Donald Trump: Mental Health

Personality disorder (introduction)
Trump's mental status has generated analyses and opinions from his co-workers SEE BELOW, from mental health professionals MORE including his niece (Dr. Mary L. Trump), and from Dr. Zebra, who was driven by the events of 2020 to significantly revise his diagnosis MORE.

The current assessments (January 2021) from Dr. Trump and Dr. Zebra are below. Update 2023 -- Trump's post-presidency legal embroilments solidify the diagnostic discussion that follows.

It is not easy to assess the mental state of Donald Trump. Dr. Zebra reminds himself of the singular nature of Mr. Trump by keeping in mind some of the more memorable characterizations of him he's encountered, e.g.:
  • [1950s] He "as a boy threw cake at kids at parties and erasers at his teachers at his private elementary school, [so he was sent] first to Sunday morning Bible classes, like his siblings -- and then, unlike his siblings, to a stringent military academy an hour and a half upstate shortly after he turned 13." 1
  • [1997] "An existence unmolested by the rumbling of a soul." 2
  • [2006+] "Being around Mr. Trump was intoxicating. When you were in his presence, you felt like you were involved in something greater than yourself -- that you were somehow changing the world." 3
  • [2011] His "loud, over-the-top, ... Ronco Veg-o-Matic, everyone's-a-mark, carny-barker, hard-sell" 4
  • [2017] "As President Donald Trump began his inaugural address, a cold rain began to fall. A few hours later, Trump claimed the rain had not begun to fall." 5
  • [2017] His "bellow and banter cycles" 6.
  • [2017] He "could not handle watching the news without seeing himself on it" 6.
  • [2017] His repeated claims, for example, that he actually won the popular vote -- is immutable and has had a "numbing effect" on people who work with him, said Tony Schwartz, his ghostwriter on The Art of the Deal 7. "He wears you down," Mr. Schwartz said. 6 (The 2020 election provides an excellent example of this, in Trump's one-hour telephone harangue of election officials in Georgia 8. In this call, Trump's playbook is clearly to repeat repeat repeat to grind down the principled disagreement from the officials.)
It is, however, inaccurate to speak of him as completely soulless. He speaks of his dead brother with emotion, and when meeting with families of American military casualties, those with small children strike him particularly hard -- to the point that he would make up things, soothing things, in talking to the families 9a.

Among the psychological and psychiatric labels applied by his allies are:

  • Narcissism -- Staff Secretary Rob Porter 9b
  • "... his erratic nature, relative ignorance, his inability to learn..." -- notes of a senior White House official, summarizing views of other senior officials, July 2017 9c
  • "He's just a moron." -- Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, in July 2017 9d
  • "Zero psychological ability to recognize empathy or pity in any way." -- Reince Priebus, the President's Chief of Staff, July 2017 9e
  • "We have a leader who has a personality disorder." -- former Senator Tom Coburn, MD (Republican-Oklahoma), October 2017 10
  • "Whatever bad happened, no matter what it was, it was always against him, always directed at him. He would say, `Why does everything always happen to me?' ... It was as if the world revolved around him. Everything that happened had an effect on him, good or bad." -- Barbara Res (Trump Organization executive) 11
  • Acted like, and had the geopolitical understanding of, "a fifth or sixth grader." -- James Mattis, Secretary of Defense, January 2018 9f
  • "He's a professional liar." -- Gary Cohn, ex-President of Goldman Sachs and Chief Economic Advisor to the President, in March 2018 9g
  • "A f*cking liar." -- John Dowd, personal attorney to Trump during Mueller investigation, March 2018 9h
  • "A conman." -- Michael Cohen, longtime personal attorney, February 2019 3
  • Although wonderful to play golf with, is a shameless cheater 12. (There is an entire book about this 13!)
Comment: The remarkable vituperativeness of these statements is pertinent. Even a man like Warren Harding, who freely admitted that the presidency was beyond his mental abilities, provoked only half-piercing put downs from sharp-tongued critics like Alice Roosevelt Longworth, who wrote: "Harding was not a bad man. He was just a slob." 14a
Cited Sources
  1. Kruse, Michael. The Mystery of Mary Trump. (Published November/December 2017. Downloaded on 2019-12-06.) Available on the web:
  2. Singer, Mark. Trump Solo. New Yorker. 12 May 1997.

    Comment: This remark is especially notable for pre-dating Trump's involvement in partisan politics. Available on the web at:

  3. Cohen, Michael. Testimony of Michael D. Cohen. U.S. House Of Representatives. Committee On Oversight And Reform. February 27, 2019.
  4. Hedegaard, Erik. Donald Trump Lets His Hair Down. (Published 13 May 2011. Downloaded on 2019-12-24.) Available on the web:
  5. Grunwald, Michael. Donald Trump Is a Consequential President. Just Not in the Ways You Think. (Published Dec. 30, 2017. Downloaded on 2019-12-26.) Available on the web:
  6. Haberman, Maggie; Thrush, Glenn; Baker, Peter. The President's Periodic Physical Exam. (Published Dec. 9, 2017. Downloaded on 2018.) Available on the web:
  7. Trump, Donald J.; Schwartz, Tony. Trump: The Art of the Deal. New York: Random House, 1987.
  8. Gardner, Amy and Firozi, Paulina. Here's the full transcript and audio of the call between Trump and Raffensperger. (Published 3 Jan. 2021. Downloaded on 2021-01-05.) Available on the web:
  9. Woodward, Bob. Fear: Trump in the White House. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018.
    a  p.75  b  p.166  c  p.226  d  p.227. Date is extrapolated from the book's report that this statement occurred near the time Tillerson attended a Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia. A similar comment (on page 225) is less delicately phrased.  e  p.235  f  p.308. This was after a contentious principals-only meeting of the National Security Council.  g  p.338  h  pp. 353, 357. Woodward does not characterize this as a spoken comment but as something Dowd "knew to be true." Presumably Dowd had told Woodward this -- it is the final sentence of Woodward's book.
  10. Martin, Jonathan; Peters, Jeremy W. As G.O.P. Bends Toward Trump, Critics Either Give In or Give Up. (Published Oct. 25, 2017. Downloaded on 2019-12-03.) Available on the web:
  11. Parker, Ashley; Rucker, Philip; Dawsey, Josh. Trump the victim: President complains in private about the pandemic hurting him. Washington Post. 2020 July 10.   Available on the web at:
  12. Terris, Ben. Does Donald Trump cheat at golf? A Washington Post investigation. (Published 4 September 2015. Downloaded on 2019-12-01.) Available on the web:
  13. Bonesteel, Matt. Rick Reilly wrote a book about Trump cheating at golf. Now he's challenging him to a match. (Published 2 April 2019. Downloaded on 2019-12-01.) Available on the web:
  14. Longworth, Alice Roosevelt. Crowded Hours. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1933.
    a  p.325

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