Clinical case review

Distraction: can it help control the symptoms of bipolar disorder?

Gordon Parker



A patient finds that building Lego® models helps to focus his mind and control the mood changes of bipolar disorder.

Article Extract

Case scenario

Dean is now 36 years old and has been on medications for many years for his bipolar illness. He never liked how he felt when on medication, stating that it flattened out his emotions and totally changed his personality. But now Dean reports that he has found a nondrug way to handle his disabling psychotic thoughts and mood changes. He has spent a lot of money on Lego® building blocks and when he begins to feel unstable, he builds intricate models that he has to intently focus on; he says he then ‘has no room left in his brain’ to ruminate on his thoughts or moods. He sometimes also gains a great deal of relief from smashing up models that he has already constructed. In this way, he has been able to function quite normally, using no medication, for the past two years.

Is there any evidence-based research on the use of this type of distraction as a method of handling psychotic disease?