Circumstantial speech (also referred to as circumstantiality) is the result of a so-called "non-linear thought pattern" and occurs when the focus of a conversation drifts, but often comes back to the point. In circumstantiality, apparently unnecessary details and seemingly irrelevant remarks cause a delay in getting to the point.
If someone exhibits circumstantial speech during a conversation, they will often seem to "talk the long way around" to their point, which may be an attempt by the speaker to include pertinent details, that may contrast with the speech which is more direct, succinct, and to the point (the gist) even at the expense of more precise, accurate communication.
Some individuals with autistic tendencies may prefer highly precise speech, and this may seem circumstantial, but in fact it is a choice that posits that more details are necessary to communicate a precise meaning, and preempt more disastrous ambiguous communication.
A person afflicted with circumstantiality has slowed thinking and invariably talks at length about irrelevant and trivial details (i.e. circumstances). Eliciting information from such a person can be difficult since circumstantiality makes it hard for the individual to stay on topic. In most instances however, the relevant details are eventually achieved.
The disorder is often associated with schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
An example of circumstantial speech is that when asked about the age of a person's mother at death, the speaker responds by talking at length about accidents and how too many people die in accidents, then eventually says what the mother's age was at death.
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