van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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 7 letters relate to psychology - nightmares...Excerpt length: shorter longer  
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(28 January 1889)
... the budding theatre here. It was the first time that I slept without a bad nightmare. They were giving (it was a Provençal literary society) what they called a Noël or Pastorale, reminiscent of the Middle Ages. It was a very carefully studied performance, and must have cost them a lot of money. It represented, of course, the birth of Christ, mixed up with the burlesque of a family of gaping Provençal peasants. But the amazing thing about it, like a Rembrandt etching, was the old peasant woman, just such another as Mme. Tanguy, with a head of silex or flint, dishonest, treacherous, silly, all this very evident from the preceding scenes. Now in the play that woman, led before the mystic crib, began to sing in her quavering voice, and then the voice changed, changed from the voice of a witch to that of an angel, and from an angel's voice to a child's, and then the answer came in another voice, strong and warm and vibrant, the voice ...
Letter from Dr. Peyron to Theo van Gogh
(26 May 1889)
... day he observes that his health improves. In the beginning he was subject to distressing nightmares which troubled him, but he observes that these distressing dreams have tended to disappear and decrease in intensity, resulting in a more restful and restorative sleep for him; he also has a better appetite. In short, since his entry he has made a slight improvement in his state and this makes him hope for a complete recovery in the future. He is occupied all day drawing in the park, where he now is, but since I see he is perfectly calm, I promised him that I would allow him to go to see different points of view outside of the establishment.
Letters from Dr. T. Peyron to Theo van Gogh
(1889 - 1890)
... that his health is improving day by day. At first he was subject to painful nightmares with disturbed him, but he tells me that these bad dreams tend to disappear and become less and less intense, so that now he has a more peaceful and restoring sleep; he also eats with a better appetite. To sum up: since his arrival here there has been a slight improvement in his condition which makes him hope for a complete recovery. He spends the entire day drawing in the park here, but as I find him entirely tranquil, I have promised to let him go out in order to find scenery outside this establishment. You ask for my opinion regarding the probable cause of his illness. I must tell you that for the time being I will not make any prognosis, but I fear that it may be serious, as I have every reason to believe that the attack which he has had is the result of a state of epilepsy and if this should be confirmed one should be concerned about the future. I hope to go to Paris...
Letter from Doctor Peyron to Theo van Gogh
(3 or 4 September 1889)
... thoughts of suicide have disappeared, only disturbing dreams remain, but they tend to disappear too, and their intensity is less great. His appetite has returned, and he has resumed his usual mode of life. With my best compliments, Yours Faithfully, Dr. Peyron ...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 2 November 1889)
... see it more clearly than before. Fortunately those abominable nightmares have stopped tormenting me. I hope to go to Arles one of these days. I should so much like Jo to see the “Veillée.” I think I shall send you a package in a little while, but it is drying very badly because of the dampness of the studio. Here there is hardly any cellar or foundation to the houses, and you feel the damp more than in the North. Those at home will have moved by now. I will add six canvases for them to the next package. Is it necessary to have them framed? - perhaps not, because they are not worth it. Above all do not get the studies that I send from time to time framed, we can do that later on, it's no use their taking up too much room. I have also done a canvas for M. Peyron; a view of the house with a big pine . I hope you and Jo continue well. I am glad that you are not alone any more and that everything is more normal than it used to...

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