Van Gogh and Gauguin were sharing a small room in Arles, France. The evening before the ear cutting incident they were at a Cafe drinking absinthe, a known epileptogenic drink that is now illegal. For no apparent reason Van Gogh picked up his absinthe and threw it at Gauguin. The next day he couldn't remember having done it. Gauguin told him he was going to go elsewhere, which upset Van Gogh. Gauguin went out for a walk... "Going to his mirror and taking up his razor, van Gogh began to shave the edges of his ruddy beard. Just then, he told the doctor, he heard a disembodied voice commanding him to kill Gauguin. In Rey's (the doctor's) opinion, van Gogh had seized; the voice was a TLE (Temporal Lobe Epilepsy) seizure, coming from inside his brain. Prompted by the voice, van Gogh went out into the empty street. He approached the public garden, passed between the firs and bouganvillea bushes that marked its entrance, and walked along the garden path, the blade still in his hand. In a few minutes he reached Gauguin who, hearing footsteps, turned to find his host, fifteen feet behind him, looking crazed and holding up a blade. Van Gogh appeared to be in a trance. Moments later, he swung around and ran home, where he used the blade on himself, slicing off the lower half of his ear, the source of the voice that had told him to kill Gauguin. To staunch the blood gushing from the wound, van Gogh pressed towel after towel to his head, dropping the soiled ones to the floor. Hours passed. Gauguin did not return; he had decided to spend the night at a hotel. Around midnight, van Gogh picked up his severed ear, wrapped it in paper, and went out. He walked through the village to a brothel that Gauguin frequented, where he left his ear on the stoop with a note saying it was a "keepsake" for a prostitute who had once posed for him. He returned home, escorted by a neighbor who had been alerted to his strange behaviour, and went to sleep. The next morning, roused by officers summoned by the neighbor, he was taken to the hospital, where he met Felix Rey." -Seized Eve LaPlante 1993 She points out earlier in the chapter that this Dr. Rey had happened to be reading aticles on the various manifestations of seizure disorders by the great British Neurologist J. Hughlings Jackson. Before hearing the voice, van Gogh had started to suffer from occasional startling disturbances in his visual field, stomach aches, and mood swings. A couple of months after the incident he had a grand mal seizure that was witnessed by a nurse who was sent to keep him company while he painted.