A disturbance in one’s ability to generate a logical sequence of ideas, as indicated by disordered speech and/or writing.
There are different types of thought disorders. A flight of ideas refers to language that may be difficult to understand when it switches quickly from one unrelated idea to other. Circumstantiality refers to language that may be difficult to understand when it is long-winded and convoluted in reaching its goal. Word salad refers to words that are inappropriately strung together resulting in gibberish.
A thought disorder may be a symptom of many different mental disorders, but is most commonly associated with schizophrenia or some related psychotic disorder. A person with a thought disorder is usually someone who is suffering from something that is need of professional mental health help sooner rather than later.
Example: The patient speaks with fluency, but his sentences are a “word salad” of incoherent rambling and made-up words.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Mar 2011