Hyperactive-in-Chief: This is the Presidency on ADHD

Hyperactive-in-Chief: This is the Presidency on ADHD May 31, 2017

He has the attention span of a 9 year-old with ADHD!

So opined Tony Schwartz, ghostwriter of The Art of the Deal, referring to the supposed author of said book. Later adding in an interview with The New Yorker, Schwartz added:

If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,” he said.

Donald Trump displays the symptoms of severe ADHD. I should know, because I have it too. But maybe we should be glad that he can't get his act together.
By Psych3330 w11, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Schwartz’s intimation has been borne out in the Trump White House. According to the Washington Post, this is they way most intelligence briefings play out:

As they huddle around the desk, Trump likes to pore over visuals — maps, charts, pictures and videos, as well as “killer graphics,” as CIA Director Mike Pompeo phrased it.

“That’s our task, right? To deliver the material in a way that he can best understand the information we’re trying to communicate,” said Pompeo, adding that he, too, prefers to “get to the core of the issue quickly.”

Now, if they can only figure out a way to turn the president’s briefing books into pop-ups. As the Post continues:

Yet there are signs that the president may not be retaining all the intelligence he is presented, fully absorbing its nuance, or respecting the sensitivities of the information and how it was gathered.

As his ghostwriter (and many others) predicted, Donald Trump has indeed proven to be that nine-year-old with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder…with his finger on the nuclear trigger.

Most people with ADHD learn coping mechanisms after they enter adulthood. That’s the main reason why it was once believed that almost all children with ADHD would eventually outgrow it. Yet I can attest — from all-too-personal experience — that this is certainly not the case.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. In a Cambridge University study of 49 Finnish adults who been diagnosed with ADHD when they were 16, nearly all showed impaired memory compared to healthy controls, whether or not they still met the diagnostic criteria for ADHD.

This represents my sock drawer on ADHD.
This isn’t my sock drawer, but it’ not far off. Via bark, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Though I have gotten a bit better at developing some coping mechanisms for my severe ADHD as I’ve grown older (though not nearly enough), I still couldn’t organize a sock drawer. Seriously, you should see this jumbled embodiment of the chaos that is my mind. (Writing allows me to slow down and organize my thoughts, especially in the editing process.)

Trump never had to grow up and learn those compensatory behaviors because daddy was rich, bankrolling his real estate ventures and rescuing him from his failures. Even through bankruptcy after bankruptcy, The Donald’s celebrity kept bailing him out.

Those Trump buildings? Most of them are the equivalent of those defunct Trump Steaks, packaged by someone else and then branded with the Trump name.

He even lost all three of his presidential debates — bigly — to the ultimate A student, Hermione Hillary Clinton, while mocking her for her preparation. Yet he was bailed out, yet again, this time by Jim and Vlad (and then Trump had the cajones to blame Comey’s actions for firing him).

But what happened next is perhaps more instructive. While the White House was doubling down on that cover story, Trump himself undercut it by announcing in an interview with Lester Holt that he had the Russia investigation in mind when he decided to can the FBI Director.

Why would he do that??? The. Next. Day.

ADHD: A Deficit That Can Never Be Eliminated

But perhaps something more fundamental is going on. Something deep within himself that Trump cannot help. It’s been suggested by many people, including psychiatrists, that Donald Trump has ADHD. And, certainly, he shows all the classic signs–lack of attention, impulse control, and organization, plus impulsiveness and a quick temper.

Does this make me feel any sympathy for him, as a fellow suffer? No. Does it make me think we should cut him any slack? If it were an ordinary business proposition, I would say yes.

Hell, I wouldn’t even vote for myself for president (not that I would run in the first place). Having been an underperforming student myself, I know how much even the best intentions can be undermined by a severe case of ADHD. And Trump certainly doesn’t have the best intentions for anything — or anyone — except for the people already at the top of the ladder.

The Trump administration has been a case study in what happens when an undisciplined man/child with ADHD is given they keys to the candy store. From the start, the White House has lurched from one self-created disaster to the next, never taking responsibility for the messes the president has left in his wake.

The Donald likes to claim that his inveterate inconsistency is a deliberate strategy of unpredictability, just another sign of his supposedly canny business sense. Sure, crazy like a rabid fox. I believe in many instances Trump simply can’t remember his previous position, the way one number pushes out the next so I can’t even memorize a phone number long enough to dial it.

I know a thing or two about how scattered ADHD can make a person, and especially the difficulty of keeping multiple plates spinning. Eventually, they all come crashing to the ground.

I’ve settled on the method of serial monotasking. But that’s impossible when you’re the leader of the free world. At least it’s free for now, before Trump has had a chance to set in motion his policy of egging on oppressive autocrats while pissing off our closest democratic allies.

Hell, it’s even been impossible while I’ve been writing this post. I’ve lost count how many times I remembered I needed to find a link, realized I needed an image, make a change, add an aside, or whatever, then forgotten what I was about to write beforehand.

It just happened again!

I can’t tell you how many times I can repeatedly make the same mistake, especially if something is distracting me. I’ll clean up that furball I just stepped in after I put this away and clean my foot. Doh! Doh! Doh! It would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic. 

Now, imagine that in the leader of the free world. What was that button again? Oh, that’s right, you don’t have to imagine it; all you have to do is check @RealDonaldTrump’s twitter feed.

What worries me the most is that The Donald’s galaxy-size ego won’t allow him to admit the slightest error. If you never make mistakes, you can’t learn from them.

I’ve known from a young age that I had ADHD, and it was diagnosed again in adulthood. Because of that, I’ve grown up with the understanding of why I make such bizarrely brainless mistakes. But more importantly, I work especially hard to avoid making them a second time (furballs excepted).

I check very carefully every time I click the WordPress Save Draft button to make absolutely sure I’m not actually selecting Publish. (Yes, I’ve done it.) Someone who won’t admit to themselves that they do such idiotically careless things will continue doing them.

And if you’re like Donald Trump, you’ll blame someone else for your mistake. Spicey!

Every presidency reflects the character of the person sitting in the Oval Office. The chaos that has marked the Trump Administration from the start is a direct reflection of the shambling disorder that is the Donald’s ADHD-addled brain. Perhaps someone should slip some Ritalin in Trump’s Diet Coke.

Yet, wouldn’t the president be even more dangerous if he could get his act together?


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