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

  • Leave a Comment
  • 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.

  • kate

    September 13th, 2018 at 9:05 AM

    Oh gosh, Olga. The medications for schizophrenia are absolutely vital for survival. Please don’t spread misinformation. This young man should speak with a doctor and consider newer treatments before things get worse for him. Untreated schizophrenia can be deadly, and treatment has saved many lives and allowed people to move forward.

  • Patty

    August 25th, 2018 at 7:02 AM

    My adult son who is 34 communicates to himself all the time you would think there is someone he is talking to. He names the person that is talking example this is Dan you ruined your life, or Tom did she hurt herself. Sometimes he would get angry and start yelling and cursing. There Is times he will not talk to me because he is so involved with his thoughts and he would say he is busy. He had a lot of trauma and stress. He did some drugs he also hit his head in a accident. It all started when my son came home from another state 3yr ago where he had some bad situations and when he came home after visiting some friends for 4 days he came home psychotic He was to many Drs. and Hospitals the medication made him worse and that is what started him talking to self and movement disorder. I have not found any one who will take the time and work with him to work out with his stressful thoughts he would also wake up screaming at night. I am looking for any suggestions. Thank you

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team

    August 27th, 2018 at 8:30 AM

    Hi, Patty. If you would like to assist your son with finding a mental health professional, please feel free to return to our homepage, http://www.goodtherapy.org/, and enter your zip code into the search field to find therapists in your area. If you’re looking for a counselor that practices a specific type of therapy, or who deals with specific concerns, you can make an advanced search by clicking here: http://www.goodtherapy.org/advanced-search.html

    Once you enter your information, you’ll be directed to a list of therapists and counselors who meet your criteria. From this list you can click to view our members’ full profiles and contact the therapists themselves for more information. Alternatively, you are welcome to call us for assistance finding a therapist. We are in the office Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific Time; our phone number is 888-563-2112 ext. 1.

    If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, in danger of hurting yourself or others, feeling suicidal, overwhelmed, or in crisis, it’s very important that you get immediate help! Information about what to do in a crisis is available here: http://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html

  • Alex

    March 5th, 2020 at 9:24 PM

    life has been very difficult for me for quite some time now mentally. I’ve been totally insecure on how I look and who I am which has brought me to chronic depression. During my days in my head I say I hate myself and feel like anything I have to say has no worth. I know those are negative thoughts and tell myself otherwise but simply don’t believe it and move on with my overwhelming school schedule.I’ve lacked motivation to succeed in school and been stopped caring what my grades look like that used to matter to me. I’ve began to lack motivation to pursue the things I want in life with short and long term goals and the person I want to become. I’m 17 with no source of income other than my parents and no longer put time towards how I should but desperately put it to temporary highs and pleasures. I’ve realized I have been apathetic for the past couple of years with my depression but seem to act like any of that isn’t a part of me in society and my self image from fear of how I am. I’m no longer a social person and almost find it difficult to socialize except for the closest people to me. My brother would always make fun of me about how I tried to speak, being flustered with emotion and would call me autistic which led me to believe that they’re was something wrong with me. And now that time has passed I feel like I haven’t don’t anything with my life other than just barley pass through each day. I can’t help but think that I’m worthless and who would want to live a life that has no purpose and suicidal thoughts start to appear in my head but think how it would affect my loved ones. My mother past away when I was younger and never had a father and live with my grandma and her husband which has affected my childhood and adolescence and has left me confused.

  • Sam

    May 10th, 2020 at 8:55 PM

    I know how you feel. Things do get better, I promise

  • Bob

    May 25th, 2020 at 6:16 PM

    You can’t promise anything

  • Tess

    April 13th, 2021 at 5:12 AM

    I think my struggle with disorganized speech and thought patterns began almost a year after I was diagnosed with depression and social anxiety. As much it might prompt people to think that way, my social anxiety never came in the way of my speech and verbal articulation because even if I was scared out of my mind to communicate, I still did so in an orderly fashion. I had ways talked to nonentities before but after getting very strong treatment, my capability for coherent speech went down the drain and now my thoughts are all over the place and sometimes I talk so fast to the point where I’m choking on my saliva. I’m 19 btw and this has been happening for a while now. When I told my psychiatrist and therapist, they both said I had bipolar but I’ve never had a manic episode so they characterize my daily energy fluctuations as a symptom of adhd. I really don’t know who to trust with giving me the right diagnosis.

  • doug

    May 5th, 2021 at 6:30 AM

    As I poet, I am always disorganizing speech in order to rediscover language and revivify it. I admire and respect schizophrenic speech and have been amazed by it when listening. I’ve learned something about writing from it.

  • Lola

    September 1st, 2021 at 1:27 AM

    Doug, while that’s interesting, this symptom is of a disorder far from poetic grace. It destroys young lives. The more my ability to speak out out loud gets garbled, the less valuable I am to any work force, the disorganized speech I have doesn’t impress or give life to my speech, it inhibits my entire existence to the point that I consider daily fake that I’m suddenly mute. Conversations get so frustrating and people to dont think I notice if that just pretend to understand me. Grace only exists in certain pains, the pain of realizing at some point point they’re will be no one who can understand you will always be horrifying

  • Faerie

    October 1st, 2021 at 9:13 PM

    You were made by God, Gods love flows through your very being. When you are lost meditate, pray or simply talk to the God YOU believe in! Know that when you make a decision from your heart this is from the love of the god or goddess inside.

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