President Trump’s interview this week with the New York Times made headlines for his revelation that he would never have chosen Jeff Sessions as attorney general if he had known Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Here at STAT, however, we combed through the transcript of the Oval Office interview for something else: examples of the emotional subtexts that psychiatrists and psychologists told us offer a window into the president’s mind.

Overall, Trump was more articulate than he has been in some recent appearances, an important reminder than his tortured syntax might reflect not mental decline but emotional stress: He seemed comfortable with the reporters. Nevertheless, the workings of Trump’s mind, as inferred by experts who have described their observations to STAT since January, shone through. “Most of the now-familiar Trumpian patterns are here,” said psychologist John Montgomery of New York University. Among them:

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  • As I commented to the NYT after I fully read Mike Schmidt’s revealing golf course interview of the Trumpster Dumpster:

    “Any serious analysis of Emperor/president Trump’s quotes in the
    NYT interview are clearly analogous to the following discussion
    between Gen. Turgidson (George Scott) and President Muffley (Peter
    Sellers) in the 1964 Kubrick anti-war film “Dr. Strangelove”:

    Turgidson:

    General Ripper called Strategic Air Command headquarters shortly
    after he issued the go code. I have a partial transcript of that
    conversation if you’d like me to read it.

    Muffley:

    Read it.

    Turgidson:

    The duty officer asked General Ripper to confirm the fact the he
    had issued the go code and he said, “Yes gentlemen, they are on
    their way in and no one can bring them back. For the sake of our
    country and our way of life, I suggest you get the rest of SAC in
    after them, otherwise we will be totally destroyed by red
    retaliation. My boys will give you the best kind of start, fourteen
    hundred megatons worth, and you sure as hell won’t stop them now.
    So let’s get going. There’s no other choice. God willing, we will
    prevail in peace and freedom from fear and in true health through the
    purity and essence of our natural fluids. God bless you all.” Then
    he hung up. We’re still trying to figure out the meaning of that
    last phrase, sir.

    Muffley:

    There’s nothing to figure out General Turgidson. This man is
    obviously a psychotic.

  • There is a real justification for an alternative to the existing right wing media Cartel. It is a fact that the largest part of the world’s media is owned by right wing capitalists. Their intention is to spread the cause of capitalism and increase the planet’s differentials between rich and hardship. Left Insider provides left wing articles from reputable sites such as Red Pepper and Buzz Feed etc. We all own the birthright to maximise our own qualities and we all have the obligation to help others achieve theirs.

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  • Bipolar disorder could be a component, but the longitudinal analysis of syntactical deterioration mentioned in NYT has a firm basis in theory, based on work first published in 1957 (Noam Chomsky, MIT philosophy) on human brain linguistic ‘syntactical structures’ that distinguish homo sapiens from other primates and mammals generally. Mature humans normally can communicate an infinite variety of concepts (up to the limits of cognition, intelligence and imagination) by concatenating nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions, etc., in an intrinsically meaningful way- this is the deep genetic structure of human language, regardless of dialect. If over decades a steep decline in syntactical sophistication is documented, neuronal causes are suspect. All brains likely lose functional capacity in senior years, but very active minds demonstrate a high degree of neuroplasticity- the ability of adjacent neurons to detect a blocked signal pathway and “take over” the agency of sending the blocked or delayed electro-chemical signal to the destination cell. Some biopsied brains of known active thinkers show considerable ameloid plaque formation but no empirical evidence of mental decline prior to death; this is thought to be due to an abundance of neural pathways to keep the cognitive activity intact. In the article’s study , the above mechanisms don’t apply.

  • Thanks Sharon,

    A very Iinteresting and poignant article.

    Although I find President Trumps behaviour far more Machiavellian than Narcistic. The summary of syntactical speech structure was particually interesting.

    Well done from… Melbourne, Australia.

  • This article was very helpful in identifyingprofessional explanations relative to President Trump’s conversation style. To me, his childlike syntax demonstrates how he must have felt as a child, not ‘listened to, validated, and nurtured’ in the way he needed to be to develop healthy self-esteem. I can only wonder when, and if, President Trump’s house of cards will tumble, thus giving America the chance it needs to get back on track again in all the ways that matter for the betterment of the people who call this wonderful country home.
    Thank you.

  • Remember President Reagan’s showdown meeting with his cabinet when he was showing episodes of Alzheimer’s confusion and forgetfulness. They were going to force him to step down from office, but he became articulate and convincing during the meeting that his mental function was good. Later he was totally without cognitive sufficiency. Early onset comes in waves; what I see here is a train-wreck about to happen. Hope I’m wrong, but doubt it.

  • What a wonderful article. It provides a lot of clarity and insight into the President and confirms what I have suspected.

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