Verbigeration is obsessive repetition of random words. It is similar to preservation, in which a person repeats words in response to a stimulus. However, verbigeration occurs when a person repeats words without a stimulus.

What Causes Verbigeration?
The most common medical cause of verbigeration is schizophrenia. Verbigeration may occur in people with schizophrenia as part of a cluster of speech and thought disorders. These may include other behaviors such as tangentiality— the inability to focus on conversation–and echolalia–automatic, unconscious repetition of another person’s speech or vocalizations. Verbigeration indicates a disorganized, tangential thought pattern and can strongly interfere with both communication and thought.

Rarely verbigeration may indicate a brain injury, drug overdose, or poisoning when parts of the brain related to speech and thought are affected. Developmental disorders such as autism may also result in verbigeration. Obsessive compulsive disorder, which causes obsessive repetition of compulsive actions, may very rarely cause verbigeration.

Examples of Verbigeration
Verbigeration does not require a stimulus to occur. For example, a person with schizophrenia may repeatedly say a nonsense syllable or a cluster of nonsense syllables. He/she might also repeat a string of words that make no sense when combined together. For example, he/she might say, “dog cat ate car work.”

What is the Treatment for Verbigeration?
When verbigeration is caused by something other than schizophrenia, doctors will treat the underlying cause. Children experiencing developmental delays leading to verbigeration may benefit from occupational and speech therapy. People experiencing schizophrenia may also benefit from individual psychotherapy, coping skills training, group therapy, and family-based interventions. Psychiatrists often use antispychotic medication when treating schizophrenia.


  1. Colman, A. M. (2006). Oxford dictionary of psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  2. Kring, A. M., Johnson, S. L., Davison, G. C., & Neale, J. M. (2010). Abnormal psychology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Last Updated: 01-16-2018

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