In our daily life, we take a lot of decisions based on our ideas, and opinions on a certain topic or any specific situation. These decisions or ideas and opinions can be called our thoughts. Thought plays a major role in our daily life cognitive functioning. Every decision may be voluntary or involuntary, is controlled by thoughts. If we are not able to process thoughts properly, it can interrupt our normal daily life functioning.
Thought disorders are known as disturbances in the organization and expression of thoughts. Due to this disorganized thinking is seen, and in turn, the individuals express their thoughts in unexpected or unusual ways while talking or writing them down (MSEd, 2022a).
For the process of thinking to occur in an appropriate way it is necessary that there is a presence of the ability to think on a particular topic and organize that mentally and be able to express them in a way that one is able to understand them (MSEd, 2022a).
Thought disorder may be indicated by some symptoms based on their frequency, duration, severity, and the observed impairment caused by them The symptoms are:
- Inability to stick to a topic
- Lack of speech
- Pressurized speech, and fast pace of speaking
- Illogical speaking
- Wandering of thoughts
Some other symptoms like delusions, poor judgment, hallucinations, irritability, changes in movement, unable to express, paranoia, lack of emotion, etc. (MSEd, 2022a).
Types of thought disorders:
There are several sets of symptoms that interrupt the thought process due to which there is disruption of the organization and expression of the thoughts. These types can be seen as follows:
- Alogia: Is characterized by poor speech. It is mostly seen in individuals who have dementia or schizophrenia. The nature of responses are incomplete and abrupt.
- Blocking: It is the stopping in the middle of the sentence and after resuming start a new topic which is not linked to the previous at all.
- Circumstantial thinking: It consists of adding unnecessary information related to the topic or indirect to the main topic of conversation.
- Echolalia: It is the repetition of the speech like words or sounds heard from the speaker.
- Clanging: It consists of application of words on the basis of sounds made by them instead of the meaning of the word. Examples can be use of rhyming words or puns.
- Tangentiality: Includes movement of ideas from one to other. These ideas have a superficial connection, and the conversation never gets to the main point.
- Neologism: It is a sudden new coining of words. The words do not have any recognition or meaninglessness, but are added to a conversation.
- Word Salad: It is a mixture of certain arbitrary words or phrases which are incomprehensible (MSEd, 2022a).
Thought disorders and early stage of psychosis:
Thought disorder or Formal thought disorder (FTD) intertwines with many severe illnesses and deficit functioning in psychotic patients. We carried out the research to determine stable and generalizable subgroups of formal thought disorders with recent onset of psychosis in individuals. Oeztuerk et al. (2021) tested the validity of the subgroups by associating them with stratification, social functioning, neurocognition, and occupational functioning related to FTD.
The test was conducted with the help of 297 individuals who had a recent onset of psychosis. The result of the study suggested that the early psychosis pathway may have a relevant marker of severity due to FTD (Oeztuerk et al., 2021).
Comparison of thought disorder in borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia:
In a study, researchers compared thought and perception disorders among patients with borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia, following the DSM-IV criteria. The study investigated the relationship of this comparison with social functioning. Researchers (Oliva et al., 2014) used DIB-R (Diagnostic Interview for Borderline Revised). And PSP (Social Performance Scale) to assess thought and perception disorders along with social functioning.
The study’s results (Oliva et al., 2014) observed that individuals with borderline personality disorder showed a reduction in frequent true psychotic thoughts. And high severity of non-delusional paranoia compared to schizophrenia. These observations were made in cases of less severe psychotic experiences accompanied by more quasi-psychotic thoughts.
Link with Autism:
There are some reasons which autistic individuals have disorganized thoughts. Three major reasons behind it are:
- Hyperconnectivity in specific areas of the brain.
- 19 identified pairs in the areas of brain having over-synchronization.
- Higher local connectivity with lower global connectivity combined.
These few factors help in explaining the reason for scatterbrain or quick loss of oversight or being prone to overstimulation also dysregulation (Autism & Disorganized Thoughts | Embrace Autism, n.d.).
ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), Schizophrenia, and Thought disorder:
A study compared thought disorders with cognitive variables associated with ADHD and schizophrenia. We considered participants from the age range of 8 to 15, among whom 115 had ADHD, 190 were normal children, and 88 had schizophrenia. We used the WISC-R, a Continuous Performance test with Span of Apprehension task, for administration. The results signified that in childhood thought disorders are not specific to schizophrenia. It gives a reflection of impaired development in communication skills is seen in children (Caplan et al., 2001).