“Art is the “objectification of feeling” art is often hard to describe…one usually fumbles for words to express with the right words what we see….
But it isn’t hard at all to FEEL art, to look at images upon a canvas and sense the power, the anger, the love, and even the despair that inspired the work of arts….”Suzanne k. Langer
I have not written much lately and there is a curious reason for this ..reminded me of Curious Case of Benjamin Button movie starring Brad Pitt. I thought I would share my musings with you and see what you guys think. As you may know, I have been a long time proponent of art therapy as an alternative treatment for Parkinson’s but more important than this for years as a neuroscientist I have discussed the notion of creativity being somehow related to “brain pathology.”
In my Parkinson’s Diva book I devoted a whole chapter to art therapy as a second chance (if you will) given to us by a Higher being (GOD) as way to flourish and bring forth beauty. Many have read the big debate regarding artistic expressions in PD. The question remains whether is a result of medications or an inherent part of PD. But perhaps there is a third option. Perhaps the artistic expression occurs as a result of chemical imbalances activating parts of the brain we usually don’t rely on for functioning.
First of all we have to look at the way we define “normal” (brain functioning). What is Normal? and who came up with this idea of setting specific parameters? could it be that what we term normal is actually just average? (after all statistically speaking normal is simply a term for the average in a bell curve)
I have devoted my adult life to the study of neurological behaviors and to understanding the great complexities of our brains. After nearly 30 years, I must say that I understand its inner functioning even less than I did when I first began. I am not really surprised by this being that I believe that a superior God with infinite power and knowledge created us to His image with a 100 billion neurons with a trillion connections – are we so arrogant to pretend we understand how it works? We might have a better understanding I think of how space works -infinite less complex and smaller than our brains.
For years, i have treated patients with number of neurological illnesses such as epilepsy, dementia, Parkinson’s, bipolar disease etc. all of whom had expressed time and time again their desire to be untreated or under-treated in order to be able to feel themselves particularly to experience the creative flow weather it be writing, painting sculpting, etc.
I have always been an admirer of great artists and writers like Van Gogh, Picasso, Hemingway many of whom interestingly have had severe neurological illnesses. some of whom created their masterpieces while being hospitalized in mental institutions. Scientists have been able to cause creativity in the form of art by stimulating certain parts of the brain while many individuals have suddenly gained artistic knowledge where once none existed after a traumatic brain injury. While some Alzheimer patients have become great sculptors and painters as their disease advanced.
Around the time I began to experience my first symptoms of Parkinson’s, I felt a sudden irresistible urge to write poetry, after years of not reading or writing poetry, which used to be one of my favorite past times as a young woman. The outpouring cleansed my soul and brought not only peace by putting into words my fears, frustrations etc. but also allow me to move forward with my life after the PD and cancer diagnosis by putting closure on things that were painful to me.
The creativity over the last decade of me dealing with PD increased exponentially on its own from increased interest in writing (poetry and other forms), art appreciation in all manner in my life from my teaching style, to fashion and decor, to developing an actual interest in painting (something I never even had a minimal desire in doing). I also noted that taking levodopa fueled that desired and increased an out-pour of artistic expression almost in a manic fashion.
However, the interesting and curious thing about this whole ordeal is that over the last several weeks as i have somehow found an equilibrium in my life with both alternative and traditional therapies feeling nearly “normal” being able to do things which I had not been able to carry out in years like tending house daily- doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, running with daughter, teaching etc. without feeling tired, weak, stiff, shaky and in pain; I have noted a sudden decrease (almost lacking completely) in creativity, in desire to write, paint, or express myself in an artistic fashion. It has been hard to come up with ideas for any of my projects which most nowadays depend on some sort of creative flow. i don’t want to write among other things.
Although, I am thrilled to be feeling this great physically – (hope it last) I am feeling a loss of that newly found creativity which was new, foreign, and exciting especially for someone who always had a scientific mind.
For years, I have studied brain pathology and neurological diseases trying to infer what is normal but perhaps i have been wrong of what normal really is or rather what makes genius. perhaps the phrase mad genius is not so far off…
One must be a bit off center to be able to express oneself in an artistic fashion what ever medium they choose. so should we be medicating all these people into mediocrity/normalcy?
Perhaps the greatest gift Parkinson’s disease had given me and many of us is that chance to be closer to the mind of God; after all He is the greatest artist and creator as evidence by nature. Plus, having lived with PD for more than a decade i can certainly agree with Edward de Bono who stated that ‘creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way!” – Boy, none more than us who live with PD have learned to break out of patterns/routines in our lives to look and find unique solutions to everyday way of living.
The question remains will i stay feeling healthy and physically ‘normal’ without much interest or desire for creative expression or will my creativity return should my Pd symptoms take hold of me once more? Having tasted the sweet feeling of being almost manic is easy to understand why no one would ever feel the desire to return to a state of equilibrium especially if you lose an integral part of your being – that of being an artist, a writer, a poet, etc.
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