Thought disorders – part 1

Disorders of the form and the stream of thought

Racing thoughts:

The subjective experience of one’s thoughts occurring rapidly, each though being associated with a wider range of consequent ideas than normal and with inability to remain on one idea for any length of time (distracted and chaotic speech). Occurs in manic episodes, sometimes referred as pressure of thought

Inhibition of thought:

Slow thinking with poor associations, patient answers in one word and fails to understand complex sentences (Symptom of depression or clouding of consciousness)

Circumstantial thinking(stiffness):

A thought disorder where the irrelevant details and digressions overwhelm the direction of the verbal representation of the thought process. Eventually the goal of the thought is reached. It is characterised by over inclusion of details and remarks. It can be a symptom of mania, epileptic personality changes, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.


Vague thinking with excessive use of abstract concepts resulting in inability to have goal directed associations of thought; patient never reached the goal of the thought.


The most severe degree of schizophrenic thought disorder in which no connection of any kind is understandable between sequential words and phrases the patient uses (formal grammatically structured speech but void of sense). Sometimes called word salad.


Speech that usually is not understandable; severe disorganisation of thought that manifests with words which have no logical or grammatical connection(disconnected, disorganized, incomprehensible), often associated with disorder of consciousness. (eg., case of amentia)

Verbal stereotype:


Persistent repetition of specific words or concepts in the process of speaking. Seen in cognitive disorders, schizophrenia


Meaningless and stereotyped repetition of words or phrases or meaningless sound combinations often associated with «clang association» (association of words similar in sound but not in meaning; words have no logical con­nection, may include rhyming and punning), as seen in schizophrenia. Also called cataphasia.


Sudden appearance of unmanageable flow of thought, often with the feeling of distant influence (symptom of mental automatism)

Thought blocking, barrage

abrupt interruption in train of thinking before a thought or idea is finished; after a brief pause, the person indicates no recall of what was being said or was going to be said; the feeling of distant influence is usual (symptom of mental automatism, common in schizophrenia and severe anxiety)

Autistic thinking

Thinking in which the thoughts are largely narcissistic and egocentric, with emphasis on subjectivity rather than objectivity, and without regard for reality. An abnormal absorption with the self, distinguished by interpersonal communication difficulties, a short attention span and inability to relate to others as people. Seen in schizophrenia and autistic disorder.

Symbol thinking

Thinking basing on a great deal of symbols; providing coming things with the special meaning, understandable only for themselves (symptom of schizophrenic personality changes).

Paralogia (illogical thinking)

Thinking containing erroneous conclusions or internal contradictions; it is pathological only when it is marked and when it is not caused by cultural values or intellectual deficit. (symptom of schizophrenic personality changes)

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