The importance of contemporaneous notes

“We civilised people labour under melancholy and pessimism…”

Vincent Van Gogh

Health professionals are familiar with the phrase if you didn’t write it down it didn’t happen. We all know the story of Van Gogh self mutilating his left ear with a razor. The self portrait with bandaged head produced shortly after the 1888 incident has a become an iconic image of the artist. The controversial aspect of the event is the amount of ear actually removed by the depressed and agitated Van Gogh. After the episode of self harm, Vincent was treated by French doctor and friend Felix Rey. Rey tried subsequently to deal with speculation by producing a sketch of the injury suffered by the artist. It is important, but not as definitive as you might hope. The sketch was drawn from memory in 1930. Medicolegal experts would be quick to point out that retrspective notes carry very little weight. #atimebeforeepas #letsmakelemonade

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