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Tangential, Circumstantial, Incoherent Thought

Describe Tangential, Circumstantial and incoherent thought processes with an example to demonstrate your understanding of their distinctions.

Tangential thought processes are when thoughts have some connections between the preceding thought and the following thought, however there is a loosening of associations. When there is enough meaning attached to one utterance, the dialogue continues in a continuous fashion. When flooding takes place interrupting the continuous dialogue, there are illogical patterns in the dialogue with one thought being interrupted by another thought. In tangential thought processing, some connection between thoughts remains despite the interruptions. For this process, each new thought is linked to the current thought but proceeds in a different direction and there is no return to the original main thought or idea. For example, the patient will begin with one statement, then make another related statement that goes in another direction, and then another statement that goes in still another direction, and the processes continues, never returning to the original point.

Circumstantial thought processes are similar to tangential thought processes, since one thought is somewhat connected to the next, but for the circumstantial thought process, different from the tangential thought process, there is a return to the original topic. For circumstantial thought processes there is a circuitous route to an answer with many details, but there is a return to the original thought. For this process, one thought is stated and then the patient wanders from this point with excessive detail that is unreasonable, finally returning to the main point. For example, the patient will begin with one statement, then proceed with an unreasonable about of detail, seemingly off track or in new directions, as takes place with tangential thought processing, however in this case as the processes continues the patient finally retu...

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