What does “breakdown” mean in this context?

This is a passage from an Wikipedia article on Schizophrenia:

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a breakdown of thought processes and by a deficit of typical emotional responses.

What does breakdown here mean? Does it mean to make incomplete, like they are unable to complete the thought process thus it breaks it?


If something breaks down, it falls apart or stops working. In this case, schizophrenics have a thought process that doesn’t work. The wikipedia entry that you have quoted (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schizophrenia) continues “Common symptoms are delusions and disorganized thinking including auditory hallucinations, paranoia, bizarre delusions, disorganized speech…” These symptoms are examples of the breakdown mentioned.

From http://www.thefreedictionary.com/breakdown:

    a. The act or process of failing to function or continue.
    b. The condition resulting from this: a breakdown in communication.
2. Electricity The abrupt failure of an insulator or insulating medium to restrict the flow of current.
3. A typically sudden collapse in physical or mental health.
4. An analysis, an outline, or a summary consisting of itemized data or essentials.
5. Disintegration or decomposition into parts or elements.
6. A noisy, energetic American country dance.

Your quote is an example of definition 3.

Source : Link , Question Author : Theo , Answer Author : BobRodes

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