Thought Disorders

A thought disorder is characterized by illogical or irrational patterns of thinking. While normal thought patterns tend to follow a relatively linear path with one thought logically leading to another, individuals with a thought disorder will experience seemingly disconnected or incoherent thoughts. These irregular thinking patterns generally interfere with the afflicted individual’s ability to function normally.


Thought disorders are commonly associated with schizophrenia or psychosis, but they do not necessarily indicate that either of those disorders are present. A thought disorder is often a symptom of mania, and can also be present in depression or other mental disorders.


Types of Thought Disorders

It is unlikely that a thought disorder will escape detection. Thought-disordered individuals have great difficulty communicating, with their attempts at expressing themselves appearing jumbled or rambling. As a result, thought disorders are classified in relation to the manner in which they affect the speech of the afflicted.

  • Derailment – Speech that disconnectedly moves away from the original topic with every statement
  • Alogia – Also known as a “poverty of speech,” when an individual doesn’t respond or replies sparsely
  • Tangentiality – Speech that wanders further and further off topic, and does not return
  • Illogicality – Speech that draws unfounded connections and conclusions
  • Perseveration – Repetition of words or phrases regardless of whether the topic has changed
  • Thought blocking – Stopping in the middle of a response for an extended time and resuming with a disconnected topic or idea


Treatment of Thought Disorders

Because thought disorders can sometimes indicate a serious medical condition, treatment is highly dependent upon the diagnosis. Individuals with thought disorders usually benefit from psychotherapy, with treatment focused on improving the behavioral and emotional issues associated with thought disorders. One-on-one therapy sessions can guide thought-disordered individuals through rational thought progressions, helping them to function better in day-to-day life.

The Next Chapter Approach

Next Chapter takes a highly-personalized approach to treatment for all of our clients, beginning with a thorough psychosocial assessment completed by patient’s therapist and a psychiatric evaluation completed by our medical director. Later in the process we often will include a psychological assessment to aid in the diagnosis of the condition or conditions each client is facing. These initial evaluations are followed up by weekly visits with our medical director and patient’s therapist and supported by our clinical team approach in which each client’s unique needs and treatment are addressed by the entire treatment team. The team meets daily to discuss in detail each of our client’s needs.

Together, our clinical team will prescribe a course of action that may evidence-based treatments practices such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Solution Focused Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, EMDR and other Trauma focused modalities. Individualized treatment plans also include therapeutic groups, individual sessions, family work, and 12-Step education groups.