Trump – understanding the pathology

Trump 1992 on CNN
Trump 1992 on CNN

The strangeness that is Trump seems an endless topic of conversation. Several months ago I wondered about early signs of dementia in “Is Trump Showing Signs of Ageing?” Ongoing I have wondered about his weird speech patterns. Over the last day I have come on three sources that shed further light on his pathology, well beyond the obvious pathologies of narcissism, self-aggrandizement, and endless lying.

Number 1Why the Trump Transcripts Are So Maddening to Read by Michael Erard in The Awl. Mr. Erard is a writer and linguist. He provides an interesting take on the structure of Trump’s language.

This is the talking of someone with power, the sort of power that doesn’t come from consensus-building and organizing. We don’t really need a transcript to tell us this, but it’s there. Trump talks to occupy space and run down the clock. He’s prompted to speak by a question but rarely answers the question; he only has to talk long enough to execute his turn in the conversation before the questioner wrests it away. That’s the extent of the coherence. Otherwise, he cajoles, he lies, he brags, he cuts down, and the effect on the transcript reader is nowhere near what Trump can have intended.

Number 2: Then, I came upon this YouTube video of a speech by Tony Schwartz the writer behind The Art of the Deal, the best-selling paean to Trump the bullshitting business tycoon. Schwartz has more exposure to the workings of Trump than probably any human alive. 30 years ago while writing this book at Trump’s behest, he spent a year spending almost every day listening to Trump’s business conversations, then interviewing the people with whom Trump was doing business. This provided him with an in depth view of Trump’s values and methods.

A telling example of Trump the solipsism was Schwartz noting that in the years he worked so closely with Trump on the book Trump never learned Schwartz’s wife’s name nor the fact that he has two children.

The speech was at Oxford Union last Fall before the election. It is mostly a telling commentary on Trump but partly an apology Dior his role in creating Trump the public spectacle and now menace. “Tony Schwartz: The Truth about Trump”


Number 3: If you don’t have the hour to listen to Tony Schwartz there is an excellent piece about him by Jane Mayer from Spring 2016 in the New Yorker. It covers much the same territory as the Oxford Union speech.

Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All” June 25, 2016 in the New Yorker Magazine by Jane Mayer.

Number 3a: Then, don’t miss the inevitable: DONALD TRUMP THREATENS THE GHOSTWRITER OF “THE ART OF THE DEAL” again by Jane Mayer July 20, 2016 in the New Yorker Magazine.