It is clear that when Donald Trump speaks extemporaneously, he goes off at weird tangents and finds it hard to sustain a coherent train of thought, meandering all over the place, laced with non-sequiturs. A retired speech pathologist says that when you analyze his speeches and compare them with the way he spoke long ago, that it is clear that he has a serious language disorder called aphasia.
A deficit in expressing and/or understanding language is called aphasia. The term is most often used in diagnosing people who were not born with the disorder, but who acquire it later in life. Aphasia can be caused by a head injury, a stroke or as a part of a more significant cognitive decline in older adults.
One aspect of aphasia impacts a person’s expressive language. This is the kind of language disorder that is more obvious to those who interact with the affected patient. The person struggles to say what they mean. They may have difficulties in expressing ideas logically and specifically They might be seen to be searching for the right word as they speak. Many aphasic people develop an overreliance on empty words and phrases. I have known patients who included a favorite phrase or two into nearly every sentence spoken, as the rote language makes it easier to get out a full thought.
Some aphasic people make up words when they can’t find the one they need. The new word might or might not sound similar to the one that is missing.
Many people with what we call “fluent aphasia” can string together a long series of words that seem to make sense until you realize that there isn’t much content there. There are lots of pronouns and adjectives, but not enough nouns to make the meaning clear.
She then goes on to analyze in detail some of Trump’s public utterances and arrives at this conclusion.
Whether or not Trump’s language disorder is progressive is difficult to say, but when I analyze his conversations from years ago, I believe that it is. His past interviews were far more coherent and much more linguistically sophisticated than what we hear now.
Whether or not the language disorder is developing as part of some type of dementia is up to a neurologist to diagnose.
I am not qualified to say whether or not Donald Trump has a personality disorder or a mental illness. But I am qualified to say that when I listen to him speak, I am increasingly convinced that he has significant aphasia.
This would not be the first time that the US has had a president with a serious impairment. There were suspicions that Ronald Reagan’s dementia began during his second term in office but that his staff managed to cover it up. But Reagan was reportedly easy-going in his personal interactions and thus more easily convinced to go along with his staff and family’s guidance.
With Trump we have an arrogant and egotistical person who would bridle and lash out at any attempts to tell him what to do.