In acceleration of thinking, associations are still formed normally but at a grossly accelerated speed. The goal is not maintained for long and the intervention of new thoughts can reach the degree of 'flight of ideas'.
Retardation refers to a slowing down of the thinking process which hampers the formation of associations and may prevent the patient from reaching the original goal of his thoughts. This results in difficulties in concentration and decision-making.
Acceleration and retardation of thinking are due to a change of affect, and are characteristic of mood disorders. Circumstantiality
In circumstantiality the determining tendency is maintained but the patient can reach the goal only after having exhaustively explored all unnecessary associations arising in his mind. When answering a question, he relates many irrelevant details before returning to the point. This inability to exclude unimportant associations occurs in organic mental disorders and in mental retardation.
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