For nearly 30 years, I was a licensed, certified speech/language pathologist. I spent hours analyzing the expressive language of my patients. I’m retired now, without a license, but I haven’t forgotten what I did every day.
I watched Donald Trump give a thank-you speech after the Republican nomination last night. I haven’t examined Donald Trump, but let me explain why I think he has either a language disorder, or another neurological problem.
1. Word Finding; Misusing Words
The first thing I’ve noticed with Trump is that he tends to slightly misuse words. In speech/language pathology, this is called a word finding issue. In the current speech, Trump began by calling the Convention as a beautiful event. He complimented the speakers, saying:
“So many of the speakers were so amazing and really ground setting. Just ground setting.”
Clearly he meant “ground breaking,” but he didn’t notice.
Later he said that former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) people “swamped” Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.). He seemed to mean that they mistreated him, which isn’t what “swamped” means.
2. Word Finding; Empty Words
People with word finding deficits rely on words with little meaning. They use phrases like “by the way,” or “believe me.” They depend heavily on empty words like “really” and “very,” and use a restricted list of adjectives. Trump uses the words “tremendous,””amazing,” and “nice,” none of which tells us anything.
People with this disorder repeat themselves a lot.
A small sample from today:
“Thank you very much. We had an amazing convention. It was one of the best. […] Ivanka was incredible last night.[…] It has been just an incredible four days.[…] Tiffany was amazing.”
“So, I will tell you, I think we’re gonna get a lot of his voters. Because of the trade issue. Because they understand. Because of the trade issue, I think we’re gonna get a lot of his voters.”
3. Expressive Language Organization
To speech/language pathologists, this means expressing one thought. It means beginning a thought and getting to the end. Trump speaks in sentence fragments. He begins a thought, but drops it and simply jumps ahead.
“Honestly, he should have done it. Because….nobody cares. And he would have been in better shape for four years from now if he’s … I don’t think … I don’t see him winning frankly anyway.
4. Maintaining The Topic
Many people with this issue often have attentional issues. If you know anyone with ADHD you’ve experienced this problem.
Every phrase Trump utters reminds him of something else. He jumps off his current track and follows another.
Here just one example:
“If I don’t win, meaning that final stage, we beat 17 people, it was actually 17 because there’s one that we don’t even talk about, who joined who left very quickly. One statement, he was gone, OK? And then don’t forget, Hillary had a couple of guys that dropped out and then Bernie ran a good campaign…”
I’m not qualified to address whether Donald Trump has narcissistic personality disorder, but I can address the circularity of his language. No matter what he starts with, Trump manages to turn the topic in two ways. He always brings it back to self-praise. Equally worrisome is that he also consistently turns it back to his rivals or perceived enemies.
“First of all the Secret Service is unbelievable.[…] Let me tell you, these guys are fantastic. I’m the best thing that ever happened to the Secret Service.”
“Thanks, Brian! What a job you’ve done, Brian! […] Hillary’s trying to pick her Vice President as fast as possible because she wants to take away some of the success we’ve had.”
Watch this video, and keep the language and attention issues in mind.
This is a scary situation.
Featured image via Facebook