van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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 42 letters relate to psychology - depression...Excerpt length: shorter longer  
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(22 June 1882)
... this whole business of lying here ill. Except for Sien, her mother, and for Father, I have not seen anybody, which is indeed for the best, though the days are rather lonesome and melancholy. Involountarily I often think how much more gloomy and lonesome things are now than, for instance, when I went to Mauve for the first time this winter. It stabs me to the heart and depresses me whenever I think of it, though I try to throw the whole thought overboard like useless ballast. I heard from one of the attendants that Breitner left the hospital recently. I believe that the doctor in this ward is a little more abrupt than in the more expensive wards; so much the better. Perhaps they are less afraid to hurt the patients a little here than in the more expensive wards, and, for instance, they often put a catheter into the bladder quickly, without “ceremony” or fuss. Well, so much the better, I think, and I repeat, I find it just as interesting here as in a ...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(22 October 1882)
... this is the composition . I entirely agree with what you say about those times now and then when one feels dull-witted in the face of nature or when nature seems to have stopped speaking to us. I get the same feeling quite often and it sometimes helps if I then tackle something quite different. When I feel jaded with landscape or light effects, I tackle figures, and vice versa. Sometimes there is nothing for it but to wait for it to pass, but many a time I manage to do away with the numbness by changing my subject matter. However, I am becoming more and more fascinated by the figure. I remember there used to be a time when my feeling for landscape was very strong and I was much more impressed by a painting or drawing which captured a light effect or the atmosphere of a landscape than I was by the figure. Indeed, figure painters in general filled me with a kind of cool respect rather than with warm sympathy However, I remember very well being...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(1 November 1882)
... it all came fresh into my thoughts again. I had collected and mounted my hundred studies, and when I had finished the job, a rather melancholy feeling of “what's the use?” came over me. But then those energetic words of Herkomer's, urging the public not to flag and saying that it is more necessary than ever to keep the hand to the plough, comforted me so, and I thought I would give you a short summary of what he said. A handshake in thought, believe me, Yours sincerely, Vincent I hope to hear from you soon. I had a good letter from home. ...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 11 December 1882)
... trouble is really quite gone, but I feel rather depressed at present, whereas at other moments, when my work progresses well, I am quite cheerful, and feel kind of like a soldier who isn't at home in the guardhouse, and argues thus to himself, “Why must I be in prison here, when I should be much better off among the rank and file where I belong?” I mean, I feel depressed because I have a strength in me which circumstances prevent from developing as well as it could; the result is that I often feel miserable. A kind of internal struggle about what I must do - which is not as easy to solve as might seem at first. I wish I had a job which would help me make progress. Many jobs which might possibly be within my reach would lead me to things quite different from those I aim at. These jobs are out of my reach, for though I might be accepted at first, they would not be satisfied with me in the long run; they would fire me or I would leave of my own...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(3 February 1883)
... they were on the old Bridge of Sighs. I have been feeling very weak lately. I am afraid I have been overworking myself, and how miserable the “dregs” of the work are, that depression after overexertion. Life is then the colour of dishwater; it becomes something like an ash heap. On such a day one would like to have the company of a friend. That sometimes clears up the leaden mist. On such days I am sometimes terribly worried about the future and am melancholy about my work, and feel quite helpless. But it is dangerous to speak or think too much about it, so enough of it. In spite of this, I have been working on a watercolour, another sketch of diggers, or rather, road menders, here on the Schenkweg; but it's rotten.

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