Disorganized Speech

Disorganized speech is characterized by a collection of speech abnormalities that can make a person’s verbal communication difficult or impossible to comprehend. It is a symptom of schizophrenia.

What is Disorganized Speech?

Disorganized speech typically arises from abnormal thought processes. A person engaging in disorganized speech might quickly jump from one unrelated topic to another, engage in incoherent “word salad,” repeat things another person says back to them, or appear to be speaking with nonexistent entities. Speech can be so disorganized that it interferes with a person’s ability to communicate with others. Disorganized speech can sometimes include other abnormalities in speech such as:

  • Thought blocking – suddenly stopping speaking and forgetting the original topic
  • Neologisms – the invention and use of new words
  • Perseveration – repeating words or sentences
  • Pressured speech – very rapid speech, sometimes to the point of incoherence

What Causes Disorganized Speech?

Disorganized speech is a symptom of schizophrenia and is particularly common with disorganized schizophrenia. Disorganized schizophrenia is characterized by disorganization in speech and daily behaviors. People with disorganized schizophrenia often struggle to care for themselves and engage in daily living activities and routines. Schizophrenia in general can interfere with a person’s thought patterns, contribute to the belief in non-existent entities, cause hallucinations, and create strange or unusual behavior patterns; all of these factors can contribute to speech that appears disorganized to an observer but that might make sense to a person with schizophrenia.

Occasionally, anxiety and fear can contribute to temporary disorganization in speech. Hallucinations, psychosis, and some medications might also interfere with speech patterns. When disorganized speech persists in the absence of another medical cause, however, it is often a symptom of schizophrenia.


  1. Disorganized schizophrenic. (n.d.). Schizophrenic.com. Retrieved from http://www.schizophrenic.com/content/schizophrenia/diagnosis/disorganized-schizophrenia
  2. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010, December 10). Disorganized speech. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/disorganized-schizophrenia/DS00864/DSECTION=symptoms
  3. Schizophrenia symptoms. (n.d.). Schizophrenia Symptoms. Retrieved from Schizophrenia.com

Last Updated: 08-6-2015

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  • Sean


    July 25th, 2017 at 12:01 PM

    I feel like I have disorganized speech. I forget what I’m about to say a lot and if I’m talking to somebody about a topic. Sometimes i can’t get a clear understanding of what people talk about I usually blank out. I have no facial expressions either and I’ve been hearing voices in my head before I sleep and sometimes can’t think properly. And I often forget what I’m
    About to say. I’m only 18 and I’m experiencing this already . I really want to be myself and mature. But it feels like I’m not maturing at all and don’t know what to talk about when I’m with family or friends. Everytime
    I try to think about something to talk about something interrupts in my brain and then I forget right away.

  • Gwen


    July 25th, 2017 at 12:21 PM

    Hi Sean, I just happened to see your comment. It sounds like you might benefit from seeing a psychiatrist. You can look on your insurance company’s website to find a psychiatrist in your network. You can also see your general doctor and he or she can give you a referral to a psychiatrist. If you ever have thoughts of harming or killingyoutself please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Or you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255.

  • Olga


    May 2nd, 2018 at 12:08 PM

    Hi Sean, it’s good you can identify this problem, but my daughter is not understand what’s going on with her. I wish you get better and know what it is and my suggestion do not take a lot of medication, most of them just do thinks worth.

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