What is Thought Disorder?

What is Thought Disorder? Here is your perfect guide!

Mental health1 has become very important these days, and you cannot function properly if you have bad mental health. Even if a person is sad or is feeling low, he might have performance problems. Studies have shown that people with better mental health and a happier state of mind2 are more productive and contribute more than people with bad mental health or who are suffering from mental disorders.3

Thought disorder
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People need to know that it is okay to have mental disorders or mental health problems. A lot of us are suffering from one mental disorder or the other. But what is not okay is to ignore your mental health. If you think you might have some mental disorders, then immediate action must be taken to get better as soon as possible. There are plenty of resources out there to help you deal with your bad mental health.4

Thought disorders are related to the mind and are treated as cognitive disorders. In simpler words, people with these disorders have trouble organizing their thoughts and being able to communicate them verbally or in written forms. It is a sort of disorganized thinking that leads to problems in how a person uses language or communicates.

Thought disorders have become pretty common in these times. They might be one of the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder. 5They thus can lead to communication disorders.

Thought disorders mainly affect language. Patients tend to use rapid speech, and they also use inappropriate words in their sentences. Such conditions have become very common in young adults who struggle to speak. Their normal speech is hindered, and it becomes difficult to understand them.

There are various thought disorders and some visibly recognizable symptoms. In this fast-growing and ever-so-demanding world, people continue suffering silently and sometimes ignore their mental health. But thought disorders should not be overlooked and must be taken care of before it’s too late.

Various psychiatrists and psychologists are treating such disorders; one can always seek their help. One good thing is that thought disorders treated properly are completely curable.

What is Formal Thought Disorder?

Thought disorder
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Formal thought disorder is the term used in place of thought disorders. FTD is a disorganized way of thinking that, in turn, leads to miscommunication or disruptions in speech. It can lead to severe mental disorders like depression, anxiety, delusions, etc.

Formal thought disorder affects the language and thought process of the person suffering from it. The symptoms of formal thought disorder can be categorized into two parts: –

1. Positive Symptoms: –

These symptoms include pressure of speech, incoherence, irrationality, etc.

2. Negative Symptoms: –

These negative symptoms of formal thought disorder include poverty of speech and content.

Types of Thought Disorders: –

1. Alogia: –

Alogia is also known as the poverty of speech. It is classified under the negative symptom of thought disorders.6

2. Blocking or Thought Blocking: –

This type of thought disorder causes breakage or blockage in the thinking process. Blocking is very common in people suffering from schizophrenia.

Due to blockage of thought, people have trouble communicating, and they pause for several seconds while speaking. Blocking causes people to deflect from the initial topic of conversation.

3. Circumstantial Thinking: –

Circumstantial thinking is also known as circumstantial speaking. People with this disorder often include unnecessary detail while speaking or writing.

They provide the listener with much information that is not required before reaching the final answer to the question. For example, if a person with a detailed thinking disorder is asked if he completed the assignment, he might answer, “I had to go shopping, and then I had to take my dog for a walk; that is why I could not complete the work.”

Various causes of this type of thinking include schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder. According to psychologists, one might develop a precise way of thinking if they suffer from Obsessive-compulsive disorder, Attention-deficit disorder, Autism, Epilepsy, Complex partial seizures, Traumatic brain injury, Anxiety disorders, Psychosis, etc.

Thought disorders of this type are curable by the use of various means. The most common type of diagnosis for this disorder is the Rorschach test7; in this test, the patient looks at ten inkblots and describes what he is seeing.

Based on these descriptions, the doctors analyze the patient’s thought process and prescribe the necessary treatment or medicine.

Psychiatric medicines are the next ones on the list of treatment options. Doctors prescribe the medicine after examining the patient. Properly using the given medicines with some lifestyle changes can help cure circumstantial thinking disorder.

Psychotherapy is very helpful in dealing with this disorder. Changes in lifestyle like exercising, staying away from drugs, following a proper schedule, taking a healthy diet, and staying positive also helps in dealing with circumstantial thinking.

4. Clanging: –

This disorder is most commonly found in people with bipolar disorder or schizoaffective disorder. In this form of thinking disorder, the connections in the ideas lie in the rhyming sounds rather than a properly visible or understandable meaning.

5. Derailment: –

People suffering from derailment tend to shift from one idea to the second idea that may not be usefully related. For example, someone with derailment might say, “I am so sad that I could not complete my assignment, but I had a burger yesterday morning.”

Like any other type of formal thought disorder, this disorder is also curable with the help of psychotherapy, medicines, or other psychological examinations.

6. Echolalia: –

Echolalia is often found in people suffering from Autism and Tourette’s Syndrome8. In this disordered thinking, the patient tends to repeat whatever is being said to him. This is why the listener might have difficulty making sense of the conversation.

For example, a person with echolalia might repeat the question being asked to him. A child with echolalia, when asked, “Did you complete your homework?” might repeat the question and say, “Did you complete your homework?”.

Echolalia might be delayed, which occurs a little late after the stimulus and may also be immediately after the stimulus. Patients suffering from echolalia might not always be aware that they are repeating whatever is said to them; it can be their way of responding.

7. Illogical Thinking: –

In this form of thinking, the conclusion arrived at by the patient lacks logic or rationality. People suffering from illogical thinking might end up saying absurd and vague things that do not make sense to others, but the patient is unaware of that.

For instance, a person with this type of disorganized thinking, if asked a question, “Should I switch off the lights?” might answer, “Yes. It is very cold.”

Various psychiatrists treat thought disorders; patients with this type of thought disorder need not worry because it is curable with the proper administration of medicines and therapy.

8. Word Salad: –

Word salad is disorganized thinking in which the patient weirdly combines various unrelated words and phrases that do not makes sense to other listeners. Word salad is closely related to the schizophreniform disorder, but the good thing is that it is curable with the help of various available means.

Sometimes, the word salad might be used deliberately. It is mostly used by antisocial and narcissistic people when they want to gaslight a person or group. Some psychological reports have shown that this type of speaking is related to Alzheimer’s disease and strokes.

9. Neologisms: –

It is one of the forms of formal thought disorders in which the patient tends to create new words or use words whose origin is unknown.

Apart from being a thought disorder, neologisms are also used in pop culture, literature, jargon, films, and memes.

10. Perseveration: –

In this form of the disorder, the patient repeats the ideas and words. For example, a persevering person might say something like, “Yesterday yesterday I watched a movie.”

11. Paraphrastic Error: –

This type of thought disorder includes mispronunciation of various words and a slip of the tongue. Due to paraphrastic errors, the listener has trouble comprehending whatever the speaker says.

12. Stilted Speech: –

It is a form of disorganized thinking in which the patient uses vague or old words. People with schizophreniform disorder are the ones that are seen with this type of thought disorder called stilted speech. It occurs when people are not able to make a clear-cut distinction or are not able to recognize the relationship between language and context.

13. Pressure of Speech: –

The pressure of speech is seen when a person talks faster than usual. It is difficult for the listeners to comprehend what the speaker is speaking or trying to convey.

Now the question of what a thought disorder is answered. We must also know the causes or the elements that affect our way of thinking, eventually resulting in disorganized speech and script.

Knowing the causes of thought disorders will help us identify the thought disorder symptoms easily. It should be noted that untreated thought disorders might lead to mood disorders and psychotic disorders.

The exact causes of thought disorders are not known properly, but a lot of factors contribute to causing thought disorders. These factors include genetics, environmental factors, mental disorders, and other mental complications.

Apart from this factor, schizophreniform disorder is the major factor that is seen as causing thought disorders. It can be said that thought disorders are schizophrenia are inter-twined, and they affect each other.

Symptoms of Thought Disorder: –

Recognizing the symptoms of thought disorders is not very difficult; most of the time, they are readily visible, but sometimes, a proper diagnosis might be required. The key symptoms of thought disorders must be clear after reading the types of thought disorders. Various assessment tools can sometimes recognize the signs of thought disorders.

The main point is that any vigilant and smart person can recognize a person suffering from thought disorders. Thought disorders affect an individual’s thought process causing various problems recognized as the symptoms of thought disorders. Some of them are mentioned below: –

  1. An inability to stay on topic
  2. Speaking unusually fast
  3. Incoherent speech
  4. Repetition of words or phrases unnecessarily
  5. Use of irrational speech
  6. Providing information that is not required
  7. Coming up with vague excuses and explanations
  8. Inability to collect thoughts
  9. Inability to present thoughts in a proper and organized manner
  10. Use of distractible speech.
  11. Use of inappropriate words.

Apart from these symptoms, a suspected patient’s communication abilities, facial expression, thought disturbance, and individual speech are also considered, which is the assessment of thought disorder.

Methods and Tools to Identify Thought Disorders: –

1. Rorschach Inkblot Test: –

Thought disorder
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The Rorschach inkblot test was a psychological test invented by Hermann Rorschach in 1921. In this method, the doctors use ten inkblots to identify the thought disorders9 that might be present in the patients.

The patient has to identify the inkblots depending on the answers. It is appropriate for people aged from five years to adulthood.

This test’s main goal is to examine individuals’ mental capacity. It also examines their behavior, cognitive activities, and other psychotic disorders.

2. Thought Disorder Index: –

This tool for assessing thought disorders is used to classify and present instances of disordered thinking. This index makes interpreting an individual’s thoughts and behavioral patterns easy to understand for people who do not have special knowledge in the field of psychology and mental health conditions.

The thought disorder index is also called the delta index, one of the first measures developed to look into the problems and complexities of thought disorders.

This is one of the most widely and commonly used tests to recognize and diagnose thought disorders. It assesses patients in twenty-three fields and ranks them on a scale of one to ten. The thought disorder symptoms are very easily visible in this test.

3. Scale for the Assessment of Thought, Language, and Communication: –

It is again one of the most common and reliable forms of thought disorder assessments. It involves observing the patient and then providing ratings based on the collected information.

Treatment Options: –

1. Medication: –

Various types of medicines are available to cure this mental disorder. Antipsychotic medicines are mostly used by patients suffering from thought disorders. These medicines act on the hormones that regulate the emotions of a person. These hormones are dopamine and serotonin etc. The medication prescribed by the doctor’s helps regulate the levels of these hormones and helps the individual developmental skills, and the individual’s speech also improves. It is always better to take medicines prescribed by an authorized doctor rather than taking medicines based on self-research.

2. Psychotherapy: –

Thought disorder
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Therapy has always helped people in dealing with mental health problems. Psychiatric research has shown that talking about your feelings to someone makes you feel lighter and happier.

Similarly, psychotherapy helps reduce and manage the problems arising from thought disorders. Two types of psychotherapies are more commonly used. They are cognitive behavior therapy and cognitive enhancement therapy.

With the help of this mechanism, the psychologists or psychiatrists talk to the patient and let him open up about his life, including his past and present. The doctors then analyze the verbal responses given by patients.

Psychotherapy also proves helpful in treating psychotic disorders 10as it recognizes the psychotic symptoms very easily, but it might take time in a few cases.

Conclusion: –

The time of rethinking thought disorder has now come. One can no longer keep functioning and fulfilling others’ demands if he is not doing well mentally. In a fast and ever-growing world where everyone has a capitalistic mindset, if a person doesn’t take care of his mental health, it won’t be easy to function appropriately or do tasks before their deadline.

Various elements and factors cause schizophrenia and thought disorders and can be avoided. The use of drugs and having a bad lifestyle can cause thought disorders, but they can be avoided. Apart from these, many other medical conditions also affect a person’s language, verbal ability, and communication skills.

Schizophrenic patients are more prone to developing thought disorders than the general population. The patients are higher, and they might develop other disorders. Both negative thought disorders and positive thought disorders can be treated and cured.

If you see a close one suffering from thought disorders, you must consult a psychologist or a psychiatrist because the sooner, the better. Apart from professional clinical help, various online platforms offer support to patients.

Various news bulletins and mental health magazines also discuss thought disorders and schizophrenia. In taking care of a thought disorder patient, a person’s education also plays an important role. It is better and smart to start taking care of your mental health and your close ones.

There are plenty of resources and people to help you get through it. One very important thing to know while dealing with bad mental health is that it is okay to ask for help when you feel like everything is too much to take and handle.

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  2. Robinson, Michael D., and Rebecca J. Compton. “The Happy Mind in Action.” The Cognitive Basis of Subjective Well-Being. S (2008): 220-238. ↩︎
  3. Eaton, William W., et al. “The burden of mental disorders.” Epidemiologic reviews 30.1 (2008): 1-14. ↩︎
  4. Aldwin, Carolyn M., and Tracey A. Revenson. “Does coping help? A reexamination of the relation between coping and mental health.” Journal of personality and social psychology 53.2 (1987): 337. ↩︎
  5. Smith, Thomas E., et al. “Insight, symptoms, and neurocognition in schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.” Schizophrenia bulletin 26.1 (2000): 193-200. ↩︎
  6. Nuechterlein, Keith H., et al. “Attentional vulnerability indicators, thought disorder, and negative symptoms.” Schizophrenia bulletin 12.3 (1986): 408-426. ↩︎
  7. Meyer, Gregory J. “Assessing reliability: Critical corrections for a critical examination of the Rorschach Comprehensive System.” Psychological Assessment 9.4 (1997): 480. ↩︎
  8. Leckman, James F. “Tourette’s syndrome.” The Lancet 360.9345 (2002): 1577-1586. ↩︎
  9. Roche, Eric, et al. “The epidemiology and associated phenomenology of formal thought disorder: a systematic review.” Schizophrenia bulletin 41.4 (2015): 951-962. ↩︎
  10. Pijnenborg, Gerdina HM, et al. “Changes in insight during treatment for psychotic disorders: a meta-analysis.” Schizophrenia Research 144.1-3 (2013): 109-117. ↩︎

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