The awkward debate around Trump’s mental health has been around even before he became the President of the United States. The issue got so intense that Trump had to get screened for dementia. This might have been a source of embarrassment for others, but Trump has turned it into a ‘vote for me’ slogan.
US President Donald Trump has been in the public eye for a long time. He was a real-estate mogul, businessman and TV personality before becoming a politician. He gave an interview to The New Yorker in the late 1990s where journalist Mike Singer asked him “What are you thinking about when you are shaving in front of the mirror in the morning?” Singer noticed that the future President seemed baffled which led him to reframe his question.
“O.K., I guess I’m asking, do you consider yourself ideal company?” “You really want to know what I consider ideal company?” Trump replied. “A total piece of ass.”
Trump’s knowledge of issues, his inflammatory language, his level of comfort with political violence have raised many eyebrows since and before his election and many have often wondered exactly how his mind works.
The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump
Trump’s personality is extreme by any standard. He was an unusual candidate and has had an even unusual term in office. Many around Trump including his White House advisors have publicly raised concerns about him and his ability to make sound decisions.
In 2017, the same year Trump assumed office, a group of 27 mental health experts published the book ‘The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump’. The book categorizes Trump as a “pathological narcissist” – delusional and suffering from “paranoid ideation”, lacking conscience and empathy and exhibiting “most destructive and dangerous collection psychiatric symptoms”.
It is important to note that APA guidelines state that it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion over a public figure’s mental health unless they have examined that person.
Tweet and Test
The President’s mental health was becoming the headlines for every news channel. In response, Trump tweeted that he is smart and genius and apparently a very stable genius. The concerns got so intense that Trump had to take a cognitive assessment test. Apparently, he aced it and hasn’t stopped talking about it ever since.
The test is called the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) and was created by the neurologist Dr Ziad Nasreddine in 1996. Nasreddine has said that the test “is supposed to be easy for someone who has no cognitive impairment”, saying that “this is not an IQ test or the level of how a person is extremely skilled or not. The test is supposed to help physicians detect early signs of Alzheimer’s.” Despite this, Trump has repeatedly called himself a genius on the basis of this test. The rhetoric continues to grow as we near the elections.
The Trump Card
President Trump, as widely opined in media, is a post-truth politician who has the skillset to turn the tables on widespread skepticism on his cognitive abilities Just this last week, Trump did two interviews with Fox News and gave a considerable amount of time to stressing that he did not have dementia. “Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV.” is a quote from the President of the United States talking about the test in the interview followed by “It’s actually not that easy,” Trump said. “But for me it was easy.”
The President has now gone all out and challenged, Joe Biden, his rival for the Presidential elections to take the same test. He has said that the Democratic nominee will be never able to pass the test. In reply, Biden scoffed at the idea, suggesting the incumbent has a problem differentiating between animals.
Trump’s term has seen several instances of unsettling comments over his mental state. The critics have grown louder with the pandemic unleashing hell on the US. Nevertheless, the reply from the White House to Biden’s scoff is awaited.