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This research provides empirical data relevant to the long-standing theoretical issue of whether disordered speech in schizophrenia should be viewed as a speech disturbance or a thought disorder. The study analyzed whether schizophrenia patients with disordered speech on one test also show strange nonverbal behavior and unrealistic ideas on other assessments. One hundred eighty-four patients, including 55 schizophrenia patients, were assessed at the acute phase and followed up twice, over 4.5 years. Patients were assessed (1) with a standardized measure that can elicit disordered speech, (2) with a different measure that can elicit an atypical sorting of objects and an intermingling of personal ideas, and (3) for delusions (unrealistic thinking). Schizophrenia patients with disordered speech on the Proverbs Test also (1) sorted objects strangely on the Object Sorting Test (P <.05), (2) showed an intermingling of personal ideas into their thinking (P <.01), and (3) had delusional ideas when assessed at two successive follow-ups over a multiyear period (P <.001). The data suggest that most schizophrenia patients and other psychotic patients with disordered speech also show strange nonverbal behavior and unrealistic ideas/beliefs. These data support a theoretical framework in which disordered speech in schizophrenia and other types of psychotic patients is viewed as not just due to a speech disorder, but is often part of a broader constellation that includes gross reality distortions, strange behavior and ideas, and disordered thinking.  

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