This piece for Holistic Elephants discusses the role of social context and environment in our perception and construction of “word salad,” a common symptom of psychosis and extreme states.
“So then the class explored instead: what this word salad might have actually been DOING to the psychologist, what did it DO within the social context of this interview and relationship, how did it function? The patient was breaking all of Grice’s ‘Maxims’ of polite conversation, wrecking all the polite adjacency pairs, and presenting abstract and obfuscating answers to deflect inquiries, challenges, normal conversation, and relationship building. And the person did this perfectly by talking word salad, which makes sense when you put it in context; that is, when you think about what this language is doing in the situation and not analyse what it means, expresses, communicates, refers to, or represents. In a functional sense, this was not ‘disorganized’ at all!”