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Variation in Thought Processes

by Dr Athira


variation in thought
Variation in thought process is a clear sign of a mental dysfunction. The defects in mental thoughts can be very much analyzed by understanding the following key factors of a patients thought process.

They are

  1. Coherence,
  2. Relevance,
  3. Logic and
  4. Organization.

These key factors are often seen reflected in a speech.
From the pattern of one’s speech we can detect one’s thought process.
There are eight strong indicators and 2 weak indicators for a deranged thought process which could be detected through the person’s speech.

Indications of variation in thought process

  1. First notable feature would be incoherence. Speech will be lacking in logic and meaningful connections. The person will be going for wrong usage of words according to the time, meaning and situation. The sentences that he makes will be lacking any sort of grammatical frame work. Shifts in meaning are another noticeable feature. E.g.: This is usually exhibited by psychotic patients
  2. You may see him repeating words and phrases. This is called as Echolalia. E.g.: this is exhibited by people suffering from schizophrenia and maniac episodes.\
  3. People who are having defective thought processes are often find exhibiting the character of neologisms. Neologism is nothing but introducing idiosyncratic words. The words they use could be totally new to everyone, distorted. The word could be a newly invented one which fails to make others understand what he is talking about. E.g.: this is exhibited by psychotic patients and aphasia
  4. You might have seen a person speaking with a steady accelerated way jumping from one topic to another. Though the basic theme of his conversation won’t be in any way sensible, but he would be linking his words or topics with understandable situations. He might be scrambling his speech with meaningful words. But together a set of such words and sentences fail to convey any idea. A defective thought process is revealed though a speech of accelerated flow and changing topics abruptly is often called as Flight of Ideas. E.g.: exhibited by maniac patients
  5. If a person forgets some part of an incidence and he fabricates events in response to any questions or simply to fill the gap is termed as Confabulation. E.g.: it’s usually seen associated with amnesia.
  6. When repetition of phrases and words are termed as echolalia, persistent repetition of words or ideas is termed as Perseveration. E.g.: schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.
  7. Clanging is the indicator which is characterized by words chosen for its rhythm and sound rather than its meaning. E.g.: schizophrenia and maniac disorders.
  8. When a person’s speech consists of jumping from one subject to another and the subjects are not meaningfully connected in any way, then that kind of a speech is an indicator for Derailment. Derailment is otherwise called as loosening of Associations.E.g.: schizophrenia and other psychiatric conditions

The weak indicators in a speech that points to a person’s abnormalities in thought processes are

  1. One among the features of mental dysfunction is Circumstantiality. But this particular feature is exhibited even by many people without mental disorders. Due to the same reason Circumstantiality is considered as a weak indicator of disoriented thought processes. Circumstantiality is characterized by speech that’s studded with unnecessary details and fails to highlight the main idea. The speech will be delivered with meaningful connections but the main problem is that it is disoriented in direction. E.g.: mostly seen in obsessive compulsive disorder patients
  2. Another feature of variation in thought process but comes under the weak indicator of disoriented thought processes is Blocking. When a person loses his thought over an idea or an incidence he interrupts the speech at the point he loses his thought. He may leave it in mind sentence or before the completion of an idea. E.g.: mostly seen associated with schizophrenia

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