Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Cognitive decline, plus shot gun.

You may know Charlie Pierce through his hi-test sports banter with Bill Littlefield on NPR's, "Only A Game." Pierce also happens to be author of five books, among them "Hard to Forget: An Alzheimer’s Story" (2000), which recounts the impact Alzheimer’s had on his father, his uncles and through them his whole family. Pierce brings his personal experience with Alzheimer’s and his research on the subject to bear in his cautionary take on the 12/28/17 interview President Trump gave to the NY Times.

Here are some excerpts from Pierce's commentary:

In my view, the interview is a clinical study of a man in severe cognitive decline, if not the early stages of outright dementia.

Over the past 30 years, I’ve seen my father and all of his siblings slide into the shadows and fog of Alzheimer’s Disease. (The president's father developed Alzheimer's in his 80s.) In 1984, Ronald Reagan debated Walter Mondale in Louisville and plainly had no idea where he was. (If someone on the panel had asked him, he’d have been stumped.) Not long afterwards, I was interviewing a prominent Alzheimer’s researcher for a book I was doing, and he said, “I saw the look on his face that I see every day in my clinic.”

In this interview, the president is only intermittently coherent. He talks in semi-sentences and is always groping for something that sounds familiar, even if it makes no sense whatsoever and even if it blatantly contradicts something he said two minutes earlier. To my ears, anyway, this is more than the president’s well-known allergy to the truth. This is a classic coping mechanism employed when language skills are coming apart. (My father used to give a thumbs up when someone asked him a question. That was one of the strategies he used to make sense of a world that was becoming quite foreign to him.)

In addition, the president exhibits the kind of stubbornness you see in patients when you try to relieve them of their car keys—or, as one social worker in rural North Carolina told me, their shotguns.

For example, a discussion on healthcare goes completely off the rails when the president suddenly recalls that there is a widely held opinion that he knows very little about the issues confronting the nation. So we get this.

But Michael, I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A. . . .
This is more than simple grandiosity. This is someone fighting something happening to him that he is losing the capacity to understand.
. . .
. . .
. . .
None of exempts Trump from all sorts of political interpretations. But it would be a mistake to discount what may be the definitive contribution from neuroscience, namely that the president is in the throes of a dangerous and irreversible dementia. Who will take the car keys and the shotgun from him?

Pierce's commentary is here:

For more see: http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a14516912/donald-trump-new-york-times-michael-schmidt/

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