The Unfiltered Mind of Donald Trump – A Tentative Psychiatric Evaluation

By Dr David Laing Dawson

It has become a pastime for some of us, to try to understand the phenomenon of Donald Trump, and a pastime for others to try to stop him from gaining the Presidency.

There are moments, it seems, in which he simply lacks a filter. What comes to his mind is spoken. Spoken without consideration of context, of purpose, of audience, of historical and present taboos, manners, etiquette.

Everybody occasionally makes that slip. Every politician, in a lifetime of public service, makes that slip at least once, and then has to explain, and apologize, and sometimes resign.

Clinically there are people who not only never make that slip, but punish themselves for bad thoughts, or who must undo the thought through a ritual. And others who cannot enter the simplest social conversation without first rehearsing their words. This is the problem of OCD. It is a treatable condition. Would that Donald Trump had a little of this problem.

At the opposite end, clinically, are people who blurt out whatever is on their minds. Some of these have ADD. The words are said, the deed is done, before the brain can say, “Wait a minute, this might not be a good idea.”

The autistic spectrum produces a problem reading social context, but usually with an accompanying anxiety that is protective. Still, some on the spectrum have rudely pointed out my double chin, asked about my age. Others can obsess and rant about a subject of no interest to the listener.

Manics, under a pressure of speech, may step close and make an inappropriate personal remark, a comment on age, breath, body odor, or sexual parts. Though usually their thoughts are elsewhere, pondering grander questions.

People with psychotic illness, struggling to create a usable mental map of the world, can sometimes spout racist theories and generalizations that make their caregivers blanch.

Well, The Donald is not manic, nor psychotic, nor autistic. He could have some ADD (attention deficit disorder). He is bored easily, easily distracted, not known to concentrate for long on any problem, uninterested in detail, and, in a sense, quite creative. He also speaks as a teenager with ADD. Seldom can he start a sentence and bring it to logical closure without an insert or two, these inserts often derailing the original intention of the sentence.

In one of his recent gaffes, he hinted that a gun owner might limit the Presidency of Hilary Clinton. It was almost possible to read his thoughts, and watch his brain struggle to forge his original thought into something appropriate for this audience.

He is speaking. He tells us if Hilary is elected she will pick Supreme Court Judges opposed to the second amendment. “No way of stopping her folks.” And then he has the thought, “unless a gun owner shoots her”. This thought must come out. He struggles for a split second and manages to obscure it just a little, “Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is.”

So, he has ADD.

That alone might not disqualify him from being President. Others can handle the details, keep him on schedule and on time, debrief him briefly, channel his energy and his charisma, write his speeches for him, teach him to say no comment and smile enigmatically. That is if he is smart enough and generous enough to let himself be guided.

But in the last few days he announced that Barack Hussein Obama was the founder of ISIS. He blurts this out, likes the reaction he gets, and runs with it. He does manage an explanation that Obama pulling troops out of Iraq so quickly left a vacuum that ISIS filled, then having strained his brain with someone else’s more complex explanation, he jumps back to the word “founder”.

Finally he relents, and tweets, “They don’t get sarcasm?”

So, we have another clue to the puzzle. He is only semi-literate. Calling Obama the founder of ISIS is not sarcasm. Sarcasm is saying, “That Obama, he sure made short work of ISIS.” It might have required a knowing smile and an “Eh? Eh?” at the end. That would be sarcasm. I wonder if he understands irony and double entendre and tongue-in-cheek.

So with his juvenile sentence structure, his limited vocabulary, and his failure to understand sarcasm, I have to conclude he is just not very smart.

So now we have ADD, semi-literacy, and room temperature IQ.

Even then, if he were a generous soul, a selfless soul, a man of great principle with an altruistic nature, he might be okay. Forrest Gump for president.

But there is more to this man as we know. He is insufferably narcissistic. His hair, his painted tan, his constant boasting, his angry reaction to any perceived slight.

And he is more than a little sociopathic. His empathy for others is very limited. His ability to anticipate the consequences of his words and actions is limited. He does not appear to suffer any doubts, any anxiety, nor any regrets. The fault always resides with others.

So there it is. A candidate for President who is:

  • Attention Deficit Disordered
  • Semi-literate
  • Not especially smart
  • Narcissistic
  • More than a little Sociopathic.

I do not want this man to have control over anything that might affect my life, my family, my city, my Province, my country, or my world.

Note: Writing the above, because I am a psychiatrist and Donald Trump is not my patient and has not given me permission – writing the above could be considered unethical. However, between a small ethical violation and the safety of the planet, the choice is simple.

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10 thoughts on “The Unfiltered Mind of Donald Trump – A Tentative Psychiatric Evaluation

  1. I am one of the many who has tried to come up with the puzzle of Donald Trump and what makes him tick. I had more or less come up with the same points as you Dr. Dawson I was shocked when some people who were high up in the Republican Party put out the view that once he had grabbed the nomination he would behave more presidential . It was obvious from the beginning that this leopard would not or cannot change his spots.

    Thank you for this article. I am still scared stiff that he might just pull off this con job. Many presidents have had flaws, but this potential president would be much too dangerous for the planet.

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    1. I think it is is irresponsible to throw out psychiatric diagnoses as you have done above. Because he blurts out insulting statements in no way means he has ADHD.
      I am not so sure his statements are blurted out. I think many of his statements are clearly pre-meditated. He reads the pulse of his crowd. If the audience is a certain group of hopefully fringe angry people then he will make his inappropriate inflammatory statement. There is a lot of evidence that he has a personality disorder. Narcissism and sociopathy tend to occur together. I think as a psychiatrist you have more not less responsibility for making diagnoses based on substantial evidence than other people.

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      1. Dr. Dawson did not “throw out” a psychiatric diagnoses. He offered a “tentative psychiatric evaluation”. His rational for arriving at his assessment was described in a straight forward and reasoned manner. At the end of his blog he gave a disclaimer saying that while writing about someone who is not your patient may be considered unethical, the threat Trump poses to the world demands that he be considered from a psychiatric perspective.

        Your statement, Dr Kessler, reminds me of the pot calling the kettle black. You are critical of Dr. Dawson for offering a tentative psychiatric diagnoses, but then you have turned around and stated “there is a lot of evidence he has a personality disorder” which appears like also offering a tentative psychiatric evaluation of Donald Trump.

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      2. ADHD by definition is a disorder that appears in early child childhood. It causes significant problems in learning.The disorder Impairs academic,social and occupational functioning. Mr Trump may be a racist, talk out of both sides of his mouth. He certainly has been successful in his real estate ventures. He is one of the most successful business people in the world.
        He owns prime real estate all over the world. He had the perserverance and intelligence to decisively defeat 17 other experienced politician’s in the Republican primaries. .Mr. Trump hosted successful prime time television programs. This does not sound like someone who has ADHD. Impulsiveness is a feature of many psychiatric disorders. He is the center of attention in his business ventures.
        Thiere is one symptom is what Dr.Ross bases his diagnosis on that one symptom. Whether he is impulsive or not the content of what Mr.Trump states always degrades others to bolster his own stature. When the polls supported him in the primaries as #1 that would feel great to as narcissistic personality disorder.Is Mr Trump pre occupied with ideas of unlimited power and success?Does he requires excessive admiration and becomes enraged when others fail to see him as specialMrTrump.lack empathy and is he interpersonally explotive?
        Yes I diagnosed Mr. Trump, but it was based on a constellation of symptoms that all fall under the diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The diagnosis of ADHD requires six symptoms to be present. Dr Ross mentioned one symptom impulsiveness.
        Finally, in Mr. Romney’s 2012 campaign. Mr. Trump gave a lot of money to Mr. Romney’s campaign. He thought he was going to speak at the Republican Convention of 2012. The way Mr Trump saw things was that they took his money, and at the last minute he was shut out of speaking at the Convention. This information is from an article in the New York Times Magazine it was at that point that Mr Trump began to talk with Republican advisors and insiders concerning how to start and run a campaign. The rejection by Mr Romney must have enraged him. .His rage combined with his fantasies of success and belief that he is special propelled him to run in the 2016 campaign.

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  2. Amusing, but I have far more concerns about Trump’s inept handlers than I do about Trump’s ability to handle any real world political issues. Then again that same concern can be voiced about Hillary Clinton’s handlers. After all, the handlers all work for the same boss, in the total scheme of things.

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  3. What is concerning for me is that the media are so straight faced when they discuss Trump. It is like their “professionalism” ‘trumps’ any ability to express genuine horror. People criticized Walter Cronkite for not being more opinionated about the horror of the war in Vietnam. Does the day in day out reporting of a horrible phenomenon make them immune to the reality of what they are reporting?

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  4. Could we start a letter to NORAD ? the commander-in-chief must not sleep well these days/
    The U;s has the second largest nuclear arsenal, and Trump has butter fingers….

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  5. Well, this piece of shit would NEVER be any more dangerous than any of the psychiatrists who are trying to staple their bullshit labels on his forehead. And we’re going to defeat him in the polls, anyway. Until we grow the balls to vote psychiatry’s EXCESSIVE power away, we need to keep on saying, loud and clear, that both Trump *and* his wannabe quacks are CRAY, CRAY, CRAY!

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  6. Have we forgotten the history lesson we learned when Hitler managed to grab popularity in Nazi Germany? He and his adherents created a hell on earth for millions of people within Germany and throughout the world.

    Surely we don’t want madness to rule again.

    Doctor Dawson is right to warn us of what could become another perilous doom for the world.

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