Creativity in Dementia Patient
The patient, a left-handed city employee, was initially admitted to the hospital at age 65 for progressive weakness from myasthenia gravis, during which time he composed 63 poems in 12 days during his stay. Neuropsychological testing, ordered to detect an underlying neurologic cause for the patient’s compulsive behavior, revealed mild impairments in executive function; an MRI showed frontal cortical atrophy affecting the right more than the left. He revealed that he was also a disillusioned painter because people did not like his latest work, which had shifted from peaceful landscapes or still lifes to erotic fantasy themes with mythical or religious undertones (Figure 3). Over the next five years, he demonstrated an increase in socially abnormal behaviors, impulsiveness, disinhibition, and hoarding. Despite his behavioral and cognitive deterioration, the patient’s creativity blossomed, and his artistic style evolved to mix painting and sculpture. At age 69 years old, he reached his artistic apex, embarking on his magnum opus: a 6-square-meter wooden relief painting of demons engaged in sexual acts (Figure 4). He was given the formal diagnosis with FTD at the age of 70, and continues to practice art now three years later.