Current Psychiatry Reports

, Volume 2, Issue 5, pp 421–426

The personality associated with Parkinson’s disease

  • Matthew Menza


Since at least 1913 reports have suggested there are personality traits and behaviors that are found premorbidly in those who go on to develop Parkinson’s disease (PD). This premorbid personality consists of traits such as industriousness, punctuality, inflexibility, cautiousness, and lack of novelty seeking and persists after the onset of the motor illness. The existence of this personality remains controversial but is supported by case-based anecdotes, twin studies, and comparison of patients with PD with medical control patients on standardized instruments. In addition a large number of epidemiologic studies show that people who develop PD have low lifetime risks for cigarette smoking, coffee drinking, and alcohol consumption, again suggesting that there is a behavior pattern that predates PD. Despite the retrospective nature of much of these data, the use of nonstandardized instruments, and diffuse concepts of personality, the great majority of studies show striking similarity in identifying these traits. An integrating hypothesis, involving damage to dopaminergic systems, known to predate the onset of the motor illness, is discussed.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References and Recommended Reading

  1. 1.
    Camp CD: Paralysis agitans, multiple sclerosis and their treatment. In Modern Treatment of Nervous and Mental Disease, by American and British Authors. Edited by White WA, Jelliffe SE, Kimpton H. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger; 1913:651–667.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bernheimer H. Birkmayer W, Hornykiewicz O, et al.: Brain dopamine and the syndromes of Parkinson and Huntington: clinical morphological and biochemical correlations. J Neurol Sci 1973, 20:415–455.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Jelliffe SE: The Parkinsonian body posture: some considerations on unconscious hostility. Psychoanalyst Rev 1940, 27:467–479.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Sands IJ: The type of personality susceptible to Parkinson’s disease. J Mt Sinai Hosp 1942, 9:792–794.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Booth G: Psychodynamics in Parkinsonism. Psychosom Med 1948, 10:1–14.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Prichard JS, Schwab RS, Tillann WA: The effects of stress and the results of medication in different personalities with Parkinson’s disease. Psychosom Med 1951, 13:106–111.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Machover S: Rorschach study on the nature and origin of common factors in personalities of parkinsonians. Psychosom Med 1957, 19:332–338.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Riklan M, Weiner H, Diller L: Somato-psychologic studies in Parkinson’s disease. 1. An investigation into the relationship of certain disease factors to psychological functions. J Nerv Ment Dis 1959, 129:263–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Riklan M, Levita E: Subcortical Correlates of Human Behavior. A Psychologic Study of Thalamic and Basal Ganglia Surgery. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins; 1969:226–231.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Mitscherllich M: The psychic state of patients suffering from Parkinsonism. Adv Psychosom Med 1960, 1:317–324.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Prick JJG: Genuine parkinsonism. A psychosomatic, anthropological-psychiatric approach. Abs World Congress of Psychiatry Madrid, 1966. Sandorama Special Number IV, 1966.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Lit AC: Man behind a mask. An analysis of the psychomotor phenomena of Parkinson’s disease. Acta Nerol Belg 1968, 68:863–874.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ogawa T: Personality characteristics of Parkinson’s disease. Percept Mot Skills 1981, 52:375–378.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Poewe W, Gerstenbrand F, Ransmayr G, Plorer: Premorbid personality of Parkinson patients. J Neuroal Transmission Suppl 1983, 19:215–224.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ward CD, Duvoisin RC, Ince SE, et al.: Parkinson’s disease in twins. In Advances in Neurology, vol 40. Edited by RG Hassler, Christ F. New York: Raven Press; 1984:341–344.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Heberlein I, Ludin H, Scholz J, Vieregge P: Personality, depression, and premorbid lifestyle in twin pairs discordant for Parkinson’s disease. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1998, 64:262–266.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Vieregge P, Hagenah J, Heberlein I, et al.: Parkinson’s disease in twins. A follow-up study. Neurology 1999, 53:566–572.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Smythies JR: The previous personality in Parkinsonism. J Psychosom Res 1967, 11:169–171.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Eatough VM, Kempster PA, Stern GM, et al.: Premorbid personality and idiopathic Parkinson’s disease. In Advances in Neurology, vol 53. New York: Raven Press; 1990:335–337.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Poewe W, Karamat E, Kemmler GW, Gerstenbrand F: The premorbid personality of patients with Parkinson’s disease: a comparative study with healthy controls and patients with essential tremor. In Advances in Neurology, vol 53. Edited by Streifler MB, Korczyn AD, Melamed E, Youdim MBH, New York: Raven Press; 1990:339–342.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Jinenez-Jinenez FJ, Santos J, Zancada F, et al.: Premorbid personality of patients with Parkinson’s disease. Acta Neurol (Napoli) 1992, 14:208–214.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Hubble JP, Benkatesch R, Hassanein RES, et al.: Personality and depression in Parkinson’s disease. J Nerv Ment Dis 1993, 181:657–662.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Glosser G, Clark C, Freundlich B, et al.: A controlled investigation of current and premorbid personality: characteristics of Parkinson’s disease patients. Mov Disord 1995, 10:2:201–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Hornykiewicz O, Kish SJ: Biochemical pathophysiology of Parkinson’s disease. Adv Neurol 1986, 45:19–34.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Agid Y, Cervera P, Hirsch E, et al.: Biochemistry of Parkinson’s disease 28 years later: a critical review. Mov Disord 1989, 4(suppl 1):S126-S124.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    The Neuropharmacological Basis of Reward. Edited by Liebman JM, Cooper SJ. Oxford: Clarendon Press; 1989.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Iversen SD: Brain dopamine systems and behavior. In Handbook of Psychopharmacology, vol 8. Edited by Iversen LL, Iversen SD, Snyder SH. New York: Plenum Publishing; 1977:333–374.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Bardo MT, Donohew RL, Harrington NG: Psychobiology of novelty seeking and drug seeking behavior. Behav Brain Res 1996, 77:23–43.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Cloninger RC: A systematic method for clinical description and classification of personality variants. Arch Gen Psychiatry 1987, 44:573–588.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Menza MA, Forman NE, Goldstein HS, Golbe LI: Parkinson’s disease, personality and dopamine. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci 1990, 2:282–287.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Fibiger HC: The neurobiological substrates of depression in Parkinson’s disease: a hypothesis. Can J Neurol Sci 1984, 11(suppl 1):105–107.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Taylor AD, Saint-Cyr JA: The neuropsychology of Parkinson’s disease. Brain Cogn 1995, 28:281–296.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Menza MA, Golbe LI, Cody RA, Forman NE: Dopamine-related personality traits in Parkinson’s disease. Neurology 1993, 43:505–508.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Menza MA, Mark M, Burn D, Brooks D: Psychiatric correlates of 18F-dopa striatal uptake: positron emission tomography results in Parkinson’s disease. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosciences 1995, 7:176–179.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Kahn HA: The Dorn study of smoking and mortality among U.S. veterans: report on eight and one-half years of observation. In Epidemiologic Approaches to the Study of Cancer and Other Chronic Disease. National Cancer Institute Monograph No. 19. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1966:1–125.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Hammond CA: Smoking in relation to the death rates of one million men and women. In Epidemiologic Approaches to the Study of Cancer and Other Chronic Disease. National Cancer Institute Monograph No. 19. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office 1966:127–204.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Kessler II, Diamond EL: Epidemiologic studies of Parkinson’s disease: I. Smoking and Parkinson’s disease: a survey and explanatory hypothesis. Am J Epidemiol 1971, 94:16–25.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Marttila RJ, Rinne UK: Smoking and Parkinson’s disease. Acta Neurol Scand 1980, 62:322–325.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Baumann RJ, Jameson HD, McKean HE, et al.: Cigarette smoking and Parkinson’s disease: I. A comparison of cases with matched neighbors. Neurology 1980, 30:839–843.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Godwin-Austen RB, Lee PN, Marmot MG, et al.: Smoking and Parkinson’s disease. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1982, 45:577–581.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Jimenez-Jimenez FJ, Mateo D, Ginenez-Rolday S: Premorbid smoking, alcohol consumption, and coffee drinking habits in Parkinson’s disease. A case-control study. Mov Disord 1992, 4:4:339–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Gorell JM, Rybicki BA, Johnson CC, Peterson EL: Smoking and Parkinson’s disease: a dose-response relationship. Neurology 1999, 52:115–119. A good review of the evidence indicating that patients who develop PD have a reduced lifetime risk of having been smokers.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Ross WG, Abbott RD, Petrovitch H, et al.: Association of coffee and caffeine intake with the risk of Parkinson disease. JAMA 2000, 283:2674–2679. A large prospective study of caffeine intake and the risk for PD. Patients who are non-coffee drinkers have five times the risk of developing PD as do heavy coffee drinkers.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Nehlig A, Boyet S: Dose-response study of caffeine effects on cerebral functional activity with a specific focus on dependence. Brain Res 2000, 858:71–77.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Wise RA: Neurobiology of addiction. Curr Opin Neurobiol 1996, 6:243–251.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Rowell PP, Carr LA, Garner AC: Stimulation of [3H]dopamine release by nicotine in rat nucleus accumbens. J Neurochem 1987, 49:1449–1454.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Henningfield JE, Goldberg SR: Nicotine as a reinforcer in human subjects and laboratory animals. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 1983, 19:989–992.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Zuckerman M, Ball S, Black J: Influences of sensation seeking, gender, risk appraisal and situational motivation on smoking. Addict Behav 1990, 15:209–220.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Menza MA, Forman NE, Sage JI: Parkinson’s Disease and smoking: the relationship to personality. Neuropsychiatry Neuropsychol Behav Neurol 1993, 6:214–218.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Cummings JL: Depression and Parkinson’s disease: a review. Am J Psych 1992, 149:443–454.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Stenager EN, Wermuth L, Stenager E, Boldsen J: Suicide in patients with Parkinson’s disease. an epidemiological study. Acta Psychiatr Scand 1994, 90:70–72.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Paulson GW, Dadmehr N: Is there a premorbid personality typical for Parkinson’s disease? Neurology 1991, 41(suppl 2):73–76.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Current Science Inc 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew Menza
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical SchoolPiscatawayUSA

Personalised recommendations