ANSWERS: 60
  • The short and sweet answer. . . It has been speculated that Van Gogh suffered from bi-polar disorder(see http://www.answerbag.com/q_view.php/1380). He commited suicide in 1890. Around 1888, van Gogh suffered a mental breakdown (possibly induced by absinthe) and cut off part of his left ear, which he gave to a startled prostitute friend. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Gogh
  • To be precise, it was the lobe of his left ear which he put into an envelope and gave to a brothel wench named Rachel with these words: "Guard this object carefully." After he tried to drink a quart of turpentine in his studio, he was sent to the asylum at Saint-Remy on May 7, 1889. The doctors began to treat him with hydrotherapy for acute mania and epilepsy. A precise diagnosis of Van Gogh's illness is still unavailable, despite hundreds of conjectures. We do know a few facts: Van Gogh suffered from syphilis contracted from prostitutes off the docks at Antwerp; there was also a history of mental illness in his family. Some physicians now believe Van Gogh may have had a congenital brain lesion that was aggravated by absinthe.
  • Actually, van Gogh and Gauguin were friends for a long time, until one day when they were both drunk, they got into a duel. It's believed that Gauguin cut off part of van Gogh's ear during that duel, and the next morning van Gogh didn't remember it, so Gauguin was easily able to pass it off as van Gogh having done it himself out of insanity, hearing voices, or other such legends. This duel didn't take place with swords, it's just a fancy name for a drunken fight back then. van Gogh attacked Gauguin with a razor, and it's probable that Gauguin wrested it from Vincent and cut part of the man's ear off. There's a book somewhere out there all on the evidence of this, but unfortunately I couldn't find it.
  • So many variations! I was taught in college that there was no interesting story behind it at all. It is heavily speculated, and taught in Art Colleges world wide, that he had a seizure disorder. He had an episode one day while shaving, lost control of his motor skills and sliced PART of his ear off... completely by accident.
  • To add to an excellent answer; one other thing caused van Gogh's erratic behavior; Being an artist he used many substances for painting. Many oil paints in those days contained very poisonous substances; one of the major ones being cadmium which was used to make very bright reds yellows and whites. So the poor man may also have had the added problem of cadmium poisoning to deal with.
  • I have first heard that he cut off his ear,as he really wanted to touch it and hold it in his hands,and draw it then..he just did it due to his his eager to draw the exact form of his ear..that's all!!...But I like the speculation about the bullfights in Arles more..Why not???
  • Because he was in love with a prostitute, but didn't have any money, so she left him, and he cut off his ear lobe and sent in to her... hmmm such a poor guy. suicidal and all : hope this helps. though you seem to have already gotten all the help you needed. I was just exited because I knew the answer :D lol
  • To make a long story short...no one really knows. It is a highly publicized rumor that he was a little off the deep end and that's why; however, I wouldn't put to much stock in any of the crazy theories out there.
  • Because he had one too many ears.
  • A woman was the reason.
  • A woman.
  • You should really read the whole story. He was a facinating man.
  • I have heard that he was schizophrenic (spelling?) and cut it off to try to get rid of the voices in his head.
  • A woman made him cut off his ear LOBE (not his whole ear). Also, he used to eat his own paints. Not a pretty picture.
  • A woman (prostitute)was only part of the reason. At Highschool, I made a study of Vincent as part of my visual arts program. From what I remember: The cutting off of Vincent's ear was a result of his mental illness brought on by lead poisoning (from the lead in his paint), his constant smoking of tobacco and drinking of absinthe, his fight with his friend Gaugin and his failure with women. Psychologists have concluded that he cut off his ear because he could not longer bear to hear the truth. His bad financial state, the paintings that failed to sell, and his coping with life in general. Vincent van Gogh's story is a very sad one. As a highly intelligent child who learnt at a faster speed than the average child, he didn't have many friends of his own age who could converse with him at the same level. It made him quite lonely. A little Dutch boy, spending most of his free time taking long walks through fields and observing nature. How sad that his art was not much appreciated back then, the lack of money depriving him of a healthy diet which also contributed to his ill-health- while it's selling for many millions today.
  • Wikipedia: Van Gogh cut off the ear lobe on one of his ears during some sort of seizure on December 23, 1888[citation needed]. Mental problems afflicted him, particularly in the last few years of his life. During some of these periods he did not paint, or was not allowed to. There has been much debate over the years as to the source of Van Gogh's mental illness and its effect on his work. Over 150 psychiatrists have attempted to label his illness, and some 30 different diagnoses have been suggested.[65] Diagnoses which have been put forward include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, syphilis, poisoning from swallowed paints, temporal lobe epilepsy and acute intermittent porphyria. Any of these could have been the culprit and been aggravated by malnutrition, overwork, insomnia, and a fondness for alcohol, and absinthe in particular. ==================== Any and/or all of the above reasons, brought on by a disagreement with a prostitute.
  • I thought it was for the love of a woman.
  • Supposedly it had something to do with a prostitute. Although I believe all of the crazy things he did were due in part to the mercury and other chemicals in the paints he used. Mercury is know to make people a little crazy in the head.
  • In December the two artists visited Montpellier and viewed works by Courbet and Delacroix in the Museé Fabre. However, their relationship was deteriorating badly. They quarrelled fiercely about art. Van Gogh felt an increasing fear that Gauguin was going to desert him, and what he described as a situation of "excessive tension" reached a crisis point on December 23, 1888, when Van Gogh stalked Gauguin with a razor and then cut off the lower part of his own left ear, which he wrapped in newspaper and gave to a prostitute named Rachel in the local brothel, asking her to "keep this object carefully."[59] Gauguin left Arles and did not see Van Gogh again. Van Gogh was hospitalised and in a critical state for a few days. He was immediately visited by Theo (whom Gauguin had notified), as well as Madame Ginoux and frequently by Roulin.
  • Because they didn't have cd players or mp3 players back then & he didn't think he would miss it...We was taught in Art class about him, yes he was in love with that woman but he was mentally ill if I remember correctly. But was a good artist.
  • i think so (but it might be piccasso). it was a present for his girl friend
  • If you type Van Gogh into the little "Find answers about:" box near the top of the screen you'll find this information very quickly without having to wait for the people on-line now to answer.
  • He cut his ear off because he drank too much absynthe...He was a tarnished genius destroyed by his own ingenuity.... The universe took him from us, but remember the universe gives us what we want when we want, therefore we being the creators of our own lives. Vincent Van Gogh was the creator and therefore destroyer of his own life... nothing more nothing less.... People look way too much into all this when the answer is simple..... just look at your own life and recognise, whether you like it or not, that you are the creator of your own world... i mean everything in it.... this was maybe not what van gogh understood.....
  • The TV cop show Law and Order: Crimminal Intent put forth the suggestion that Van Gough had cut off his ear because he was suffering from auditory halucinations. I hnow, this might not agree with the actual facts, but it certainly did work with a pretty good episode!
  • I heard he had tinnitus and was trying to get rid of it.
  • he was angry with him self
  • He went to the corn husking store and heard that they were 1/2 off on all ears.
  • ACCORDING TO THEO VAN GOGH'S (VINCENT'S BROTHER) BIOGRAPHY AND NOTES THEO HAD BEEN HELPING VINCENT FINANCIALLY WHILE HE PAINTED IN AN UPSTAIRS APT ABOVE A TAVERN/BROTHEL. WELL ONE NIGHT THEO RECALLS VINCENT HAD HIS FRIEND GAUGHIN OVER TO LOOK AT HIS WORK AND GAUGHIN SAID HE WAS WASTING HIS TIME. WELL VINCENT WAS SO DEPRESSED TO THINK THAT GAUGHIN THOUGHT HIS ART WAS FUTILE. THAT HE WENT DOWN TO THE TAVERN AND AT THE END OF THE BAR WAS A PROSTITUE NAMED RACHEL WHO WAS SAYING FIFTY QUID FOR AN EAR(NOT CERTAIN THE AMOUNT) SHE WAS REFERRING TO SOMEONE TO LISTEN TO HER. BUT VINCENT IN A FIT OF SELF MUTILATION CUT OFF HIS LOWER EARLOBE(NOT ENTIRE EAR) AND HANDED IT TO HER AND ASKED FOR THE MONEY(SUPPOSEDLY FOR RENT). HARD TO GET BETTER POV THEN HIS BROTHER.
  • THE REAL REASON IS: One day he decided to paint a picture of himself, so he looked in a mirror and noticed his ear was too big. SO he decided to do something about it. CUT IT OFF!!! but before doing this, he told his lover about his plan, but she disagreed and she said she loved his ears and everything about him, but he still hated his ear... so to make BOTH of them happy, he cut off his ear and gave it to his lover to keep it.
  • symetry?
  • Peer pressure.
  • You've OBVIOUSLY never met his wife.
  • He was a mentally disturbed, talented, kook.
  • According to the movie "Akira Kurosawa's Dreams", he was painting a self portrait and couldn't get the ear to come out right, so he cut it off...
  • well actualy, he wanted to make a gift for his wife i think, and well he was a bit crazy...well kinda XD he was in the middle of a deep depression, and back then that = crazy!
  • He was always mentally unstable. He'd just had a falling out with his friend and fellow painter Gauguin, so he cut his ear off, wrapped it in a handkerchief and gave it to a prostitute down the road.
  • I believe that the devils brew 'Absinthe" had something to do with it. That, combined with his fragile state of mind were probable factors
  • He was hungry.
  • Maybe he had Synesthesia, could have driven him insane to hear his paintings.
  • He had an ear disorder where he would hear ringing in his ear or he had mulitple personality disorder. Some research is saying he may have been bipolar.
  • Sadly he was misunderstood & under appreciated "But I could have told you, Vincent, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you." --Stary,Stary Night, Don McLean , "
  • Didn't know the man but I suspect he was stupid yo...
  • Um, perhaps he did it because no matter how hard you try to get people to understand a different perspective, most people just want to hear what they have always heard :)
  • From what my art teacher told us in a lesson is that he was chasing someone in a field with a knief and stoped and then cut his ear off.
  • An alternative theory about this act goes something like this: In an act of desperation in regard to Paul Gauguin's imminent departure, van Gogh cut off part of his ear: Gauguin and van Gogh were lovers.
  • he was afraid Paul Gaugin was going to desert him and their partnership...
  • i don't know but i know he sent it to his girlfriend in the mail or something. ew ew ew ew! geez, atleast theres an excuse for her to break up with him! :|
  • After reading several answers here, I am beginning to think people are missing the obvious. He cut his ear off because he was nuttier than a fruitcake. It's that simple.
  • Apparently, doctors now think that he may have suffered from Tinnitus. It is the ringing, buzzing, crackling, or hissing sound heard inside one or both ears. Tinnitus is a result of the brain attempting to "rewire" itself.
  • he got tired of his b'itch nagging him so he decided to scare the sh'it out of his wench say'in ur next...
  • one word, Absinth
  • he loved a girl but his girlfrind split up with him and hi in a werird way cut it of for her sake he cut of his ear for a woman but some say that he cut it off so that he can get more ditaled in his self portrate's
  • I heard he suffered from extreme ringing of the ear, tinnitus, which I do have.If I knew cutting off my ear would stop the incessant ringing I would also. My ENT Doctors have said the same thing. Tinnitus in hearing loss can also be referred to as phantom pain. Like when one looses a limb the brain knows something is missing so it compensates by pain, in ears it compensates with sound ringing.
  • He did not... Michael Kerjman
  • He likely suffered from bipolar disorder and possibly schizophrenia, not to mention syphilis was likely wreaking havoc on his gray matter.
  • he had temporal lobe epilepsy and yes, he was fucking awesome. but he suffered from severe epileptic scarring. trust me, i know. love roxy
  • because he wanted to
  • vincent had temporal lobe epilepsy. during his many seizures, he often times forgot where he was. he suffered moods of indescribable mental anguish. i have temporal lobe epilepsy from a brain tumor. came out just fine, only now i have TLE. that's how i know about one of the greatest painters that ever lived. here's the story with the ear..... vincent was familiar with another painter (gauguin), whom he almost had gay tendencies for. upon gauguin's leaving the domicile of vincent, vincent apologized for his outburst of rage. didn't work. vincent then took a razor to shave the edges of his ruddy beard when he heard a disembodied voice commanding him to kill gauguin. vincent after stalking his friend could not follow thru. he then went home and used the razor blade on himself. after he draped his ear with towel after towel, he picked up his severed ear which he had cut off in a fit of TLE, walked through the village to a brothel that ganguin frequented, where he gave his left ear on a stoop(or doorstep) with a note saying it was a "keepsake" for a prostitute who had once posed for him. pretty amazing shit huh?
  • 1) Traditional version: "On 23 December 1888, frustrated and ill, Van Gogh confronted Gauguin with a razor blade. In panic, Van Gogh left their hotel and fled to a local brothel. While there, he cut off the lower part of his left ear lobe. He wrapped the severed tissue in newspaper and gave to a prostitute named Rachel, asking her to "keep this object carefully."" "According to Doiteau & Leroy, the diagonal cut removed the lobe and probably a little more." Source and further information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincent_van_Gogh 2) Alternative version: "According to official versions, the disturbed Dutch painter cut off his ear with a razor after a row with Gauguin in 1888. Bleeding heavily, Van Gogh then walked to a brothel and presented the severed ear to an astonished prostitute called Rachel before going home to sleep in a blood-drenched bed. But two German art historians, who have spent 10 years reviewing the police investigations, witness accounts and the artists' letters, argue that Gauguin, a fencing ace, most likely sliced off the ear with his sword during a fight, and the two artists agreed to hush up the truth. In Van Gogh's Ear: Paul Gauguin and the Pact of Silence, published in Germany, Hamburg-based academics Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans argue that the official version of events, based largely on Gauguin's accounts, contain inconsistencies and that both artists hinted that the truth was more complex. Van Gogh and Gauguin's troubled friendship was legendary. In 1888, Van Gogh persuaded him to come to Arles in the south of France to live with him in the Yellow House he had set up as a "studio of the south". They spent the autumn painting together before things soured. Just before Christmas, they fell out. Van Gogh, seized by an attack of a metabolic disease became aggressive and was apparently crushed when Gauguin said he was leaving for good. Kaufmann told the Guardian: "Near the brothel, about 300 metres from the Yellow House, there was a final encounter between them: Vincent might have attacked him, Gauguin wanted to defend himself and to get rid of this 'madman'. He drew his weapon, made some movement in the direction of Vincent and by that cut off his left ear." Kaufmann said it was not clear if it was an accident or an aimed hit. While curators at the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam stand by the theory of self-mutilation, Kaufmann argues that Van Gogh dropped hints in letters to his brother, Theo, once commenting : "Luckily Gauguin ... is not yet armed with machine guns and other dangerous war weapons."" Source and further information: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/may/04/vincent-van-gogh-ear

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