Professor Rivka Inzelberg is on a mission to prove her observation that people with dopamine treated Parkinson’s suddenly find a new zest for creativity. One of her earliest observations that led to this was when her patients started to bring her pieces of art that they had created, as opposed to the box of chocolates that they used to bring.
Since then she’s been looking at individual cases of Parkinson’s all over the world and has found the recurring theme of creativity in those treated with dopamine, a medication used to control movements like tremors. One of them even became a prize winning poet after starting medication, after never having been involved in anything of the kind before.
Dopamine has been linked to creativity before, with the famous case of Vincent Van Gogh who supposedly painted his best work when he was suffering from periods of psychosis, when the dopamine levels are high. It’s possible that it makes us lose our inhibitions, setting us free to do the things we would never do before because we thought we weren’t good at them.
Professor Inzelberg was so interested by her observations that she organised a research study so that she could prove that creativity is actually enhanced in Parkinson’s patients, because some people prefer scientific data rather than a feel good story. All of her specially designed tests confirmed her findings, people with Parkinson’s offered much more creative and thoughtful answers than those without. Plus, the higher their medication dose the more creative they seemed to be.
Living in a world where medications can have so many negative side-effects, this is a rare example of how the opposite can be true too. For a disease where people feel limited by their physical symptoms like tremors and loss of co-ordination, the very medication used to treat this has unwittingly given them an outlet to express themselves in another way.
Professor Inzelberg continues to explore her findings and I look forwards to seeing what she uncovers!
Faye Prior (Researcher)