Mania & Loosing Track in Mid-sentence or a Word Goes Blank
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Q:  Mania & Loosing Track in Mid-sentence or a Word Goes Blank

When I get manic, sometimes a strange thing happens to me. I'm talking
really fast, then suddenly I forget what I was saying in the middle of a sentence or
a word and my mind goes completely blank. No matter how hard I try to think back, I
can't remember what I was talking about. Someone told me it's called "thought
blocking" and is seen in schizophrenia. I was wondering if this is a symptom of
mania or is it only a symptom of schizophrenia?        

Dear Chris --

Interesting question. Frankly, I'm not sure we really know what happens in schizophrenia when someone suddenly stops talking. "Thought blocking" is merely an external description. I'll bet someone with schizophrenia has tried to describe what is actually going on in their head at the time, but I have never run across such a commentary.

By contrast, I have heard many people with bipolar disorder lose track of a line of though during a manic or hypomanic rush of ideas. So I have no doubt that this kind of lost thought can be part of bipolar disorder.

In schizophrenia, "paucity of thought" is a well recognized and unfortunate part of the illness. There just isn't much going on, in terms of thought process, to an outside observer, in severe schizophrenia. (Paucity means a lack of, as you probably know). As your experience attests, in bipolar mania, we witness almost the opposite problem: there are too many thoughts. So when you stop talking all of a sudden because you have lost your train of thought, I doubt that "thought blocking" is an appropriate term -- based at least on your brief description here.

Dr. Phelps

Published January, 2008


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