How Does Disorganized Schizophrenia Differ From The Other Subtypes Of Schizophrenia?

Reviewed by Whitney White, MS CMHC, NCC., LPC

Published 12/09/2020

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Although living with schizophrenia is trying disorder, there are treatments available that aim to find relief from the symptoms. As long as the individual suffering from schizophrenia seeks the right help at the right time, they can find a way to deal with symptoms.

Up until 2013, doctors and researchers believed there were several different subtypes included in the schizophrenia classification. They also believed the subtypes assisted with the diagnosis and treatment of schizophrenia. In 2013, their mindset changed — as did their classification.

Instead of being listed as subtypes, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) listed them as symptoms. They noted that the subtypes didn’t do anything to help with the diagnosis or treatment, which was reason enough to transition it into one disorder — schizophrenia.

Whether they’re viewed as symptoms or subtypes, understanding the different ways schizophrenia can affect someone’s life is crucial to them receiving the right treatment. After all, it’s difficult to walk in the individual’s shoes if you don’t know what they’re experiencing.

That’s why you’ll often see schizophrenia divided by the symptoms being felt — whether they’re disorganized symptoms, catatonic symptoms, delusions, hallucinations, or negative symptoms.

So, what is disorganized schizophrenia?

Disorganized schizophrenia, commonly referred to as hebephrenic schizophrenia, is what doctors refer to when the individual suffering from schizophrenia is experiencing disorganized symptoms. The symptoms lead to confusion, forgetfulness, impaired judgement, and much more.

Disorganized symptoms are further broken down into three major categories — disorganized speech, disorganized behavior, and inappropriate affect. Let’s take a closer look at each category and how they impact someone’s life.

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  1. Disorganized Speech

When people have a hard time concentrating on one thought or maintaining their thought process, it could lead to difficulty speaking. In more severe cases, the individual is hard to understand and talking nonsense. This is often called disorganized speech.

When living with disorganized speech, your answers to certain questions don’t always make sense, you often repeat words or sentences over and over again (preservation), you change the ordering of words, you rhyme words that don’t make sense (clang), you make up words that no one else understands (neologism), and you have a hard time staying on one topic (loose association).

Although they can’t control it, people living with disorganized speech as a result of schizophrenia are often treated as outsiders and don’t interact with others. This lack of social connection only damages the individual more — physically, emotionally, and mentally.

  1. Disorganized Behavior

Disorganized behavior is similar to disorganized speech, except it has to do with your actions and behaviors. It does this by attacking goal-oriented behavior, such as getting dressed in the morning or brushing your teeth.

Living with disorganized behavior makes it difficult to both start a task and end a task. The constant disorganization, forgetfulness, and scattered behavior make it hard to live an independent life, which is why most people suffering from these symptoms don’t live alone.

Overall, disorganized behavior leads to a loss of control in some situations, loss of daily functioning by the mind and body, unpredictable reactions, unwarranted emotions, and behavior that lacks meaning or purpose. It can also make the simplest tasks almost impossible to complete.

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3. Inappropriate Affect

The final major symptom of schizophrenia disorganized type is known as the inappropriate effect. In this context, ‘affect’ refers to a person’s emotional response to certain scenarios. For example, when someone smiles at you, the appropriate ‘affect’ is to smile back.

With disorganized schizophrenia, ‘inappropriate effect’ refers to emotional responses or reactions that are unwarranted, unexpected, or simply don’t make sense. If someone waves at you and you don’t wave back, that’s considered an inappropriate affect.

In addition to that, the inappropriate effect is sometimes referred to as flat affect, which simply means the individual experiences no emotion or no response when interacted with. They might also struggle to make eye contact when speaking with someone or carry a blunt facial expression for long periods of time.


Earlier, we mentioned how there are several different symptoms (which used to be subtypes) of schizophrenia, one of them being disorganized symptoms.

While most people suffering from schizophrenia are bound to experience disorganized speech, behavior, or affects, it’s not the only thing they’ll be fighting on a daily basis. They’re also suffering from catatonic symptoms, delusions, hallucinations, and negative symptoms — all of which have a negative impact on that individual’s life.

To ensure we all understand the magnitude of this disorder and what it’s like living with it, we’re going to take a closer look at each symptom:

  • Catatonic Symptoms – a unique symptom that impairs the individual’s movements. They might stay in one place for a long time, make strange body movements, or have difficulty reacting to certain stimuli.
  • Paranoia Symptoms – the two most prominent symptoms of schizophrenia, delusions, and hallucinations, are included in the paranoia type. They’re experienced by most individuals living with schizophrenia and occur frequently.
  • Negative Symptoms – these symptoms include a loss of motivation, loss of interest, lack of expression, unawareness of your surroundings, and a lack of self-care.

While catatonic schizophrenia, hebephrenic schizophrenia (disorganized), and paranoid schizophrenia are no longer subtypes of the illness, they’re still used in the diagnosis and are extremely important to understand when dishing out the right kind of treatment for each individual.

Some of the early warning signs outside of the symptoms listed above include poor hygiene, avoid social interactions, depression, anxiety, suspiciousness, inability to express yourself properly or clearly, weird statements, and insomnia.

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It’s important to note that these warning signs don’t mean the person is suffering from schizophrenia. When combined with the symptoms listed above, professional help is required to do a full analysis of the individual — physically, emotionally, and mentally.


One of the most common questions we get asked when discussing schizophrenia and disorganized symptoms is whether or not people living with the illness are dangerous. The reason it gets asked so often is that most people assume the answer is Yes.

In reality, people living with schizophrenia aren’t dangerous. They’re not out to harm anyone, they don’t enjoy living with schizophrenia, and most people are actively searching for a better life. Those that aren’t seeking help likely don’t know they have an issue, which is why having a support group is essential for any patient.

While they don’t mean any harm, most individuals living with this disorder are scared, and a majority of their symptoms are uncontrollable without the right treatment.

In fact, it’s not the only misconception when it comes to schizophrenia and disorganized symptoms. Many people around the world are under the assumption that schizophrenia is rare, that these individuals suffer from multiple personalities, and that schizophrenia can’t be helped.

That’s simply not true. It’s believed that 1 in 100 people suffer from schizophrenia, meaning you’re at a higher risk of developing the illness than you’d think. It also has nothing to do with bipolar disorder or having multiple personalities — which is a completely different disorder.

Finally, it’s important to note that schizophrenia can be helped. Individuals suffering from this illness aren’t ‘lost causes,’ and they still have an opportunity to lead a happy and healthy life.


While there’s no cure for schizophrenia, individuals need to know when to seek help, how to seek help, and how to maintain the treatment plan their doctor has in store for them. It’s not easy for anyone to do this alone, but peace and happiness can be achieved with the right help.

Of course, that’s not possible unless you effectively detect schizophrenia early in the process. The longer it goes unnoticed, the more difficult it’ll be to curve (yet, still not impossible). In fact, most people living with schizophrenia will need to follow long-term treatment plans that generally last their entire life.

That’s why being connected with the right doctors, the right therapists, and the right support groups are essential to the individual receiving the help they need. At Mind Diagnostics, we want to make this a reality for anyone living with schizophrenia.

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To do our part, we’ve created an online schizophrenia test that helps detect the most common symptoms of schizophrenia — including delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, catatonia, and disorganization. This test isn’t a diagnostic tool, and visiting with a medical or mental health professional is the only way to receive a valid diagnosis for any condition.

Once detected, we can further assist you with the process of finding the right therapist. That way, you’re well on your way to receiving the disorganized schizophrenia treatment you deserve.

If you’re ready to finally start taking control of your life and enjoying all the finer things this world has to offer, contact us today or visit our website/app to take your online schizophrenia test today. It won’t take long, but the results could change your life for the better!

Your best days are ahead of you, and we can’t wait to help you get there!