'm a nonentity, an eccentric, an unpleasant person"

March 30th is the birthday of Vincent van Gogh, born in Holland in 1853, a famous painter and also great letter-writer. His letters were lively, engaging, and passionate; they also frequently reflect his struggles with bipolar disorder.

He wrote: "What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart."

He wrote thousands of letters to his brother Theo over the course of his life. Theo's widow published the van Gogh's letters to her husband in 1913.

Doctors' Day in a high-risk profession: suicide rate of U.S. doctors is one per day

This quote serves as a good reminder how people with depression may have an altered perception of themselves. March 30 is also National Doctors' Day in the U.S. Other countries celebrate Doctors' Day on different dates.

More than a quarter of primary care doctors reported being "burnt out." The United States loses the equivalent of at least one entire medical school class (approximately 400 physicians) each year to suicide.

In other words, 300-400 doctors in the United States kill themselves every year, or roughly 1 per day. Male doctors have suicide rates 1.4 times that of the general population, while female doctors have twice the rate of depression and 2.3 times the suicide rate when compared with women who are not physicians.

A conversation could save a life: "Are you OK?" Day

Hugh Jackman shows his support for R U OK?Day, a national day of action in Australia that aims to prevent suicide by encouraging people to connect with colleagues, friends and loved ones and ask simply: "Are you OK?" This may help your medical colleagues too:


Writer's Almanac. NPR, 2012.
High-risk profession: Suicide rate of U.S. doctors is one per day
Help for Today's Tense, Frustrated Doctors. Medscape, 2009.
Doctors have higher rates of suicide than the general population: 40% higher for male doctors, 130% for female doctors
R U OK? Day
Image source: Vincent van Gogh's 1890 painting At Eternity's Gate. Wikipedia, public domain.

1 comment:

  1. I dearly love Van Gogh and have read both "Lust for Life" and "Johanna" regarding his life and the letters he wrote. You draw from them well. A favorite quote of my own is featured on my blog. "Many times in your life you will feel you are failing, but ultimately you will express yourself and that expression will justify your life." - "Lust for Life"