In this post, I continue talking about positive symptoms, in particular, thought disorders. These include things like making loose associations, trouble organizing thoughts or connecting them logically, garbled speech, something called “thought blocking” (which I will describe shortly), and making up meaningless words.
Many of these symptoms are probably noticeable by anyone who has interacted with me, but after trying to think of examples of my personal experience with them, I began to realize that while I do suffer from these symptoms, I primarily suffered from the cognitive symptom of lacking insight on certain aspects of my illness. If not that, then at the very least, I simply wasn’t aware of them until I had started researching schizophrenia more in-depth for these posts.
The first thought disorder I mentioned, which is making loose associations, is something I find myself guilty of numerous times, however, I believe I do it so often before I did any research, I had just assumed this was simply how peoples’ minds worked. While it may be true for some people, or even true for everyone in isolated incidents, I do believe it happens quite a bit with me. When I say “making loose associations”, imagine yourself playing the “word association” game with someone. As some examples, when they say, “Cow” you say “milk”. When they say “water,” you say “ocean”. When they say “sun,” you say “bright”. As a schizophrenic person, the associations may not make sense at first, or at all. Say you’re playing this word association game with a schizophrenic person and you both have a friend named Paisley. For fun, you say “Paisley” to see what the person thinks of your friend in one word. They respond with the word “Oven”. It seems pretty bizarre, but when they explain it to you, it’s because Paisley rhymes with pastry, and pastries are baked in an oven. In this case, I was the schizophrenic person and that actually happened when someone asked me what our friend’s name was. The only name I could think of was “Oven” even though I knew that wasn’t actually a person’s name.
Another thought disorder includes troubles organizing thoughts or connecting them logically; certainly another symptom I have troubles identifying in myself simply because I am so used to organizing my thoughts in such a disorganized fashion that it’s pretty much normal for me. I really tried hard to think of an example, but I can’t come up with anything. It’s sort of like asking a blind person who has been blind since birth to describe a color, it’s simply outside of their ability to perceive things. Perhaps now that I’m more aware of it, maybe I can discern my thought organization between when I’m healthy and when I’m not so healthy. I’m relatively healthy right now, however, and I hope to stay this way indefinitely. So for my sake, I hope I am never able to give you an example.
Garbled speech is another thought disorder, one which has afflicted me quite often, however, I have been fortunate enough for it not to have adversely affected very often. It happens most often when I haven’t thought of the words I want to speak ahead of time, although in more recent years I’ve found myself to put pauses in my speech to compensate for that. As a result my speech isn’t as garbled, however, I am very often interrupted mid-sentence in conversations with people who don’t know me well because they think I am done speaking. It can be pretty frustrating, because in my opinion, I sometimes have very profound things to say! An example of my garbled speech that stands out the most is when I was working at a liquor store and I had a penny-pinching customer arguing with me about the price of something. I’m always very calm when explaining prices to customers, but while I was doing this with this particular customer, my garbled speech had taken over, which resulted in him seeing it as a sign of weakness, and tried to take advantage of that by attempting to bully me into getting his 30 cents off. So in instances like that, this symptom can be pretty frustrating to deal with.
Making up meaningless words when trying to speak has never been an issue for me, although I have found myself speaking in neologisms as a way to entertain myself when I’m bored. With this particular symptom, I’m “sorry but not sorry”. Sorry I don’t have any examples for you because it’s not a problem for me, not sorry because I’m glad I don’t have to deal with this sort of problem in my everyday life.