Was it the drugs, or was it the parky’s?

So, the question is whether we ought to read carefully, or just the headlines.

Parkinson’s UK posted this article today on the supposed link between Parkinson’s and creativity. It was the third paragraph before these words appeared: ‘The researchers spilt [sic] the people with Parkinson’s into 2 groups and found that those who took more Parkinson’s medication were the most creative.’

The research that this references is also reported here. Much as I hate to be a killjoy, the header to this press release, ‘Proof: Parkinson’s enhances creativity’ no more understands what the word ‘proof’ means than it bothered to read the release, which again says this:

The conclusions from the second round of testing — in which the Parkinson’s participants were split into higher- and lower-medicated groups — also demonstrated a clear link between medication and creativity. Parkinson’s patients suffer from a lack of dopamine, which is associated with tremors and poor coordination. As such, they are usually treated with either synthetic precursors of dopamine or dopamine receptor agonists

According to Prof. Inzelberg, the results are hardly surprising, because dopamine and artistry have long been connected. “We know that Van Gogh had psychotic spells, in which high levels of dopamine are secreted in the brain, and he was able to paint masterpieces during these spells – so we know there is a strong relationship between creativity and dopamine,” said Prof. Inzelberg.

 

Ah, so the link is with the drugs, not the disease … and anyway, correlation does not equal causation, as any fule kno. To extrapolate van Gogh’s ‘psychotic interludes’ with increased dopamine levels (they obviously have proof of this, and are not speculating at all, right?) and thence to his painting masterpieces  and thus to ‘a strong relationship between creativity and dopamine’ is doing logic, and science, a disservice.

The most shocking thing of all is that it’s in the Daily friggin’ Mail that this is finally pointed out:

Do Parkinson’s drugs make people more CREATIVE? Pills that increase dopamine levels may improve artistic abilities

So, the DM not always total bollocks.
It also, however, included the following:

Professor Inzelberg’s latest research, which looks at clear evidence that creativity might be due to obsessive tendencies, was published this week in the journal Annals of Neurology.

According to James Hamblin writing in The Atlantic, Professor Inzelberg concluded there was no relationship between the creativity she had been noticing and any degree of compulsive behaviour.

This is intriguing, as not only do  I see a clear link between the obsessive-compulsive behaviours that are exacerbated by PD drugs, but so (wait for it) does Freud:
Freud defined sublimation as ‘the power [of an instinct] to replace its immediate aim by other aims which may be valued more highly’, yet Leslie Hill suggests it is a far from complete theory: ‘Sublimation, then, names a process of displacement that shows little respect for continuity or identity. It functions as an index for the enigmatic [my italics] production of the non-sexual from the sexual, or the cultural from the erotic; but as such […] what it offers is less a theory of cultural productions than a myth of origins. Sublimation, it appears, is more like a fable than a concept.’ Freud explains the need for this ‘fable’ in On Sexuality’: ‘The very incapacity of the sexual instinct to yield complete satisfaction as soon as it submits to the first demands of civilisation becomes the source, however, of the noblest cultural achievements which are brought into being by ever more extensive sublimation of its instinctual components. For what motive could men have for putting sexual instinctual forces to other uses if, by any distribution of these forces, they could obtain fully satisfying pleasure? They would never abandon that pleasure and they would never make any further progress,’ or, as we saw above: ‘What appears to be a renunciation is really the formation of a substitute or surrogate.’ Sublimation is the diversion of sexual instincts which cannot be satisfied to other ends, most notably cultural or the urge for knowledge. As Freud noted in the life of Leonardo da Vinci, such aims become a substitute for sexual activity: ‘the libido evades the fate of repression by being sublimated from the very beginning into curiosity and by becoming attached to the powerful instinct for research as a reinforcement. Here, too, the research becomes to some extent compulsive and a substitute for sexual activity.’
Hmm … interesting, no?
For the text above, see Freud, Klein and Dr. Seuss.
The researchers also spilt the people with Parkinson’s into 2 groups and found that those who took more Parkinson’s medication were the most creative. – See more at: http://www.parkinsons.org.uk/news/22-july-2014/parkinsons-enhances-creativity#sthash.2bFwJwV2.dpuf
The researchers also spilt the people with Parkinson’s into 2 groups and found that those who took more Parkinson’s medication were the most creative. – See more at: http://www.parkinsons.org.uk/news/22-july-2014/parkinsons-enhances-creativity#sthash.2bFwJwV2.dpuf
The researchers also spilt the people with Parkinson’s into 2 groups and found that those who took more Parkinson’s medication were the most creative. – See more at: http://www.parkinsons.org.uk/news/22-july-2014/parkinsons-enhances-creativity#sthash.2bFwJwV2.dpuf

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