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Municipal Hospital (4 class ward No. 9)
If you come here towards the end of June, you will find me
at work again, I hope; for the time being I am in the hospital,
where I shall stay only a fortnight, however. For three weeks I
have been suffering from insomnia and low fever, and
So now I have to stay quietly in bed here, swallow many
quinine pills, and also have injections now and then, either of
pure water or of alum water, so it is as harmless as can be.
Therefore you need not worry at all about it. But you know, one
must not neglect such things, and should have them attended to
at once, because neglect only aggravates it. Witness Breitner,
who is still here, though in another ward, and perhaps he will
leave soon; he doesn't know I'm here. You will do me a favour
by not talking about it, for people sometimes exaggerate so,
and gossip makes things seem worse. You're the only one I'm
telling exactly what it is; you needn't keep it a secret if
anyone should ask you directly, and at all events you needn't
get alarmed about it.
Of course I had to pay a fortnight in advance, 10.50
guilders for all expenses. There is no difference as to food or
treatment between the persons who are free patients and those
who pay 10.50 guilders; there are ten patients in a ward, and I
can only say that the treatment is very good in all respects. I
do not feel bored at all, and the rest and the thoroughly
practical, intensive medical treatment do me good.
If it is convenient, be so kind as to send 50 fr. about June
20 to the above-mentioned address, but not by registered
mail. You know that I received 100 fr. on June 1. So then I
shall be safe no matter what happens. If I have to stay longer,
I will pay extra and stay on, and if not, I shall have the
money to start work again. Of course I should prefer to start
working in a fortnight, and within a fortnight I shall
certainly be longing for a walk in the dunes.
Sien comes to see me on visiting days and keeps an eye on
Now you should know that the day before I came here, I
received a letter from C. M. in which he wrote a whole lot
about the “interest” he has in me, and which he
says Mr. Tersteeg has also shown me, but he did not approve of
my having been so ungrateful to Tersteeg for his marks of
sympathy. It may be so. I am lying here calmly and quietly
enough, but I can tell you, Theo, that I should certainly lose
my temper if some person or other came to see me again with the
kind of interest Tersteeg has shown me on certain occasions.
And when I think how he pushed his interest so far as to have
the nerve to compare me with an opium smoker, then I am still
astonished that for my part I did not show him my interest in
the form of a “go to hell.”
Speaking of smoking opium - the comfort and the luxury, the
kind of glory in which H. G. T. moves, and a reasonably strong
dose of flattery people in general administer to him, these are
the things which drug his Honour more than he himself is
In short, notwithstanding the superficial elegance of his
behaviour, notwithstanding his superficially refined manners,
his nice clothes, etc., etc., when thinking them over, and also
recalling them to my mind, I find something
“false” in his Honour's character. I wish it
were otherwise, but I cannot speak differently.
Without doubting for a moment that his Honour is a clever
man, another question is important to my respecting him. Is he
a good man? That is to say, a man who does not nurture hatred,
grudges, chicanery, sarcasm in his mind merely on principle.
That is the question.
I did not answer C. M.'s last letter, nor shall I. However,
I appreciate his saying that sometime he will buy from me again
out of interest, especially if he means it, which remains to be
Of course a letter from you would make me very happy these
days. Sien is getting ready to go to Leyden. I often think of
her - I am expecting her now - I hope she will pull through
I have fought against being ill as long as I could, and
continued working, but at last I felt it was urgent to consult
But this morning he again told me that I would soon be
I am the less sorry to be lying quietly here for a few days,
seeing that in case I should need to, I should be able to get
an official statement from the doctor here to the effect that I
am not the person to be sent to Gheel or to be put under
And if this should not be enough, another one, if I were to
take the trouble, from the Medical Director of the Lying-in
Hospital at Leyden, a professor.
But perhaps those people who might possibly feel the urge to
declare that it would be such a great advantage to
society or to the family if someone like me were
declared insane or put under guardianship are such awfully big
bugs that they know much more about those things than, for
instance, the doctor here. Enfin.
Did you receive the two little drawings?
Adieu, a handshake, and wishing you as much prosperity as a
man can stand,
I feel obliged to tell you again that in case they want to
attempt something like putting me under guardianship on
physical grounds, the precedent of the Gheel affair
would make it awkward for the family suddenly to take a
different stand, and base their action no longer on
physical but on financial grounds.
Such things don't cut any ice. But I repeat, I hope things
will not be pushed as far as that.
But please write soon, for I am anxiously looking forward to
a letter from you. You understand, Theo, that I don't talk
about family matters with either the physician here or the
professor at Leyden - only seeing that I am being treated by
the former and Sien, by the latter, if I needed it, one word
would get me a statement from these gentlemen, contradicting a
possible differing statement by some persons you spoke of.
At this time, Vincent was 29 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 8 or 9 June 1882 in The Hague. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 206.
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