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Article

Paint it Black: Using Change-Point Analysis to Investigate Increasing Vulnerability to Depression towards the End of Vincent van Gogh’s Life

1
Department of Clinical Psychology, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, University of Amsterdam, Nieuwe Achtergracht 129, Amsterdam 1018 WS, The Netherlands
2
Department of Methodology and Statistics, Faculty and Social of Behavioural Sciences, Utrecht University, Padualaan 14, Utrecht 3584 CH, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Ian Walsh and Helen Noble
Healthcare 2017, 5(3), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare5030053
Received: 24 July 2017 / Revised: 22 August 2017 / Accepted: 23 August 2017 / Published: 4 September 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanities and Healthcare)
This study investigated whether Vincent van Gogh became increasingly self-focused—and thus vulnerable to depression—towards the end of his life, through a quantitative analysis of his written pronoun use over time. A change-point analysis was conducted on the time series formed by the pronoun use in Van Gogh’s letters. We used time as a predictor to see whether there was evidence for increased self-focus towards the end of Van Gogh’s life, and we compared this to the pattern in the letters written before his move to Arles. Specifically, we examined Van Gogh’s use of first person singular pronouns (FPSP) and first person plural pronouns (FPPP) in the 415 letters he wrote while working as an artist before his move to Arles, and in the next 248 letters he wrote after his move to Arles until his death in Auvers-sur-Oise. During the latter period, Van Gogh’s use of FPSP showed an annual increase of 0.68% (SE = 0.15, p < 0.001) and his use of FPPP showed an annual decrease of 0.23% (SE = 0.04, p < 0.001), indicating increasing self-focus and vulnerability to depression. This trend differed from Van Gogh’s pronoun use in the former period (which showed no significant trend in FPSP, and an annual increase of FPPP of 0.03%, SE = 0.02, p = 0.04). This study suggests that Van Gogh’s death was preceded by a gradually increasing self-focus and vulnerability to depression. It also illustrates how existing methods (i.e., quantitative linguistic analysis and change-point analysis) can be combined to study specific research questions in innovative ways. View Full-Text
Keywords: depression; self-focus; change-point analysis; time series; arts; Vincent van Gogh depression; self-focus; change-point analysis; time series; arts; Vincent van Gogh
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MDPI and ACS Style

Van Emmerik, A.A.P.; Hamaker, E.L. Paint it Black: Using Change-Point Analysis to Investigate Increasing Vulnerability to Depression towards the End of Vincent van Gogh’s Life. Healthcare 2017, 5, 53. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare5030053

AMA Style

Van Emmerik AAP, Hamaker EL. Paint it Black: Using Change-Point Analysis to Investigate Increasing Vulnerability to Depression towards the End of Vincent van Gogh’s Life. Healthcare. 2017; 5(3):53. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare5030053

Chicago/Turabian Style

Van Emmerik, Arnold A.P., and Ellen L. Hamaker 2017. "Paint it Black: Using Change-Point Analysis to Investigate Increasing Vulnerability to Depression towards the End of Vincent van Gogh’s Life" Healthcare 5, no. 3: 53. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare5030053

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