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What is Word Salad?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Word salad is a term used to describe the psychological language disorder schizophasia, a common symptom of mental diseases such as schizophrenia. Much like a salad in which different vegetables or fruits are tossed together, schizophasia is a random jumble of words. It's important to note that genuine word salad isn't intentionally created by a person, but rather results due to an involuntary, compulsive speech disorder.

Many people who speak in the incoherent speech known as word salad or schizophasia also have logorrhea, which is an excessive amount of speech. Not all people have both schizophasia and logorrhea. Whereas schizophasia is always incoherent, logorrhea may or may not be.

Correct or incorrect grammar may occur in word salad. Even when the grammar is correct though, the sentences are still incoherent. An example of grammatically incorrect schizophasia would be something like "Blue afraid you no carpet cat got fear bricks of orderly mess." Words are said at random by people who have schizophasia. Philosopher Noam Chomsky is well known for his studies in language and cognitive science; his famous grammatically correct example of word salad is "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously."

Words and ideas often become mixed up for a person with a mental disorder such as schizophrenia. Besides word salads and excessive speech, what is known as clang associations may be used by schizophrenics. Clang associations are random words spoken with patterns of sound such as rhyming or alliteration rather than logical meaning. An example of a clang association that could also be a word salad is something like "The run sun done the gun; don't drink drown down, brown gown."

Schizophasia is not only difficult for those trying to make sense of what a person is saying, but difficult for the speaker. Since most mental disorders make communication very difficult, the nonsensical speech of word salads only makes the problem worse. The schizophrenic may have something to communicate, yet it often gets lost in his or her disordered language. This along with other symptoms such as a lack of expressed emotion or sudden, disruptive behavior can make communicative relationships extremely difficult for schizophrenics.

Treatment for word salad is often by medications called psychotropics. Psychotropic drugs are designed to work on the central nervous system to help ease symptoms of diseases such as schizophrenia. Psychotropic medications are often prescribed to people with psychosis. Psychosis is a disconnect with reality that typically occurs in schizophrenia and other brain diseases.

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Discussion Comments
By BambooForest — On Feb 12, 2011

There was a 2009 film with Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx called the Soloist which depicted a prodigy musician who, because of his falling into schizophrenia, ended up homeless on the streets of Los Angeles. A reporter finds him and tries to help him achieve the recognition he deserves, and it is very difficult. The film is based on real events, and is really very inspiring.

By sherlock87 — On Feb 10, 2011

This is just one of the many symptoms of schizophrenia that make it so difficult to deal with. I truly hope that a cure or at least better treatment will be found, and soon, for the many people who struggle with this but want to live normal lives.

By widget2010 — On Feb 08, 2011

While schizophrenics have the most pronounced word salad, I have known people who were either depressed or suffering from things like post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder to have some problems with word salad as well. In these cases it can also be hard because, since these people do not do it as often, sometimes they do not realize that what they said made no sense.

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