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Parkinson’s and Creativity

By Dan McCrory Some of you may remember comic book superhero Daredevil. Played by Ben Affleck in the movies, lawyer-by-day Matthew Murdock takes to the rooftops at night to fight crime as Daredevil despite the fact that he’s blind! It seems his other senses are super-amplified to compensate for his blindness. Not long after my […]

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By Dan McCrory

Some of you may remember comic book superhero Daredevil. Played by Ben Affleck in the movies, lawyer-by-day Matthew Murdock takes to the rooftops at night to fight crime as Daredevil despite the fact that he’s blind! It seems his other senses are super-amplified to compensate for his blindness.

Not long after my diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, I spent four years publishing my first book, Capitalism Killed the Middle Class, part memoir, part politics, part history lesson. I was hyper-focused and hardly came up for air for 48 months. For the twelve months since, I haven’t been able to ignore the onslaught of book, script, or poetry ideas that assail me 24/7. Writer’s block? What’s that?

What’s going on, I asked myself as I sprang out of bed at 2 a.m. to jot down an idea for a TV series. I figured: a) I was making up for lost time at the age of 65 or b) my disease was focusing my creative output.  I sat on the edge of the bed and googled Parkinson’s and creativity.

Research has found that about 20 percent of Parkinson’s patients either suddenly develop a passion for a creative outlet like painting or writing or, if already so inclined, find their talent has flourished and they’re producing much more.

I knew I hadn’t discovered why this was happening so I dug deeper. There are numerous treatments and medicines to counteract the advancement of the neurological disease. These medicines attempt to replenish the dopamine loss in the nervous system that eventually robs us of ease of motion, facial expression, and gives us facial tics, body tremors, hallucinations, delusions, and nightmares.

One of the drugs prescribed often is levodopa, a dopamine replacement meant to manage those tremors and stiffness. An article in the Asian Journal of Psychiatry reported a possible levodopa connection: increased artistic creativity and attributed the creative impulse to “hyperactivity and behavioral disinhibition,” “stimulation by dopamine agonists,” or “the emergence of innate skills.” All, however, agree that creative expression “could be beneficial.”

All in all, the prognosis is a positive one. Now, if only I could get some sleep.

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