Is it time to openly suggest that Donald Trump is insane?

That Donald Trump in incompetent and ignorant and his behavior is erratic goes without saying. The only consistent theme in is his self-centeredness and his willingness to be vindictive towards anyone whom he sees as not sufficiently fawning over him. And yet there seems to be hard core of his supporters, including pretty much the entire Republican party establishment, that is willing to follow him into whatever swamp he chooses to wade into. It is tempting to think that he is just a shrewd judge of certain kinds of people and that he behaves in this way because he knows that is what they want.

But David Masciotra argues that we may be giving him too much credit and that the evidence that Trump is suffering from serious mental degeneration is so clear that it is obvious even to lay people and that it is only our reticence to level such a charge at a president that enables society to pretend otherwise. It is always dangerous for even mental health professionals to diagnose insanity without closely examining the patient but Masciotra thinks that in Trump’s case, the indicators are so obvious that that caution can be dispensed with.

It becomes increasingly evident, with Trump’s every social media post, public utterance and policy directive, that our president suffers from a severe form of mental illness. His insanity threatens millions of lives, and has become particularly dangerous during the most devastating public health crisis in the last 100 years.

The reality that is too painful and frightening for many Americans to confront is that the wealthiest and most militarily powerful country in the world, during a pandemic, is under the leadership of someone who is certifiably nuts.

In December of 2019, 350 mental health professionals co-signed a letter to Congress stating that Donald Trump’s “deteriorating mental health” constituted a “threat to the safety of our nation.” It was merely a month later that Trump would begin to ignore multiple warnings regarding the coming COVID-19 epidemic, repeatedly announcing at rallies and on Twitter that media coverage of the virus amounted to a “hoax,” and making bizarre, unscientific statements that the potential pandemic would “go away like a miracle.”

In their cowardice, weakness and lack of imagination, the White House correspondents, the networks and publications they represent, and most Democratic officials offer a hideous illustration of “malignant normality.”

Most journalists, adhering to an institutional decorum that might have been appropriate during the Carter administration, ask Trump a question and then dutifully take notes while he blusters through an illiterate response.

Lenore Taylor, an editor with Guardian Australia, offered a reasonable perspective on Trump last year that still eludes her American peers. After attending a White House press conference, she wrote that she realized “how much the reporting of Trump necessarily edits and parses his words, to force it into sequential paragraphs or impose meaning where it is difficult to detect,” and concluded that most of journalism “masks and normalizes his full and alarming incoherence.”

A recent profile in the New Yorker of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell quoted a staffer as claiming that behind closed doors McConnell has described Trump as “nuts.” Democrats should demand to know if the Republican Senate mastermind truly believes that the president is impaired, and force McConnell to choose between yet more lies and the future of his country.

Democrats should also get over their concerns about angering Trump supporters. Anyone who continues to applaud Trump’s weird and reckless disregard for humanity at this point is beyond the limit of rational persuasion. Trump supporters live in a hallucinatory dreamscape under the authority of a maniac. Let them have their anti-social distancing rallies, and allow them to believe that Barack Obama invented COVID-19 shortly after he was born in Kenya.

Rational Americans need to stop enabling this abusive and deranged presidency. Declare Donald Trump insane and, at long last, bring an end to our era of malignant normality.

Trump’s lies are so brazen that it is now common for politicians and the media to talk about him lying, a word that would not have been used in days gone by but replaced by euphemisms. Is it only a matter of time before they start openly questioning his sanity instead of just whispering it behind closed doors?


  1. Who Cares says

    My question is can cognitive dissonance do what is happening to Trump?
    Why am I asking? He revealed himself to be such a narcissist that he tries to bend reality to what he demands reality to be (see the hurricane sharpie debacle). And that is just not possible with a lot of things on the level he is at.

  2. jrkrideau says

    @ 3 Who Cares
    My question is can cognitive dissonance do what is happening to Trump?


    Perhaps to expand a bit on my answer, Trump’s behaviour patterns, his incessant lying and contradicting of facts and his speech patterns all indicate more serious problems, much more serious problems.

    It is much more likely that we are dealing with a poorly educated person with a serious case of narcissism combined with what looks suspiciously likely to be the on-set of dementia.

    I could easily be mistaken but I think narcissism subsumes sociopathy or psychopathy.

    Caligula starting to sound like a better leader.

  3. jrkrideau says

    Donald Trump is insane?
    Just quibbling terminology.

    I’m not sure that Trump is actually insane in the legal sense.

    In a psychological or medical sense, we should probably consider him completely incompetent to function in the position he holds. Or more informally, we might say that “He should not let out without a keeper “.

  4. says

    It is instructive to listen to Trump making depositions in the late 90s versus today. Clearly he has declined mentally. Is it amphetamines or dementia or both? Who cares? He’s always been an asshole and his cognitive impairment has made him fall back on his core competency, which is being a jerk-cum-jackass. He was unfit to be president when he was elected; it’s not as though this is a sudden revelation. The guy’s off his rocker.

  5. Just an Organic Regular Expression says

    I look forward with anticipation and some dread to the inevitable Presidential Debates. In this highly unusual election year, when it is unlikely there will be large campaign events in different cities, the debates may be the critical moments of the campaign. And it is precisely in the high pressure, very public venue of a televised debate, that Trump may crack and literally babble like a crazy person.

    I expect that his Republican committee handlers, anticipating that possibility, will work very hard to minimize the number of debates, and to modify the debate formats to put less pressure on the candidate. Just the same, it should take very little needling by his opponent to set him off. If the consequences weren’t so dire, I’d be looking forward to this.

  6. publicola says

    @9: I don’t know; my inclination is to agree, but Il Duce’s pathological narcissism makes him believe he’s the smartest guy on the planet, and that he can wipe anyone’s ass in any debate. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

  7. jrkrideau says

    @ 9 Marcus
    Given the little I have seen of Biden, Trump would have to be even crazier than he is not to debate.

  8. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    At Marcus pointed out, it’s not just severe narcissism. There is clear cognitive decline over the past 20-30 years. He used to be able to form coherent sentences and thoughts, and now he’s borderline incapable of speaking English in an intelligible aka understandable fashion. Remember that his father suffered from Alzheimer’s. It’s quite plausible that Trump is pretty far along with Alzheimer’s, just like “Saint Ronald”.

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