Donald Trump May Have Dementia, Psychologist Says, Noting That Trump’s ‘Cognitive Deficits Seem Worse’

A psychologist and former Johns Hopkins University professor has published a major op-ed calling for a neurological evaluation of Donald Trump.

Donald Trump stares.
Alex Wong / Getty Images

A psychologist and former Johns Hopkins University professor has published a major op-ed calling for a neurological evaluation of Donald Trump.

A recent series of bizarre gaffes and weird misstatements — such as falsely insisting that his father was born in Germany rather than in New York City, as CNN recounted — have led to new questions about Donald Trump and his mental ability to perform the duties of his office effectively.

In fact, psychologist John Gartner suggested in a Tuesday op-ed published by USA Today, Trump may now be suffering from cognitive difficulties caused by dementia and that Trump’s “cognitive deficits seem worse” than one year ago.

Dementia is not a specific disease, though it is most frequently caused by the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, according to The Mayo Clinic. Instead, dementia is the label given to a set of symptoms that indicate a cognitive decline, including memory loss, difficulty communicating or “finding words,” difficulty with planning and organizing, and similar symptoms.

“If Donald Trump were your father, you would run, not walk, to a neurologist for an evaluation of his cognitive health,” write Gartner, in his USA Today op-ed.

“You don’t have to be a doctor to see something is very wrong.”

In addition to the misstatement about his father’s birthplace, Trump has had other unsettling slip-ups recently. In March, during a public meeting with Apple Computer CEO Tim Cook, Trump referred to Cook as “Tim Apple,” and later refused to admit that he had simply misspoken, insisting that he deliberately mangled Cook’s name “to save time and words,” according to CNBC.

Tim Cook sits with Donald Trump.
Donald Trump (r) referred to Apple Computer CEO Tim Cook (l) as ‘Tim Apple.’ Tom Brenner / Getty Images

“That was real cognitive slippage,” Gartner said, in an interview with HuffPost. “And then he tried to cover for it.”

In a similar incident last year, when Trump visited the northern California town of Paradise, California in the aftermath of a massive wildfire outbreak, per NBC News, the president twice referred to the town as “Pleasure,” even once commenting, “Pleasure, what a name!”

But those incidents could be dismissed as mere gaffes, Gartner said — except that in his book about the Trumps, White House Fire and Fury, author Michael Wolff described Trump as failing to recognize “a succession of old friends,” according to a Hollywood Reporter excerpt.

Gartner cited an article by Dementia Care International, stating that in the second stage of the condition, a “person may start to mix up relationships and generations.”

Another symptom of dementia, Gartner wrote, is “semantic paraphasia,” or choosing the wrong words. Trump may have exhibited that symptom, Gartner wrote, when he repeatedly attempted to question the “origins” of the investigation into the Russia collusion by Robert Mueller — using the word “oranges” instead, as The Week recounted.

“Americans have a right, indeed an urgent need, to know whether their president is suffering from dementia,” Gartner wrote on Tuesday.

“We see clear signs that he is, but the only way to find out for sure is to give him a full neuropsychological evaluation and share the results with the American public.”