As the name implies, this subtype’s predominant feature is disorganization of the thought processes. As a rule, hallucinations and delusions are less pronounced, although there may be some evidence of these symptoms. These people may have significant impairments in their ability to maintain the activities of daily living. Even the more routine tasks, such as dressing, bathing or brushing teeth, can be significantly impaired or lost.
Often, there is impairment in the emotional processes of the individual. For example, these people may appear emotionally unstable, or their emotions may not seem appropriate to the context of the situation. They may fail to show ordinary emotional responses in situations that evoke such responses in healthy people. Mental health professionals refer to this particular symptom as blunted or flat affect. Additionally, these people may have an inappropriately jocular or giddy appearance, as in the case of a patient who chuckles inappropriately through a funeral service or other solemn occasion.
People diagnosed with this subtype also may have significant impairment in their ability to communicate effectively. At times, their speech can become virtually incomprehensible, due to disorganized thinking. In such cases, speech is characterized by problems with the utilization and ordering of words in conversational sentences, rather than with difficulties of enunciation or articulation. In the past, the term hebephrenic has been used to describe this subtype.
How Is It Diagnosed?