A psychiatrist explains why Trump’s obsession with a Joe Scarborough murder conspiracy might be a sign of dementia
President Donald Trump speaks during a change of command ceremony at Coast Guard Headquarters. (Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Patrick Kelley)

President Donald Trump's unrelenting attacks on MSNBC host Joe Scarborough could be evidence of cognitive decline, according to Dr. John M. Talmadge, a psychiatrist and professor at a major American medical school.


Trump has urged law enforcement to re-examine the 2001 death of Lori Klausutis, an aide to Scarborough. The president continues to push an unfounded conspiracy theory that the MSNBC host -- who was a Republican congressman at the time -- was somehow responsible for her death.

According to the Associated Press, "an autopsy revealed that Klausutis had an undiagnosed heart condition and a coroner concluded she passed out and hit her head as she fell."

Talmadge has long used Twitter to express his concern about what he sees as the president's deteriorating mental condition. The psychiatrist views Trump's latest obsession with Scarborough as another sign that Trump might be suffering from dementia.

Talmadge told Raw Story that narcissism and other personality traits likely play a role in Trump’s attacks on Scarborough.

“Politicians are universally narcissistic, self-centered, and to some extent ill-mannered. Charles Krauthammer, M.D., the legendary columnist (and psychiatrist!) and Fox contributor, had an entire talk on the subject of Obama’s narcissism. Charles and I discussed Obama at least a half dozen times over the years,” he said.

“It’s very easy, then, to attribute bad behavior and stupid ideas to a politician’s personality disorder rather than — as in Trump’s case — a more serious brain disease.”

Talmadge also said that Trump has displayed an “obsessed with sex, power, fame, and an insatiable need for adoration” for most of his adult life.

“Because Trump is by nature such a bad actor, such a born criminal, and such an untrustworthy person, the natural tendency is to blame his character defects for all of his bullshit, calf splatter, and despicable behavior — as well as his unforgivable errors in judgment and poor impulse control,” he explained.

But Trump’s personality isn’t the only factor behind some of his unusual behaviors.

“Ordinary bullshitters and mediocre criminal types don’t make the types of unforced errors that Trump makes almost on a daily basis. He lost the ability to think strategically or conceptually. This is why he talks AT people, never WITH people. He cannot grasp basic ideas like compromise, justice, well-being, spirituality, or any other abstraction,” Talmadge said.

“Ask him about his strategy for Afghanistan, or his thoughts about resolving the healthcare crisis, and he will tell a 'Sir' story and bullshit about something unrelated to the question. He does it every time. He did not do this in interviews 20 years ago. He wasn’t bright or exceptionally articulate, but he could answer a question in plain English, with at least a high school vocabulary.“

On Twitter, Talmadge frequently posts an image describing the symptoms of dementia:

“When you go over the checklist in the graphic, you’ll see that there are countless examples of every item. This is one reason that I started posting long excerpts from his briefings, statements, and rally splatters. One could quite literally write a book. The working press tends to sanitize his speeches and quotations, and this leaves me astonished,” Talmadge told Raw Story.

Trump has faced a backlash from some of his fellow Republicans, as well as conservative publications such as the Wall Street Journal and National Review. But there is no indication that the president will stop his attacks on Scarborough.

“Specifically with regard to his ‘obsession’ about Joe Scarborough, it’s quite common in dementia for the affected individual to seize upon emotionally charged material, in this case his hatred of Joe & Mika. He does this with Congressman Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, and others -- it’s always about rage, grievance, and high emotion,” Talmadge said.

“At the same time, he selectively ignores his own behavior (often worse) as well as the behavior of people like the criminals surrounding him: Manafort, Cohen, Flynn, and others. His inability to reason or problem-solve leaves him treating Kim and Putin like comic book heroes. It’s curious and bizarre, but that’s what happens in dementing illnesses.”

“That all of this is brain related is evident in his angry outbursts at the working press, particularly women, and particularly women of color. An intelligent, normal man would think through his strategies for handling criticism, opposition, and attacks. A normal executive would look at the disapprobation heaped upon Clinton, Bush, and Obama, some of which was nuclear in intensity, and take a lesson in strategy. Trump is quite literally incapable of learning anything. His brain is broken,” Talmadge concluded.