Treatment of thought disorder

What are Thought Disorders | Banyan Mental Health

What are thought disorders?What is a thinking disorder? Are they the same thing? Are people with thought disorders crazy? Can you even treat thought disorders?

Like many other mental illnesses, the general public knows little about thought disorders. In turn, this misunderstanding can cause exaggerations, misconceptions, and lies to become widespread. Our Florida dual diagnosis treatment center is here to clear up the confusion about what thought disorders are and what treatment options are available.

What Are Thought Disorders?

Thought disorders are often referred to as thinking disorders. They occur when patterns of thinking or perception are altered or distorted, and the result is often disorganized or unclear speech. This disconnect causes the individual to perceive reality incorrectly.

Schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and schizophreniform disorder are all mental health disorders that can be related to thought disorders and can cause individuals to fall out of touch with reality. When a person’s perception of reality is compromised, professional treatment is necessary to help the individual.

What Are Thought Disorder Symptoms?

Because there are many different types of thought disorders, there are also varying symptoms that a person can experience. Some of the most common thought disorder symptoms can include:

  • Alogia – lack of speech
  • Detachment from social situations
  • Blocking – abrupt stops in trains of thought
  • Derailment – disjointed trains of thought
  • Word salad – speech that makes no sense at all
  • Preservation - repetition of ideas or words
  • Pressure of speech- rapid speech with no pauses
  • Hallucinations – auditory, tactile, or visual
  • Delusions
  • Distress
  • Unusual energy levels
  • Poor judgment
  • Rocking movements or frequent twitches
  • Mental health problems like depression
  • Substance abuse

When a person is experiencing difficulty communicating or perceiving their reality properly, they are likely struggling with a formal thought disorder. At Banyan Mental Health, we can diagnose and treat thought disorders of varying types and severities. Some thinking disorders are only mildly disruptive, while others require considerable attention for treatment. We offer a mental health PHP in Pompano to help people struggling with various mental health disorders including thought disorders.

How Are Thought Disorders Treated?

Although patients can have some scary symptoms, thought disorders can be treated. Medications, therapy, and other therapeutic approaches may help. At Banyan Mental Health, our residential mental health program in Boca can aid in the treatment of thought disorders.

We employ a multitude of approaches in the treatment of thought disorders. Techniques for treating thought disorders include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Reality Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Solution Focused Therapy

For some individuals, medication can also be greatly beneficial. Our licensed therapists combine the best fit of therapeutic approaches for each individual to aid in our thought disorder treatment programs in Boca. Often, thought disorders intertwine with other issues, such as mood disorders or substance abuse. When two disorders occur simultaneously it’s known as a dual diagnosis, aka co-occurring disorder. We offer treatment for these and many other challenges as well.

Thinking disorders are often challenging to overcome, but our licensed therapists offer approaches to help address and overcome these challenges.

Contact our treatment specialists today to learn more about the benefits of our mental health programs. We address thought disorders, co-occurring disorders, mood disorders, substance abuse, and more. Call us today at 888-280-4763 so that we can help.

Thought Disorder Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Thought disorder is a disorganized way of thinking that leads to abnormal ways of expressing language when speaking and writing. It’s one of the primary symptoms of schizophrenia, but it may be present in other mental disorders such as mania and depression.

Thought disorder is one of the most difficult mental disorders to diagnose and treat, as many people exhibit symptoms of thought disorder occasionally. Some people may demonstrate thought disorder only when they’re tired.

There are more than 20 subtypes of thought disorder. In this article, we’ll break down the symptoms of some of the most common types. We’ll also examine potential treatment options to help you or someone you know manage this disorder.

Thought disorder first appeared in scientific literature in the 1980s, when it was first described as a symptom of schizophrenia. Its loose definition is any disturbance in the organization and processing of ideas.

Each type of thought disorder has unique symptoms. However, a disruption in the interconnectivity of ideas is present in all types.

Even though it’s common for most people to display some of the symptoms of thought disorder occasionally, thought disorder isn’t classified until it negatively affects the ability to communicate.

These are some of the most common types of thought disorder:


People with alogia, also known as poverty of speech, give brief and unelaborated responses to questions. People with this form of thought disorder rarely speak unless prompted. Alogia is often seen in people with dementia or schizophrenia.


People with thought blocking often interrupt themselves abruptly mid-sentence. They might pause for several seconds or minutes. When they start talking again, they often change the topic of conversation. Thought blocking is common in people with schizophrenia.


People with circumstantiality, also known as circumstantial thinking, or circumstantial speech, often include excessive irrelevant details in their speaking or writing. They maintain their original train of thought but provide a lot of unnecessary details before circling back to their main point.

Clanging or clang association

A person with clanging thought process makes word choices based on the sound of the word rather than the meaning of the word. They may rely on using rhymes, alliterations, or puns and create sentences that don’t make sense. Clanging thought process is a common symptom of mania.


A person with derailment talks in chains of only semi-related ideas. Their ideas often fall further and further from the topic of conversation. For example, a person with derailment thought disorder might jump from talking about rabbits to the hair on their head to your sweater.

Distractible speech

A person with distractible speech thought disorder has trouble maintaining a topic. They shift quickly between topics and get distracted by internal and external stimuli. It’s commonly seen in people with mania.

For example, somebody exhibiting distractible speech might abruptly ask where you got your hat mid-sentence while telling you about a recent vacation.


People with echolalia struggle to communicate. They often repeat noises and words they hear instead of expressing their thoughts. For example, instead of answering a question, they may repeat the question.

Other types of thought disorder

The Johns Hopkins Psychiatry Guide lists 20 types of thought disorder. These include:

  • Paraphasic error: constant word mispronunciation or slips of the tongue
  • Stilted speech: using unusual language that’s overly formal or outdated
  • Perseveration: leads to a repetition of ideas and words
  • Loss of goal: trouble maintaining a topic and an inability to come to a point
  • Neologism: creating new words
  • Incoherence: speaking in seemingly random collections of words, known as “word salad”

The cause of thought disorder isn’t well known. Thought disorder isn’t a symptom of any particular disorder, but it’s commonly seen in people with schizophrenia and other mental health conditions.

The cause of schizophrenia also isn’t known, but it’s thought that biological, genetic, and environmental factors can all contribute.

Thought disorder is loosely defined and the symptoms vary widely, so it’s difficult to find a single underlying cause. Researchers are still debating about what might lead to the symptoms of thought disorder.

Some believe it might be caused by changes in language-related parts of the brain, while others think it could be caused by problems in more general parts of the brain.

Thought disorder is one of the defining symptoms of schizophrenia and psychosis. People have a heightened risk of developing thought disorder if they also have:

  • mood disorders
  • bipolar disorder
  • depression
  • traumatic brain injury
  • anxiety

According to research from 2005, people with epilepsy have an increased risk of developing schizophrenia and psychosis compared to the general population.

A traumatic brain injury increases your risk of developing schizophrenia and other mental disorders, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders.

The following risk factors might also be risk factors for schizophrenia, and by extension, thought disorder:

  • stress
  • use of mind-altering drugs
  • inflammatory and autoimmune disease
  • exposure to toxic chemicals before birth

It’s not uncommon for people to demonstrate symptoms of thought disorder occasionally. However, if these symptoms are frequent or severe enough to cause problems communicating, it’s a good idea to speak with a doctor.

Thought disorder may be a symptom of a mental disorder. Many mental disorders such as schizophrenia are progressive and don’t improve without treatment. However, people with mental disorders are often unaware of their symptoms and need help from a family member or friend.

If you notice any other symptoms of schizophrenia in somebody you know, you may want to encourage them to see a doctor:

  • delusions
  • hallucinations
  • disorganized thinking or speech
  • neglecting personal hygiene
  • lack of emotion
  • lack of facial expression
  • withdrawing from social life

When diagnosing thought disorder, a medical professional will consider a person’s intelligence, culture, and education to see if they’re acting inconsistently.

Rorschach inkblot test

The Rorschach inkblot test was first invented by Hermann Rorschach in 1921. The test uses a series of 10 inkblots to identify a potential thought disorder.

The inkblots are ambiguous and the patient gives their interpretation of each. The administrating psychologist then interprets the patient’s responses to search for potentially disordered thinking.

Thought Disorder Index

After engaging a patient in an open-ended conversation, a medical professional will transcribe the conversation and score it using the thought disorder index.

The Thought Disorder Index, also called Delta Index, is the first standardized test to identify thought disorder. It measures 23 areas of potential thought disturbance and weighs the severity of each on a scale from zero to one.

Treatment for thought disorder targets the underlying medical condition. The two primary types of treatment are medication and psychotherapy.


Antipsychotic medication may be prescribed depending on the cause of thought disorder. These medications can balance out the brain chemical dopamine and serotonin.


Psychotherapy helps people replace their thoughts with more realistic ones and teach them ways to manage an illness.

Cognitive behavior therapy, a form of psychotherapy, and cognitive enhancement therapy may both be beneficial for people with schizophrenia.

If you suspect that a loved one has a thought disorder, encourage them to seek medical attention. Treatments that can effectively manage thought disorder symptoms are available, and a doctor can help determine the right treatment method based on the underlying condition.

Thought disorder is a disorganized way of thinking that leads to unusual speech and writing. People with thought disorder have trouble communicating with others and may have trouble recognizing that they have an issue.

If you suspect that somebody close to you has a thought disorder, it’s a good idea to encourage them to see a doctor as soon as possible.

Treatment of thinking disorders in Moscow

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Thinking disorders - causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Thinking disorders are a group of pathopsychological symptoms that combine violations of the process of mediated and generalized cognition of reality, the formation of judgments and conclusions. They are manifested by a disorder in the dynamics of the thought process - an acceleration or slowdown of associations, as well as a distortion of its purposefulness - fragmentation, incoherence, diversity of thoughts, thoroughness and reasoning. Productive symptoms include obsessive thoughts, delusions, overvalued ideas. Specific diagnosis is performed using pathopsychological tests. Treatment is determined by the underlying disease, includes pharmacotherapy and psychocorrection, counseling.

General information

Thinking is a cognitive mental process that implements an indirect way of reflecting reality, forming a thought. Includes operations of analysis, synthesis, comparison, classification, generalization, concretization and abstraction. It is impossible to determine the general etiology of mental disorders due to the fact that they are represented by a very heterogeneous group of symptoms, differ in severity, content, influence on the emotional sphere and behavior. The predominant number of patients with thinking pathology have a psychiatric and/or neurological diagnosis. For people with organic lesions of the central nervous system, quantitative changes are characteristic - a decrease in generalizations, difficulties in abstracting. In patients with endogenous psychoses, distortions in the form of reasoning, discontinuity are often determined.

Disorders of thinking


Relatively persistent and deep disorders of mental and intellectual processes are based on biological factors - changes in the neurohumoral balance, vascular, traumatic and intoxication lesions of the brain substrate. The basis for reversible mild and moderate disorders may be the features of personal response to stressful and psycho-traumatic effects. The most common reasons include:

  • Biochemical changes in the brain. Pathologies of blood circulation, intoxication, dysmetabolic diseases affect the functioning of the nervous system. The supply of oxygen, hormones and mediators, the speed and direction of neurotransmission are disturbed.
  • Traumatic brain injury. Thinking changes due to structural damage and functional shifts in the brain. Disorders are formed in the acute and remote period of TBI.
  • Psychoses. Psychotic states of organic, infectious and intoxicant origin are often accompanied by delirium, incoherence of mental functions. Schizophrenia is characterized by reasoning, diversity.
  • Degenerative diseases of the central nervous system. Thinking is impaired in dementia, atrophy, senile dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Pick's disease. Often a decrease in the level of generalization, the complexity of abstraction is determined.
  • Epilepsy. The severity and nature of the disorder depend on the severity of the disease. In most patients with epilepsy, thinking becomes inert, detailed.
  • CNS inflammation. Most often, the place of localization of the inflammatory process is the meninges. The production and outflow of cerebrospinal fluid is disturbed, intracranial pressure increases. With encephalitis, the medulla is directly affected.
  • brain tumors. Neoplasm increases in size, irritates the nerve centers, provokes atrophy of cells and fibers, ischemia. The severity of the pathology of thinking is determined by the localization of the brain tumor and the stage of the disease.
  • Stress, neuroses. Severe overstrain, emotional shock, depression, anxiety change the direction and speed of thinking. It becomes slow, focused on inner experiences.


There are several psychophysiological theories of the organization of thinking. Domestic science recognized Pavlov's model. According to her, thought is the result of a reflex connection between a person and reality. For its formation and consolidation, the coordinated work of several brain systems is necessary. The first is formed by the subcortical region, activated by unconditioned stimuli. The second - the hemispheres of the brain without the frontal regions and speech zones. It begins to function when a conditional connection is connected to unconditional reactions. The third system includes the frontal lobes and speech analyzers. The combination of these structures provides a distraction from specifically perceived information, generalization of signals from the underlying parts of the brain. Violations of the functioning of any of the systems lead to thinking disorders. Changes in dynamics are often associated with the activity of subcortical systems, in particular the reticular formation. The motivational-volitional component breaks up when the frontal lobes are affected.


Thinking disorders are diverse, not limited to a single pattern. Individual parameters of disorders are subjected to systematization, around which the syndromes occurring in psychiatric patients are grouped. As a rule, more or less complex combinations of several types of changes in thinking are determined in one patient. According to the general classification, there are three types of disorders:

  • Violations of the dynamic component. Normally, the formation of associations occurs at a uniform and moderate pace. In pathologies, the dynamics of this process changes. Distinguish between acceleration and deceleration of thinking, mentism - acceleration of the formation of associations, which occurs paroxysmal, sperrung - a sudden complete stop of the associative process.
  • Violations of the operational component. The main mental operations are generalization, abstraction, synthesis and analysis. With mental disorders, a decrease (inability to use categories) and distortion of generalization levels (highlighting latent, secondary connections, and not essential ones) are revealed.
  • Violations of the motivational-personal component. This group includes disorders based on a decrease in self-regulation, goal-setting, focus, the ability to adequately assess the situation, to conduct a dialogue. Included are violations of critical thinking associated with the impossibility of correctly comprehending the situation, diversity, reasoning, self-regulation disorders - vagueness and fragmentation of judgments, thoroughness, incoherence, paralogicality.

Symptoms of thinking disorders

Acceleration of thinking is characteristic of the state of mania and hypomania, manifested by a fast pace of speech, jumps of ideas, most of which remain unexpressed. Purposefulness and depth of reasoning are violated - patients speak quickly and a lot, do not have time to comprehend their own speech. With slow thinking, characteristic of depression and asthenia, the number of associations per unit of time decreases. The rate of speech decreases, patients experience difficulties in choosing words, forming sentences. Mentism is found in schizophrenia. It has the character of a violent symptom, occurs as an attack of an influx of diverse thoughts that are not formalized into words. When sperring, patients feel a sudden "emptiness" in the head, the absence of any thoughts and ideas.

Decrease in generalization correlates with general intellectual development. At a zero level, patients cannot distinguish individual features and properties of objects. They perceive them as a whole, unable to analyze: determine the purpose, functional features, belonging to the class. Patients with a specific level of generalization combine objects according to external and situational features. Their thinking is tied to visual images, it is difficult to operate with concepts. For example, they combine a shovel and a dog - they are "outside", scissors and pieces of furniture - they are "in the house". The selection of the “tools” category is not available to them. At the functional level of generalization, patients are able to determine the characteristics of objects that are not displayed visually (actions, manipulations). This is a simple level of abstraction. Example: a car and a tractor are combined, since both "drive", but are not called the general concept of "transport".

When the smoothness and coherence of thinking changes, amorphous judgments are observed. It is manifested by the presence of a logical connection between parts of a sentence and individual sentences, but by the loss of the general meaning of the narrative. In a conversation, it seems that the patients "float", find it difficult to express the key idea. When reasoning, patients talk for a long time and fruitlessly about the topic of conversation, do not draw conclusions and do not answer the questions posed. Thematic slips - a sudden change in topic, the lack of a logical relationship between the previous and next sentence. With such a symptom, paralogical thinking is possible - a distorted logic that is understandable only to the patient.

Thoroughness is characterized by excessive "stuck" on details, viscosity and stiffness of associations. Patients delve into their own reasoning, fixed on insignificant details. Incoherent thinking is the absence of connections between words in a sentence, and vergiberations are a violation of the connection between syllables. Both disorders are characteristic of severe forms of schizophrenia. Perseverations and speech stereotypes are repetitions of individual words, phrases and sentences. Observed in organic diseases, severe endogenous pathologies.

According to the content, thinking is divided into affective, egocentric, paranoid, obsessive and overvalued. People with an affective form of thinking are dominated by emotionally colored ideas, fast and involuntary variability of the process under the influence of external stimuli (significant and insignificant). With egocentric thinking, patients are fixed on the ideality of their own personality, the need and uselessness, the usefulness and harm of everything that happens.

Paranoid thinking is represented by delusional ideas. Delusion is an erroneous conclusion that is formed on a pathological basis - altered logic or affective experiences. Delusions of attitude, persecution, grandeur, jealousy, guilt, hypochondriacal and erotic delusions are common. In children, the paranoid form of thought processes is represented by delusional fantasies and pathological fears (unreal worlds, bizarre creatures, fear of the corner of the room). Overvalued thinking is focused on the leading personal tendencies, changes the direction of the patient's life - the idea of ​​organizing a revolution, the invention of a perpetual motion machine. With obsessive thinking, stereotypically repetitive thoughts, memories, fears, rituals arise. They are involuntary and conscious.


In severe mental disorders, patients lose the ability to correctly assess the surrounding situation, adequately respond to ongoing events, organize and control behavior. Productive domestic and professional activities become impossible, social maladaptation sets in. Patients need constant supervision and care from outside. The depressive orientation of thinking, as well as pronounced forms of delirium, can lead to the formation of suicidal behavior, causing harm to others.


In case of mental disorders, a comprehensive examination is carried out, including an anamnesis by a psychiatrist, psychological testing, examination by a neurologist. Additionally, instrumental procedures can be prescribed - EEG, MRI of the brain, ultrasound of the vessels of the brain. The psychiatrist receives the primary information about the symptoms by the clinical method. During the conversation and observation, he evaluates the adequacy of the patient's reactions, the ability to maintain productive contact, focus, harmony of speech. Specific methods for studying thinking include:

  • Classification. The test is aimed at determining the ability to think in categories, reveals the lack of generalization. Depending on which groups of objects the patient forms, the zero, specific, functional or categorical level, the presence of distortions, is determined.
  • Exception. The verbal and subject version of the methodology is used. The result allows you to detect the ability to generalize, the tendency to update latent and secondary features (distortion).
  • Creating analogies. The Simple Analogies and Complex Analogies test is applied. The ability to build a sequence of judgments, establish logical connections and relationships between concepts is assessed. The results may indicate a tendency to reasoning, inertia.
  • Comparison and exclusion of concepts. To complete the task, the patient needs to analyze the signs of objects and phenomena, differentiate the main signs from the secondary ones, and highlight the categories. According to the results, the complexity of generalization, thoroughness, reasoning is determined.
  • Interpretation of metaphors and proverbs. The subject is asked to explain the figurative meaning of the phrases. The technique is aimed at diagnosing the ability to abstract, the tendency to paralogy, resonant statements.
  • Pictograms. The images drawn by the patient to memorize words are being examined. Their emotional coloring, abstractness and concreteness, detailing, schematic, logic and adequacy of connection with the stimulus are noted.
  • Associations. A 50-word naming test is used, paired associations. The result indicates the pace of mental activity, thoroughness, inertia, perseveration.

Treatment of thinking disorders

Therapy of people with thinking disorders is determined by the nature of the underlying disease. Therapeutic measures are carried out by a psychiatrist and a neurologist, correctional and rehabilitation work - by a clinical psychologist, social worker. With an integrated approach, patient care is provided by the following methods:

  • Pharmacotherapy. The treatment regimen is compiled individually, the choice of drugs is determined by the leading disease. With psychotic symptoms, including delirium, psychomotor agitation, antipsychotics are prescribed. In cases of cerebrovascular accidents, consequences of injuries and intoxications, nootropics and vascular preparations are used. People with epilepsy are shown anticonvulsants.
  • Psychocorrection. Classes with a psychologist are focused on restoring lost thinking functions. Cognitive trainings are used, exercises that require analysis of situations, comparison of objects, establishment of logical sequences. Corrective work is carried out in courses, individually or in a group.
  • Family counseling. Several interviews are conducted with close relatives of the patient. A psychologist or doctor talks about the mechanisms of the origin of the disease, the features of the course. Gives recommendations on the organization of rest and work of the patient, including him in homework, returning to professional activities.

Prognosis and prevention

The effectiveness of treatment of thinking disorders, the prognosis of recovery depend on the nature of the course of the underlying disease. A favorable outcome is most likely in neurotic disorders, stress reactions. Prevention consists in the timely diagnosis of neurological and mental pathologies, the selection of adequate treatment and the fulfillment of all doctor's prescriptions.

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