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Vincent's bandage

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7326.1434 (Published 15 December 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1434
  1. Philip Thomas, consultant psychiatrists,
  2. Pat Bracken, consultant psychiatrists
  1. Bradford Community Health Trust

    The art of selling a drug for bipolar disorder

    Over the past few months the British Journal of Psychiatry has contained a striking image of Vincent Van Gogh. The BMJ has also carried the image. Those who attended the annual general meeting of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in July 2001 encountered the same image in a lofty, softly lit hall, a shrine to the pharmaceutical industry. The image—consisting of renditions of one of Van Gogh's self portraits against psychedelically coloured backgrounds, echoing Andy Warhol's Marilyn—formed a devotional icon to the drug valproate semisodium. But this is a Vincent with a difference. A large dressing covers his left ear, held in place by two strips of adhesive dressing. What are we to make of this? What is really being said here?

    It is well known that Vincent Van Gogh removed part of his left ear. In October 1888 Paul Gaugin visited …

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