The concept of “flight of ideas” has to do with a thought disorder, generally psychosis. It is described as a rapid succession of ideas (often fleeting, partial, etc.) in which the content changes abruptly. Generally assessed through the observation of one’s speech, which will be thematically incoherent. The words themselves may be identified, but since the associated thoughts are shifting so quickly (and have no logical connection), it won’t make any sense.
The way I try to describe this symptom is through the example of television: try to make sense out of watching a series of television shows, changed randomly every couple of seconds. You might understand the words, and even glean snippets of each individual channel, but there would be no logical sense to the process as a whole. In less severe cases, there might be irrational associations from one thought to the next (i.e. two successive thoughts based on words that rhyme), but even then the process is still well beyond coherent.
This symptom typically presents during a manic episode, and may be seen to a less significant degree in a hypomanic episode (depending on the type of Bipolar disorder an individual is experiencing). Flight of ideas may also present in individuals experiencing schizophrenia, or some other form of a psychotic break (for example, psychosis resulting from substance use).
While flight of ideas is generally assessed through an individual’s speech (and it is often obvious pretty quickly), one may also see this through the individual’s writing. As described above, one will see a document written with recognizable words (usually!), but it won’t make any sense. You may see bits of associations between the rambling thought process, but the overall theme will present as nonsensical. Often, one will also observe certain elements of delusional thinking also present in the writing, if the person is also experiencing that difficulty (for example, the names of celebrities, politicians, etc. might be included).
The presence of flight of ideas indicates a severe mental health problem, though the treatment and prognosis depends to a large degree on the cause of the thought disorder. For example, substance-induced disorganization will typically dissipate as the drug is metabolized. More significantly, a manic or schizophrenic disorganization typically requires treatment with medication.
For all those interested in various issues related to Geekdom:
1) An effort is underway to honor the late Gary Gygax with a statue in his hometown of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. If you have to ask, “Who is Gary Gygax?” you are probably wasting your time reading this post. The truly pertinent question would be, “Will there be any features that allow for animation, and a potential destructive rampage?”
2) Star Wars versus Star Trek - Which one to choose on a desert isle? Despite the fact that the poll question posed is not the same as the question many are answering (from a look at the comments), it is a fun debate that was portrayed rather humorously in Fan Boys. My vote? Star Wars, of course!
3) As recently noted, I pulled out an old microgame called Saga, and played it with my seven-year old last weekend. He enjoyed the game, but it is a by-the-numbers game, very little imagination involved. I’ve often wondered when my kids can start to tackle the more complex and/or more imaginative stuff. Based on a review by Paul Tevis and reviews at RPG.com, I’ve decided to order Faery's Tale, a role-playing game for children. From the sound of it, the game allows for a fair bit of imagination, the use of magic, and emphasizes problem-solving skills (instead of just hacking away at everything). Looks good! Once I’ve played it with the kids, I’ll post my impressions.
5) Lileks posts about all sorts of nostalgia, and he has a recurring post regarding “out-of context” advertisements. This one is pretty funny. Today’s newspaper carriers are tomorrow’s leaders! I’m proof-positive that this is not necessarily the case...
1) A review of Dawn of Discovery, a real-time video game that sounds similar in design to borad games such as Settlers of Catan, in that it is primarily economics-based. Nice to see the niche German-style games becoming increasingly mainstream. I posted about Settlers of Catan, and German-style games previously, here.
2) I played Saga with my oldest boy over the weekend. For those unfamiliar with microgames (which, I'd estimate, is 99.999999% of you), you can learn more here. Saga was a TSR microgame, an effort by the big boys to try and cash in on microgames' popularity in the late 70s and early 80s. Here is a list of many of the most popular microgames of yesteryear (a post I'd like to write more extensively someday).
3) ScienceDaily has an article discussing why we learn more from successes rather than failures, including the neuroscience behind this observation. The article talks about this in terms of its application to learning disorders, but I'd note this information applies to most therapeutic efforts, from goal identifiaction, homework assignments, the focus of the content of therapy sessions, etc. Good stuff.
5) Budgetary issues force agencies, such as schools, to make hard decisions. However, Cogitive Daily reviews research suggesting there is no need to cut Music from a curriculum out of fear students do not have enough time to learn required material. My general sense is that, all things being equal, a rising tide raises all ships: a student who is active and involved in multiple healthy activities tends to do better overall. Obviously, the individual's needs must be considered (e.g. the student who requires extra work, the student specializing in a particular area), but in general I would think exposure to multiple creative/intellectual/active endeavors is a good thing.
6) Researchers think that they may be able to study trauma (and associated memory issues) through an examination of memory patterns of people running marathons. (HT: Mind Hacks). The main issue, as pointed out in the comments, is that the trauma experience is not simply defined by one's physiology during a traumatic event, but the cognitive response to it (i.e. perceived helplessness, hopelessness, etc.), as well as the sense (or lack thereof) of control. This is why women who give birth, no doubt a physiologically intense experience, nevertheless do not typically have PTSD in the aftermath, unless the birth is problematic.
...when it starts popping up in all sorts of mainstream pop culture media. Now, I'm not saying there haven't been references to Facebook, Myspace, etc. before (I remember recently seeing an episode of My Boys that revolved around Facebook), but to have a large-scale movie (in this case, Funny People) devote this amount of time (HT: TechCrunch) to these sites suggests social networking is sufficiently well-known to the general audience that the material will be broadly recognized, not merely an insider reference. I suppose I knew this anyway, given personal observations: Two years ago, I was way too old for Facebook - now, parents and in-laws are sending me friend requests. Indeed, Facebook has arrived!
Within the overarching topic of whether Internet and gaming addictions are, in fact, addictions in the psychiatric sense of the word (which I don't know enough about to render a meaningful opinion), I saw this article. According to the post, a psychiatrist in England is discussing the possibility of offering game addiction treatment to people who play World of Warcraft excessively. His idea is to have mental health professionals available in the game setting, and potentially work with the peer supervisors to identify individuals who may need assistance. Going into the game is a way of reaching the group who might not otherwise surface much into the real world, thereby slipping through the cracks.
I have no idea of how prevalent excessive game play is, whether players would even respond to any sort of outreach, etc. I don't think it's ever a bad idea to have suggested guidelines or recommendations for any activity, and certainly if someone isn't paying bills or going to work because they are playing a game 15 hours a day, they need to get theri priorities in order. I just think that the idea of mental health professionals roaming through multi-player game scenarios sounds funny, even if the effort is serious and legitimate. In fact, my first thought was of the "Angel" in the movie Disclosure, the all-knowing Internet guide...