Dopamine agonists in Parkinson's disease (PD) have been reported to enhance creativity, and even change artistic style and productivity. The same treatment can cause a variety of impulse control disorders (ICDs). There is mixed evidence from case reports about their association, some of which have linked these behaviours together. The role of dopamine (while established in ICDs) in creativity remains speculative, but evidence is drawn from a number of models including PD, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
We add to the literature by presenting a professional artist with PD who developed a complulsive shopping disorder on dopamine agonist therapy. During this period she also demonstrated a significant increase in creativity and production of artwork. Cessation of dopamine agonist therapy resulted in resolution of impulsive behaviour to a subsyndromal level but also a reduction in creativity and productivity.
We explore the relationship between dopamine, impulsivity and creativity and the link with prepotent habits. We highlight the need to both beneficial and pathological consequences of these behaviors and therefore a need to grade the severity of impulsivity according to its impact on patient welfare. We also consider whether drugs such as dopamine agonists could be used as for cognitive enhancement, a ‘creativity pill’.
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