Signs and symptoms of disorganized schizophrenia fall into several categories of disorganized thinking and behaviors, including:

  • Disorganized thinking. Disorganized thinking causes illogical, nonsensical thought patterns. This disorganization is also noticeable in the way an affected person talks. A person with disorganized thinking may not be able to stay on track in a conversation, instead jumping from one unrelated idea to another, so that it's impossible to understand what the person is trying to say. Making up words is common. Written communications also are very disorganized.
  • Grossly disorganized behavior. The disorganized behavior common to this type of schizophrenia causes severe problems in an affected person's ability to function in daily life. Bathing, dressing appropriately or preparing meals may be impossible. Other common issues include confronting others without logical reason, wearing many layers of clothing on a warm day, having a very messy appearance or engaging in sexual behavior in public.
  • Absent or inappropriate emotional expression. A person who lacks emotional expression (flat affect) has a blank face and doesn't make eye contact or use common body language. Although an affected person may show emotion at times, the person's range of expression is very limited compared with others. Emotions inappropriate to the situation also are common, such as acting silly or laughing loudly during a serious event.

Other signs and symptoms of disorganized schizophrenia

Although the main symptoms of disorganized schizophrenia are disorganized thinking and behavior, people with this condition may also have some of the other common signs and symptoms of schizophrenia, such as:
  • Having beliefs not based on reality (delusions)
  • Seeing or hearing things that don't exist (hallucinations), especially voices
  • Grimacing
  • Odd postures
  • Trouble functioning at school or work
  • Social isolation
  • Clumsy, uncoordinated movements

Helping someone who may have disorganized schizophrenia

If you have a loved one you think may have symptoms of disorganized schizophrenia, have an open and honest discussion about your concerns. You may not be able to force someone to seek professional help, but you can offer encouragement and support and help your loved one find a qualified doctor or mental health provider.

If your loved one poses a danger to himself or herself or to someone else, you may need to call the police or other emergency responders for help. In some cases, emergency hospitalization may be needed. Laws on involuntary commitment for mental health treatment vary.

Suicidal thoughts

Suicidal thoughts and behavior are common to disorganized schizophrenia. If someone you love is threatening suicide right now, call 911 or your local emergency services number.

Dec. 10, 2010