Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Does Donald Trump Have Alzheimer's Disease? It's Very Likely

(Jabin Botsford/Post)
"The Alzheimer's stare" - readily seen in this image, as pointed out to me by my psychologist niece.

In the make believe, fake news Trumpian universe, Trump's presidency has thus far been exemplary with "more done in the first 120 days than any other",  and his problems "due to hysteria from a media out to get him" combined with a "rigged FBI investigation"  and "Democrats still angry from losing an election they should have won".  In the real universe, Trump is on the verge of impeachment after the latest revelations last night about wanting Comey to back off from going after Mike Flynn - leading to the larger Trump-Russian investigation.

We can, of course, argue all these points with Trumpies all day long, and get nowhere. But one thing even they can't deny - if they're the least bit sentient - is that Trump has blown up his own accounts and interests with missteps almost every step of the way. Some of these have been absolute howlers, such as controverting his own staff on the reason for the Comey firing in an interview with Lester Holt. All this damage we call self-inflicted or "unforced errors".  This has led to many who've been parsing Trump's actions and especially language to suspect he suffers from Alzheimer's disease.  It wouldn't be unusual after all, as we know the risk doubles every five years for those over age 65. Also, most significantly, his father Fred was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease six years before his death. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “age, family history and heredity” are the most important risk factors in developing the disease. Trump, at 70 years old, is the oldest president to take office. Moreover,  a recent analysis found he showed symptoms of age-related cognitive impairment.

The confirmed Trumpies (including Roger Stone who think the Alzheimer's associations amount to  a "conspiracy")  aren't going to like this but it is very possible the simplest explanation for Trump's recent inchoate, reckless actions is that he has Alzheimer's disease.  One is especially drawn to the regressed vocabulary he's used "great', "neat", "terrific" etc. which is observed in many older Alzheimer's patients who have suffered an erosion of their vocabularies, sometimes as much as 50 to 60 percent. I've observed such in my own sister-in-law Krimhilde, diagnosed two years ago, and earlier Janice's first cousin,  Desmond.
Before his retirement, ca. 1993, Desmond had been a proficient accountant - at the peak of his talents- with much success. That enabled him to retire early (age 62) and pursue the hobbies and interests that had always fascinated him, including: astronomy, cosmology, gardening and gourmet wines & cooking.

But eleven years into that idyllic era those around him noticed gradual degradation in his vocabulary and also increasingly impulsive behavior. Thus, he'd call friends, family at odd hours of the morning - like 3 or 4 a.m., then forget what he wanted to talk about. Even in those activities that interested him his memory slowly began to fade, along with the special terms he learned and used.

By the third year after diagnosis his vocabulary had taken a massive hit and he spoke more like a twelve year old then a highly educated retired accountant and amateur astronomer.  For example, he was unable to tell you the difference between an elliptical and circular orbit, and often confused dark energy with dark matter - two areas with which he was proficient in discussing five years earlier. As Kali Holloway - the blogger cited at the end of my previous post noted in respect of Trump's analogous verbal descent:

"Trump seems to have parallels in all these areas. He has become notorious for his word salads, incomprehensible soliloquies delivered at the speaking level of a fourth-grader. He frequently falls back on words like “tremendous” and often drags on without using specifics. Trump often speaks at length while saying nothing."

This exactly parallels Desmond by his fourth year with the disease.  By 2010 when Janice and I saw him for the last time, some 6 years after diagnosis, he could barely meet the language standard of a babbling baby.  A conversation on any topic for longer than two minutes was impossible. Trump, by all accounts, appears to be on the same trajectory though he's not at the "babbling baby"  phase yet.

Alex Leo of the Daily Beast transcribed one sentence Trump delivered at a campaign stop in South Carolina last year, manifesting as a series of dead ends, unfinished thoughts and odd ramblings:
"Look, having nuclear—my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes, OK, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart—you know, if you're a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, OK, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I'm one of the smartest people anywhere in the world—it's true!—but when you're a conservative Republican they try—oh, do they do a number—that's why I always start off: Went to Wharton, was a good student, went there, went there, did this, built a fortune—you know I have to give my, like, credentials all the time, because we're a little disadvantaged—but you look at the nuclear deal, the thing that really bothers me—it would have been so easy, and it's not as important as these lives are (nuclear is powerful; my uncle explained that to me many, many years ago, the power and that was 35 years ago; he would explain the power of what's going to happen and he was right—who would have thought?), but when you look at what's going on with the four prisoners—now it used to be three, now it's four—but when it was three and even now, I would have said it's all in the messenger, fellas, and it is fellas because, you know, they don't, they haven't figured that the women are smarter right now than the men, so you know, it's gonna take them about another 150 years—but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us."

This is almost a copy transcript of how Desmond's own train of thought and conversation had deteriorated two years prior to his total mental incapacitation and having to be moved into a special  care home. (A small comfy place but one in which he was often unable to locate the bathroom without assistance). 

Hell, don't take my word for these claims and conjectures,  given I'm as anti-Trump as it gets and want to see his ass removed from office.  Study  the clip below,

in which David Pakman shows how typical Trump bluster could actually be a sign of progressive dementia. Think this is an exaggeration or hype?  Try to recall  when Trump forgot which country he’d just bombed. (He said "Iraq", it was Syria.)  Also how it just slipped his mind to sign a pair of executive orders during an event created for that explicit purpose. And hey, how about when he couldn’t locate Rudy Giuliani, who was sitting directly across from him at a media briefing?  Look at any Alzheimer's symptom warning guide (such as from the Alzheimer's Association) and you will see those can't merely be chalked down to "senior moments". A "senior moment" is when you temporarily forgot where you placed your car keys, or the name of that actress in a recent movie you saw. It does NOT include being unable to locate a person sitting right freaking in front of you!

The firing of FBI director James Comey — and his public statements about the dismissal — even has some congressional Republicans reportedly worried about Trump’s “frame of mind". His earlier paranoid blaming of Obama for wiretapping him is right out of the Alzheimer's playbook - extreme irritation, anger and paranoid ideation, i.e. that someone or something is picking on the person or out to get him.   In the case of Desmond, he began to feel he was being watched by government officials and then later that they had planted small listening devices inside his Banyon Court apartment. Each morning he'd literally conduct 'sweeps' to try to find the infernal 'bugs'.   Later on in his deterioration, he took to collecting any and all sea shells he could find, fretting they might be used against him - as listening devices.  After collecting them he'd dig deep holes in the sand on Accra Beach and bury them.

If Donald Trump is suffering from Alzheimer's then the most humane solution is to cease beating up on him for what are really the manifestation of the disease symptoms. It is instead to initiate his removal from office under the  25th Amendment to the Constitution.   In that instance,  "the vice president, together with a “majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide” can remove the president for being “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  

If we wouldn't knowingly put an Alzheimer's sufferer into office we cannot in good conscience allow one to remain in office if he has been diagnosed with the disease. (Which means the suitable medical tests now need to be applied). We can't allow Trump to endure the daily pressures in office - given all that is at stake - including the ability to make sound judgments in critical situations and crises. And yes, that is a matter of national security.

See also:

1 comment:

James Franklin said...

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