what it is, its characteristics and how to detect it

Thought is one of the most complex cognitive functions of the human being, being a psychological aptitude that allows to make an assessment of reality and also the formulation of various judgments and evaluations. Likewise, thought is responsible for ordering information through various processes.

The disintegration of thought is characterized by the existence of a loss of the guiding idea, with a breakdown of the associations of normal ideas, so that strange associations of ideas detached from the subject’s experience arise. -even, so that the listener does not usually understand his speech. Moreover, it is not influenced by external stimuli.

In this article we will talk about thought disintegration and how it affects the lives of people with this type of thought disorderbut first let’s concisely discuss what thought is for.

The functions of thought

As we said before, thought, in a broad sense, is an important tool for human beings, because it allows us to make an assessment of everything that is happening around us, as well as to order all the information which process our brain through a series of thought processes of correlation, integration, association, symbolization, correlation, etc. Yes it is through our thinking the process of forming judgments, evaluations, criticisms, desires, imaginations and ideas.

Therefore, any type of mental disorder that affects our thinking can cause us serious problems that can prevent us from developing properly on a day-to-day basis and can even cause us a lot of discomfort.

Thought disorders are generally divided into two broad categories: content-related thought disorders and formal thought disorders.being ranked last the disintegration of thought, which is the disorder of which we shall speak below.

What is thought disintegration?

The disintegration of thought is one of the formal disorders of thought, and is characterized mainly by a loss of ability to maintain the guiding ideabeing caused by the existence of a breakdown of normal associations of thought, so that thoughts circulate which have no logical connection with each other.

This is why the person who suffers from thought disintegration usually tends to slip from one topic to another, whether or not there is an apparent relationship between the two. Fragments unrelated to each other may also appear in your mind, or there may even have been a distortion of language at the syntactical level, so that when speaking, the patient only undertakes a mixture of syllables or words.

It may also happen that the disintegration of thought causes the patient to use a grammatically acceptable construction of words, but with a noticeable inconsistency, so that people who interact with this person may have difficulty understanding what they are mean. On the other hand, when there is a disintegration of thought, the thought is usually not included by external stimuli, and also acquires an autonomous nuance, resulting in incomprehensible and even absurd content..

It should be noted that thought disintegration is a disorder that usually occurs mainly in clinical cases in which patients suffer from schizophrenia (especially residual and hebephrenic schizophrenia), although it is not exclusive to this disorder, because it can be given in other types of cases.

For the Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler, known for having coined the terms “schizophrenia”, “schizoid” or “autism”, among other contributions, the disintegration of thought is dominated by a type of association which, instead of being governed by a decisive idea, rather obeys a series of rules such as simple chance, resemblance of sounds or some kind of unusual causality, so that this thought is affected mainly in the way of ordering the thought according to various factors (continuity time, logical sequence, etc.).

In short, in the disintegration of thought there is loss of the leading idea because there is a breakdown in the associations of normal thinking ideas, so that associations of strange ideas arise which are detached from the experience of the subject himself and, consequently, the hearer does not understand them; for although the sentences are often understandable, as a whole they form an incoherent speech. Moreover, this disintegration of thought is not influenced by external stimuli.

Therefore, thought disintegration produces serious difficulties for those who suffer from this formal thought disorder due largely to the difficulties they experience when it comes to being aware of what is going on around them. of them, as well as being able to communicate effectively with them. other people (Ex: the clock strikes 8 o’clock, as this meal is rich, tomorrow there is a football match).

Signs that can detect a disintegration of thought

The disintegration of thought it is generally manifested mainly by the loss or reduction of the common bonds of association between each of the ideas that appear in the subject’s thought., we would therefore be faced with a fragmentary, unrelated and even strange thought because the associations between successive ideas do not make much sense. Moreover, in the most severe cases of disintegration of thought, a stream of ideas completely incomprehensible to the listener may develop, as well as spoken language.

There are several examples in the language of a person suffering from thought disintegration such as those we will explain below.

1. Cryptolalia

Cryptolalia or “hidden speech” is one of the alterations in spoken language caused by a disintegration of thought and it is characterized by the use of a type of language that is incomprehensible and private to the listener. Although it is a type of language that can be used by some people without any mental disorder, it is common in some cases of thought disintegration, usually being associated with some kind of psychotic disorder.

In these cases “cryptography” can also occur, which consists of a type of hidden writing, being basically the same way of expressing language as in the case of cryptolalia, but in this case instead of be expressed orally, it would be in writing.

2. Neologisms

Neologisms consist of the use of condensed or even invented wordsbeing understandable only to the patient and often occurring quite frequently in people with some type of psychotic disorder, being closely related to thought disintegration.

3. Symbolisms

The use of symbolism has also been associated with a disintegration of thought and is essentially the fact that the patient has stopped using words in the meaning they commonly have, but has given them a personal meaning, so that It is often difficult for listeners to understand what he is saying.

4. Word Salad

Another of the language impairments that has been most closely linked to a disintegration of thought is the phenomenon known as “word salad”, which it is mainly characterized by the use of a mixture of words without syntactic order, and it is also common to include the use of neologisms. Consequently, the patient’s speech is incoherent.

Features of Thought Disintegration

We will explain below the main characteristics of thought digression in order to understand more deeply this phenomenon related to the psychopathology of thought.

1. Block the thought

Thought blocking or omission is one of the main characteristics related to thought disintegration, characterized by the fact that the ideas that follow the main thought that has been overshadowing the subjecteven if there is no interference from other secondary thoughts.

2. Nonsense

Nonsense is another characteristic that has been quite often associated with the disintegration of thought, and it usually manifests as incoherent and meaningless thoughts, words and/or actionsto be able to observe an exchange between the thoughts which are related to the own interior world or to the conscience and those which refer to the outside, to be able to start a delusional formation of thought and confusions between the concepts.

3. Parenthesis

Finally, we will talk about digression, which is another phenomenon characteristic of the disintegration of thought and he is known to deflect the affected subject from the main theme of his story, presentation or speech moving on to another topic that has no direct relation to the main topic I was commenting on. In other words, there is an invasion of secondary thoughts and ideas that end up replacing the common thread of the subject I was mainly talking about.

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