President Donald Trump's bizarre and outlandish behavior has prompted a lot of speculation about his psychological state -- and what role his parents played in shaping his peculiar personality.
Trump's own mother pondered the question herself, according to a new Politico Magazine profile that examines the president's upbringing and relationship with his parents.
“What kind of son have I created?” wondered Mary Trump in an interview from 1990, when the future president was divorcing his first wife and faced ruinous debt.
Politico interviewed some of Trump's childhood friends and business associates, as well as some psychologists, to get a sense of the relationship between him and his mother -- whom the president rarely mentions.
“You don’t have to be Freud or Fellini to interpret this,” said Mark Smaller, former president of the American Psychoanalytic Association.
Another former president of that organization told Politico that children learn crucial traits -- trust, security and a sense of reality -- from a so-called "ordinary, devoted mother."
“Your mother helps you identify your feelings and develop a cognitive structure so you don’t have to act on them immediately," said former APA president Prudence Gourguechon, "and I think it’s fair to say that the capacity for empathy develops through your maternal relationship.”
Trump's mother, who died at 88 in 2000, was a dignified but distant figure in his childhood, according to friends from that time.
“When I would play with Donald, his father would be around and watch him play," said childhood friend Mark Golding. "His mom didn’t interact in that way."
Mary Trump gave birth to five children between 1937 and 1948, and she nearly died from severe hemorrhaging and an abdominal infection after the birth of her youngest son, Robert, when Donald was a toddler.
“A 2½-year-old is going through a process of becoming more autonomous, a little bit more independent from the mother,” Smaller told Politico. “If there is a disruption or a rupture in the connection, it would have had an impact on the sense of self, the sense of security, the sense of confidence.”
Trump's mother was forced to withdraw from family life as she recovered from the infection and four emergency surgeries, and one expert said that experience could have made a crucial impact on the future president.
“From a child’s perspective, they’ve experienced the withdrawal of a mothering figure," said psychiatrist Leonard Cruz, author of A Clear and Present Danger: Narcissism in the Era of President Trump. "It might evoke ways of acting that are increasingly bombastic and attention-seeking. The child becomes almost exaggerated in the ways they try to court attention.”
“I’m not speaking specifically about Donald Trump,” he added, “but boy … ”