The fine art of mental illness: What paintings tell us about someone’s psyche

Vincent van Gogh’s art is infused with isolation: a lonely chair, a grieving doctor, a brooding sky. For one psychiatrist, the French master’s paintings — and those of other artists throughout history — contain clues about mental illness, too.

James C. Harris, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science and director of Johns Hopkins University’s Developmental Neuropsychiatry Clinic, spent more than a decade writing monthly essays that connect the visual arts to larger issues of psychiatry and mental illness.

Now, those essays and the art that inspired them have been collected by the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

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