A clinical study of a man in severe cognitive decline

Charles Pierce at Esquire writes that Trump’s conversation with the Times reporter shows that he (Trump) is falling off a cognitive cliff.

In my view, the interview is a clinical study of a man in severe cognitive decline, if not the early stages of outright dementia.

Over the past 30 years, I’ve seen my father and all of his siblings slide into the shadows and fog of Alzheimer’s Disease. (the president’s father developed Alzheimer’s in his 80s.) In 1984, Ronald Reagan debated Walter Mondale in Louisville and plainly had no idea where he was. (Would that someone on the panel had asked him. He’d have been stumped.) Not long afterwards, I was interviewing a prominent Alzheimer’s researcher for a book I was doing, and he said, “I saw the look on his face that I see every day in my clinic.” In the transcript of this interview, I hear in the president*’s words my late aunt’s story about how we all walked home from church in the snow one Christmas morning, an event I don’t recall, but that she remembered so vividly that she told the story every time I saw her for the last three years of her life.

Trump’s obsessive repetition does seem very Alzheimer’s like, and so do some of his blurts of incoherence.

In this interview, the president* is only intermittently coherent. He talks in semi-sentences and is always groping for something that sounds familiar, even if it makes no sense whatsoever and even if it blatantly contradicts something he said two minutes earlier. To my ears, anyway, this is more than the president*’s well-known allergy to the truth. This is a classic coping mechanism employed when language skills are coming apart.

An apparent hope that speed and momentum can conceal the confusion and missing pieces.

There’s a lively discussion on the Esquire Politics page on Facebook. One comment is particularly grim:

Cognitive decline on top of pathological narcissism is extremely dangerous. As a clinician (retired) who specialized in personality disorders, it is obvious to me that Trump’s narcissism is extreme and when he implodes, he will lash out violently which is probably what the rest of the world is worried about. Cognitive decline will only accelerate his lashing out as he will have diminished ability to control his impulses. Simply put, we haven’t seen anything yet in terms of this man’s potential destructiveness.

Like General Jack D. Ripper only a lot worse.

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