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Trump Says He Has The Best Words, But What Do They Mean?

Even before he took office, people have been asking me how Trump’s mind works. A campaign rally speech in Ohio on October 12 clearly illustrates his mental process. Trump veers off script in all his rallies. The crowd’s energy provides fertile soil to his unconscious and words spring forth spontaneously, replicating and expanding from his TelePrompTer script.
 
In one section of his remarks, Trump cited famous aviators from Ohio, noting that the state “gave us Neil Armstrong.” Trump continued, musing, “ He’s the man that planted the flag – think of that – on the face of the moon. There was no kneeling, there was no nothing, there was no games, boom.”
 
Pundits and comics scratched their heads as to why Trump conflated Armstrong’s planting the flag on the moon with his displeasure about kneeling NFL players. But any psychiatrist who ever worked in a psychiatric hospital could explain this: it’s called a “clang association.” As Trump said the name “Neil,” it summoned the word “kneeling” to mind, which gave him an opportunity to circle back to a favorite topic: NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. That’s the link others couldn’t fathom. The reason they couldn't make sense of it this that it’s psychotic – the sound of one word led him to a similar word, whose meaning is completely unrelated.
 
Technically, what I’m describing is symptomatic of a “thought disorder,” and is seen mostly in patients with schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder, though sometimes in patients with early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. My wife has never forgotten sitting on a San Francisco bus, next to a mentally ill woman who riffed on the word “martin” for the better part of a half-hour, beginning with the announcement, “I used to work at Martin-Marietta,” then veering to, “I love martinis,” and finally concluding with the startling claim, “I invented Martinizing!”
 
The more we pay attention to Trump’s speech patterns, the more we understand that Trump’s words are often disconnected from meaning. They’re merely a vehicle for him to make the point he wants to make, and to reconnect with his base, often to incite their rage. This in turn feeds his grandiosity and energizes him.

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