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July 17, 2014 | by Darcy Blake | Obsessed artists are familiar persona in my life. Both my grandmother, and my mother had Parkinsons’s Disease, and they were both literally possessed with churning out art. Grandma Daisy was fixated on crocheting doilies or embroidering potholders that she crafted by the dozens. Mom crafted several things, like 200 birdhouses made out of wooden popsicle sticks during one holiday season, or watercolors of iris by the score, or paintings of us playing Monopoly. Mom kept on with her crafting until she could no longer stand or hold a paintbrush. Anything and everything was hoarded as a possible art object. Shells, driftwood, bits of fabric, tiles, and more were boxed for a future collage or mosaic.

Articles titled, The Creativity Pill, by James Hamblin published in the July 17, 2014 Atlantic, and Proof: Parkinson’s Enhances Creativity published in Bioscience Technology, July 15, 2014 describe how people who take dopamine for Parkinson’s disease sometimes begin to generate a lot of artwork, which can be differentiated by their expressiveness from obsessive or impulsive tendencies. Professor Rivka Inzelberg, a professor at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine did a 20113 study to take a look at creative thinking in medicated Parkinson’s patients.

In The Creativity Pill, Hamblin cites how one of the patients in the study was hospitalized when people close to her realized that she had crossed a line into pathological, when she started painting walls, and the washing machine. My mom was lucky because my dad was easy going, and he let her just go at it, such as constructing birdhouses that took over the house. I don’t think it was solely the effects of dopamine that caused her creative thinking. Mom had been an art teacher for much of her life previous to being diagnosed with PD. Grandma didn’t take medication, and like my mom, she was also an obsessive hobbyist.

In the end, the study showed there was no relationship between the creativity Inzelberg has been noticing and any degree of compulsive behavior.

I have many friends with PD who are equally inclined. My friend Joanne wrote,

“I just finished painting some antique wall shelves tonight.  They are now a beautiful blue.  Two days ago I painted them green.  Good to have an excuse to be a bit ditzy!”  Joanne

If you ask me, we creative types with PD are very lucky. What a way to spend one’s life, engaged in artistic passion! I guess you could say we received a precious gift when we were diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Now please excuse me, while I get busy on the next project!


About Parkinson’s Women Support
The  mission of Parkinson’s Women Support is to offer moral support, encouragement, and camaraderie for women who are either Parkinson’s Disease patients or caregivers. Check out our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/parkinsonswomen

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