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Holstijn, A.W. (1951). The Psychological Development of Vincent Van Gogh. Am. Imago, 8(3):239-273.

(1951). American Imago, 8(3):239-273

The Psychological Development of Vincent Van Gogh

A. J. Westerman Holstijn

Translated from:


Magazine for Application of Psychoanalysis to Mental Science

Volume 10 (1924)

Special Issue: Creative Art. Brochure 4

Translated from the German by

Hans P. Winzen

In the following we are only concerned with the matters that are of interest with regard to the psychological development of Vincent Van Gogh, so that many things, which are of interest from an artistic viewpoint, will have to be omitted. I shall even omit certain events of his life and some illness-phenomena, so that this article cannot be expected to be an uninterrupted description of his life or an acknowledgment of his artistic activities.

Vincent Van Gogh was born in 1853 in Zundert, in the province of North Brabant, the oldest son of a village minister. From the descriptions that his sister and sister-in-law1 give of him, it is apparent that as a boy and as a child he evidenced a definite schizoid character. The sister states: “Brother and sister were strangers to him and even towards himself and towards his own youth he felt strange. He loved nature and was absorbed by it. He knew all of the places where strange flowers grew .… he knew where all of the birds had their nests .… he had an innate tendency to separate himself from others and to analyze himself.

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