Donald Trump is proving ever so useful as an aid in understanding dementia sufferers. Of course there are degrees of dementia—ranging from mild memory loss through to a totally fragmented psyche.
But what the Donald has taught me is a deeper appreciation of the mechanism involved in what we frequently encounter amongst severe dementia sufferers — a conversation between two of them which is completely incomprehensible, grounded in no obvious logic, misunderstood by both sides yet appreciated and happily entered into by each person.
It seems that in a very short space of time contrary to the hitherto accepted logic that the human brain is progressing in complexity in line with the advances of civilization—a being comes into world-wide prominence who takes us back—way back when language was being formed and the noises—early words—which were being offered had considerable disconnect from the thought behind them (if indeed there was very much thought).
For fans of President Trump it matters not one jot if his “oratory” is littered with contradictions, skewed logic or even composed words made up as part of his soliloquy.
They like his communication style. It is a vicarious way in which they can enjoy being listened to through his voice, also (unlike our beautiful residents … a way of giving a ‟biff‟ to the world of authority which has seemingly left them out in the cold world of joblessness and economic disadvantage).
Yesterday I was sitting unnoticed nearby and overheard a conversation between Doris and Addie two wonderful women with advanced Alzheimers. I could not under-stand the jumble of words and noises—and neither could they—in a conversational sense—but what mattered was the eye contact, the focus of one upon the other, the communication of a smile, body stance etc and the projection of thought and feeling towards the other person.
Many factors determine the message received—basically the person has heard what they “think” has been said.
Doris and Addie had a lovely chat. I wanted to hug them both for still being able—despite the bane of dementia—to enjoy each other and their human connection.
It’s funny how something as obvious as communication breakdown in the dementia context can be given another “jolt‟ of understanding through observing the communication style of President Trump.
To the media (an entity Trump maligns) the lack of congruence between his comments and their logic let alone truthfulness presents a huge difficulty; The media is used to reporting on comments which are made rationally and can be understood (not necessarily agreed with of course—democracy demands critique, often biased but we are usually presented with two sides; a leftish and a rightish….and yes some-times a centre-ish side as well!).
Perhaps I’m hung up over Trump not just because the whole world is, but I have—or did have — 4 decades ago—a friendship with his uncle.
Donald McLeod was a mighty tree-like man, at least 6 ft 4 in tall he had large shoulders and a broad face — a Tam-o-Shanter usually perched on his head.
He was a Scot, from the Hebrides He had emigrated like his sister Mary; she went to the US. He settled in Melbourne. In Black Rock actually—Arranmore avenue! Many were the nights our family and friends (many of them Scots) would gather around Donald’s huge table for one of his fantastic dinners. Widowed many years before, he could produce huge cauldrons of cock-a leekie soup and fragrant stews—these were plonked on the middle of the table (no Master Chef plating—up) and with much alcohol and great merriment we would sup and sip with a huge blazing open fire nearby.
I will never forget that fire—the most handsome and dramatic thing, the Fireplace some 2 metres across with huge logs tossed (like mini cabers) casually onto its embers by Donald who then, in his eighties, had the strength of several men.
He was the most congenial host and raconteur, he loved life and his big ruddy face twinkled with merriment at any risqué joke.
Sometimes there was chat about his successful nephew Donald Trump in America. He would go quiet then and seemingly did not admire Donald junior’s style. I often thought of Don McLoed in his younger days. He was from the Island of Lewis. I would picture him in the tussocks of Hebridean Grasses and Heather, windswept, looking out to sea. Largely a fishing and crofting community life was tough, and Donald and sister Mary (Trump’s Mum) were part of a family of 10 siblings. Any wonder many of them sought the “bright lights” elsewhere. Mary going on to meet Fred Trump (senior) and marrying him in New York in 1936. Donald Trump often goes back to his Mother’s birthplace in the town of Tong on Lewis. He is said to be immensely proud of his Scots heritage.
It’s crossed my mind that the Hebidean connection may have more than a passing influence on President Trump. Thick with Gaelic dialect the language of Lewis is not only based upon a linguistic architecture influenced by old Norse but also of Viking legends and wonderful myths of other—world creatures and powers.
Could Mary have fed her son such magic along with her Mother’s milk? Are Donald
Trumps language style and thought processing inherited traits from an ancient gene
I’ve never watched the series ‘Vikings’ on SBS but perhaps we should all do so in a bid to understand the possible shaping of future White House policy.
Cheers to all
(Residents’ names changed for privacy)
These are my views only – if you find Trump appealing then good for you ….