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Cognitive slippage is a symptom of several psychiatric diseases and mental disorders associated with cognition and formal thought disorders. It is manifested in patterns of speech, where categories and lists become overly broad as concepts unrelated at first glance become related through tangential connections.
An example of cognitive slippage might be as follows:
- "List some types of cars."
- "Let's see, there's Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Japan, Rising Sun, Hiroshima, Atomic Bomb, Enola Gay, oh and Miata."
The inclusion of extraneous items in the listing is evidence of the cognitive slippage. While the concepts such as Toyota, Japan, Rising Sun, etc. are all related, the relation is no longer defined by the initial prompt. The cognitive slippage, however, causes the inability to disregard these extraneous connections and results in patterns of speech and association as seen here. In contrast, another disorder of speech, word salad is even more disorganized than the loose associations of cognitive slippage.
Cognitive slippage is one of the positive symptoms of schizophrenia, a psychiatric illness which has impacts on every facet of a patient's life.
Cognitive slippage can also refer to the sense of discontinuity in time and place experienced by people with schizophrenia. Who because they interpret experiences on the basis of meanings rather than facts, and are not necessarily able to generalise from previous experience can find their sense of where they are disturbed, in a sometimes threatening way. In paranoia for example a passing car may be suddenly identified as that belonging to a survelliance company and the person can be thrown into distress which is not contained by their previous thoughts of it being a safe sunny day or having ridden in that car without ill effects.
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