Brainstorming: associated symptoms, causes and treatment

In psychopathology we find a wide variety of thought and speech disorders, which primarily affect patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In this article we will know one of them, the flight of ideas, A disorder that affects the speed of thought and speech.

We can differentiate two levels: thought (ideas) and speech (language). In this disorder, ideas escape meaninglessly, first in the person’s mind and later in his speech, when they verbalize them.

    Leakage of ideas: characteristics

    The flight of ideas is a thought disorder, which affects the speed of the same and it is characterized by an increased flow of ideas that appear in the mind, This causes the person speaking it to speak faster than usual, constantly jumping from one idea to another. This jump from one idea to another usually happens before the end of the first thought or idea.

    Outraged, the maximum degree of tachypsychia is taken into account. Tachypsychia is the pathological acceleration of psychic activity. In contrast to this, the brain drain is more intense and aggressive.

    In the flight of ideas, the patient has no fixed direction when speaking; that is, thought springs up and jumps from one idea to another without direction or purpose. There are abrupt and illogical thematic changes.

    So, as we have seen, the brain drain consists of two main elements:

    • Mass increase of the speed of thought.
    • Systemic difficulty in reaching a conclusion.

    associated symptoms

    The peculiarities common to all brainstorming are those we will see below.

    1. Trouble and lack of purpose of intellectual processes

    It happens that even when the different ideas of the person have some kind of relation, the whole of cognition it has no meaning or meaning.

    2. Absurd associations unrelated to each other

    Unrelated associations predominate. Outraged, the thoughts generated can be very different from each other, Even if they continually appear in the person’s mind or speech.

    3. Easily distractions and deviation of subjects

    The subject with a brain drain is easily distracted and deviates from the subjects he is thinking about, influenced by (external) stimuli from the environment.

    like that, many of his ideas appear immediately upon viewing an image from the outside who observes the subject.

    4. Highly visible

    The escape of ideas is easily observed through the verbal expression of the patient. This massive barrage of ideas, which we discussed above, is immediately expressed and unleashes the elaboration of incongruous speeches.

    the causes

    The flight of ideas usually appears as a change in mood. Specifically, a pathologically euphoric state such as mania (in bipolar I disorder) or hypomania (in bipolar II disorder), is the main cause of the brain drain.

    like that, this alteration is typical of bipolar disorder commented out, but can also appear in isolation (though not as often). It occurs particularly in bipolar I disorder, where at least one episode of mania occurs or has occurred.

    In an episode of mania, the mood appears disturbed and there is an increase in goal-oriented activity, as well as an increase in energy, for 1 week (or less if hospitalization was required).

    Brainstorming can also appear in patients with schizophrenia. Andreasen included it in his classification of thought disorders in schizophrenia in 1979, when he developed the Thinking Disorders Scale. However, when making a differential diagnosis, it is necessary to differentiate the escape of ideas from the psychotic disorders themselves.

    Sometimes the brain drain appears in conjunction with delusionsBut then it is a different alteration, since the content of thought in the flight of ideas is preserved (no delirium appears); only its presentation is modified (faster than usual).


    The flight of ideas is considered a serious disorder which has a very negative impact on the subject; thought is so accelerated that it completely loses its functionality.

    Thus, the person experiences a massive shower of ideas inside his mind, but these ideas seem to overlap by the generation of the later idea; the person finally it does not respond to any particular idea. Hence its name, “ideas that escape” from each other. The person develops a lot of thoughts and ideas, but none of them are productive.

    On the other hand, thoughts disappear at the same rate as they appeared. The subject jumps from one subject to another without any logical order or congruence. The end result is that the speech becomes totally incongruous and the subject is unable to concentrate his thought on a particular idea or aspect, even if it is simple.

    In this way, tasks that require minimal concentration (for example, talking to someone or even cooking) become really difficult, because the speeding up of their thinking prevents that person from concentrating.


    The treatment of this class of alterations depends on the general clinical picture in which it is inscribed, that is to say on the disorder which generates it and other alterations.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Belloch, A .; Sandín, B. and Ramos, F. (2010). Manual of psychopathology. Volume II. Madrid: McGraw-Hill.
    • Vallejo, J. (2011). Introduction to psychopathology and psychiatry. (7th ed.) Barcelona: Masson.
    • American Psychiatric Association (2013). DSM-5. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th Edition). Washington, DC: author.

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