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.

References:

  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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

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