Health

Speech Experts Think Trump Suffers From Dementia

| by Alex Scarr

Experts have analyzed President Donald Trump's speech patterns over the recent months and compared them to interviews he gave as a private citizen in the 1990s, concluding that Trump may be exhibiting the early stages of dementia.

Researchers pored over old interviews that Trump gave to several late-night television hosts during his time as a real estate developer in New York City and compared those to his more recent speeches and interviews given as president, reports STAT.

What they found were sharp differences in sentence construction and word choice, specifically noting that the older Trump has opted for far simpler sentences with monosyllabic words.

STAT then asked experts in the fields of neurolinguistics and cognitive assessment, as well as psychologists and psychiatrists. Their task was to compare Trump’s speech from years-old interviews to what he's said 2017 --  all agreed there had been a deterioration in Trump's brain, perhaps pointing to the beginning stages of dementia.

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"There are clearly some changes in Trump as a speaker," said Ben Michaelis, a psychologist in New York. He said Trump's speech displays a “clear reduction in linguistic sophistication over time," with "simpler word choices and sentence structure ... In fairness to Trump, he’s 70, so some decline in his cognitive functioning over time would be expected."

Researchers gave several examples of Trump's warped sentence structure, including a snippet from a recent interview with NBC's Lester Holt.

"When I did this now I said, I probably, maybe will confuse people, maybe I’ll expand that, you know, lengthen the time because it should be over with, in my opinion, should have been over with a long time ago,” Trump said to Holt, according to a CNN transcript of the interview. Experts point out the lack of direction in the sentence and state that Trump often shifts course in thought mid-sentence.

But dementia as the root cause of Trump's recent speech patterns may be too presumptuous. One neuropsychologist suggested that Trump may be simplifying his speech to appeal to his voter base and other groups, or perhaps just might be feeling the crunch.

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"His language difficulties could be due to the immense pressure he’s under, or to annoyance that things aren't going right and that there are all these scandals," said University of Wisconsin neuropsychologist Sterling Johnson. "It could also be due to a neurodegenerative disease or the normal cognitive decline that comes with aging."

Trump is the oldest president to enter office, as he's just a few weeks shy of his 71st birthday. Ronald Reagan was elected at the age of 69, notes NPR.  

Sources: STAT, CNN, NPR / Photo credit: Michael Vadon/Flickr
 

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