Trump May be Suffering from Acute Mental Illness: Expert

President Donald Trump. Photo: White House
President Donald Trump. Photo: White House

Could the best explanation for Donald Trump’s troublesome behavior be that he suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)? There are nine official criteria for BPD and only five are required to make the diagnosis. Trump appears to satisfy eight of the criteria as explained in this article.

By Dr. Mark Osterloh


The most important sign of Borderline Personality Disorder is constantly finding faults in themselves and others, which interferes with their interpersonal relationships. They see everyone and everything in black-and-white, all-good or all-bad terms.

Those who agree with them are all-good. Anyone who disagrees with them is all-bad. Donald Trump said, “When you have an enemy, you gotta fuck them and devote your whole life to fucking them, and when you have a friend, you love them, and nobody exists in the middle [emphasis added].”

Borderlines rarely if ever apologize for their hurtful actions. Does this sound like Donald Trump?

Borderlines won’t admit it, but inwardly they hate themselves. Their actions are aimed at countering their poor self-image. This may include aggressive self-promotion and putting others down in order to improve their self-image.

Reckless Impulsivity

The second sign of borderline personality disorder is potentially self-damaging reckless impulsivity in such areas as sex, overspending, substance abuse, reckless driving, screaming at or threatening to harm others, binge eating, gambling, or other areas.

Wikipedia has a page about Trump’s sexual misconduct involving at least twenty-seven allegations. His first wife, Ivana Trump, alleged he raped her. He repeatedly walked unannounced into the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA dressing rooms to gawk at the naked contestants. And Trump’s notorious recording “You can do anything…Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Trump’s overspending is obvious from the 1990 bankruptcy order that limited his personal spending to $450,000 per month.

Donald Trump filed for bankruptcy six times.

Emotional Instability

A third trait of Borderlines is their intense mood swings which is called emotional instability. So volatile are some Borderlines that dealing with them is called “walking on eggshells.” People are walking on eggshells around Trump. He loves drama, disruption, and private or public fights. He appears to be uncomfortable when things are calm and is compelled to create chaos.

Donald’s control-freak tendencies may be an outward manifestation of a fear of being controlled and efforts to control his internal swirling pot of emotions.


A fourth sign Borderlines display is intense and even uncontrolled anger. This was a defining theme of Donald’s campaign and he thrills in provoking anger in his audiences. Trump is well known for saying he does not read books, but his first wife Ivana is quoted as saying the one book that Donald did read was My New Order, the Collected Speeches of Adolf Hitler.

Paramount executive Marty Davis apparently gave it to him because a lawyer told Marty that Donald was a believer in Hitler’s big-lie theory. He is following Hitler’s teachings as evidenced by the many big lies that he keeps telling.

Trump is expressing anger similar to Hitler’s, being angry at everybody and everything as demonstrated by his racism, bigotry, and hatred. One psychologist wrote: “He sees himself as constantly victimized by others and by the society, from which he sees himself as fighting back. So there’s always an intensity to his destructive behavior that could contribute to his false beliefs.”

Suicide / Self-Mutilation

The fifth criterion for borderline personality disorder is suicide attempts and/or self-mutilation. I could not find any reports of Donald Trump engaging in these activities.

Identity Disturbance

The sixth trait Borderlines suffer from is serious identity disturbances. They often change their personalities and beliefs to match the people around them in order to be accepted or to gain an identity.

They have been called social chameleons because of their ever-changing personas. The Atlantic Magazine titled an article, “Donald Trump, Chameleon Extraordinaire.” He is continuously changing his positions on numerous topics.

His latest opinions often reflect the last person or information he was exposed to. This along with his often noted short attention span sounds a lot like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Borderline personality disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are known to frequently occur together. Borderlines may have a hard time recalling any complex information. This could explain why Trump has such difficultly dealing with complex issues.


The seventh criterion for diagnosing borderline personality disorder is that these individuals suffer from chronic feelings of emptiness. In order to fight these feelings they can become obsessed with seeking unending stimulation, possessions, love, and admiration.

No matter what you do for them, they are never satisfied. Observe Donald Trump’s bottomless pit of neediness for attention and his ostentatious displays of wealth.

Abandonment Fears

The eighth borderline criteria is frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment. Michael Barbaro wrote:

“Fear of being forgotten. Ultimately, Mr. Trump fears —more than anything else — being ignored, overlooked or irrelevant….Of this, however, Mr. Trump is certain: He needs the world’s attention and its embrace, a life force that has sustained him for decades. He recalled the feeling of walking into a giant room and watching as the crowd surrounded him, as if he were a magnet attracting everything around him. Mr. D’Antonio asked him when that first started. ‘Long time ago,’ Mr. Trump replied. ‘It’s always been that way.’ Did it ever unnerve him, the author wondered. ‘No,’ Mr. Trump said. ‘I think what would unnerve me is if it didn’t happen.’”


The ninth characteristic of borderline personality disorder is transient stress-related paranoia or unreality episodes. Donald’s repeated utterances reveal his paranoid ideas about all the bad people he imagines.

Borderlines are notorious for believing their own delusions and outright conscious lying to prop up their facade of being an all-good person. This insight appears valuable in dealing with Donald Trump’s unrelenting pathologic lying and delusions.

For Borderlines “feelings create facts” and “emotions hijack logic.” In dealing with all Borderlines it is important to trust your own recollection of facts and events if they differ from what a Borderline is saying.

By Dr. Mark Osterloh, who is passionate about helping people obtain needed medical care. He was author and chairman of the Healthy Arizona Initiative that expanded healthcare access to over 300,000 people at or below the federal poverty level. He was the lead author of Arizona’s Clean Elections campaign finance reform law and a co-author of that state’s law establishing an independent redistricting commission.

For over fifteen years Dr. Osterloh has studied the effects of Borderline Personality Disorder to find a way to engage the public in recognizing and understanding this devastating mental illness. He has written this article exclusively for Raman Media Network (RMN News Service).

Dr. Osterloh goes into more detail on this topic in his book “Faultfinders: The Impact of Borderline Personality Disorder” and on his website.

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